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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

a brief interruption

sorry i haven't finished writing about the trip. i promise i will, but my 14 page music history paper is hanging over my head ugh. the draft is supposed to be ready at 8:30 for peer editing. i didn't get on a roll (or even slightly interested in my paper) until around 2 am yesterday orrr i guess today. so really i'm just going to finish it up after class tonight and e-mail it to her later. besides, i need the sleepy.

a haiku about my late night/early morning

got home at two thirty,
kitchen full of tiny ants
a&p still open!

a haiku about my morning

dead ants on the ground,
paper isn't finished yet
going back to bed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Has it really been that long?

Oh jeeeze. So it seems as though I didn't do that great of a job at keeping up with this page. What is that saying anyway? Boring girls keep journals, interesting girls don't have time? I'd like to think that's exactly what happened. After the first day there, the week flew by. I'll try and write about everything that happened, but I'm sure I will leave things out.
So on Monday, we had the morning off and got ready to start our first work day at 2! We headed over to St. Bernard Project for orientation and to find out what our project would be. St. Bernard Project was founded in March 2006 after a couple came down to help and saw that there were so many people need. They moved back to St. Bernards parish in June and the organization has been helping people in community ever since. The build a house in 8-12 weeks depending on volunteer flow and how long it takes to get permits. In the month of March there was such an influx in volunteers that they hoped to get a large amount of houses moving along quicker than usual. When we got to orientation we found out that our group was going to be split into two different houses, which we were kind of bummed about but knew we'd be helping more people! The other group was assigned to a home that needed the electric wired. When they got there, they found that the house, which was almost completed with counters and doors, had to be torn down because it had been built with Chinese Drywall which can cause serious health problems. They ended up doing demolition for the next two days! The home that we got assigned to was just starting to have drywall installed. We worked from 2-8, but there was a group in the morning as well. We got to the house, had a quick orientation on how to do the drywall and then...were on our own. That night we really came together as a team and got two complete ceilings out (with a little bit of help from the other team since we ended up staying after 8). We left feeling pretty great and ready to go for the rest of the week!
Here is us putting up the final piece around the fireplace in the living room

The next day we got up and went for a bike ride around the neighborhood! Camp Hope is located in the lower ninth ward so it isn't the best of neighborhoods, but Chuck (the leader of Camp Hope) told us where to go and what streets to stay on. There isn't much to see other than empty lots. We found a lot with a My Size Barbie leg still on the property and another with a kitchen knife. Amongst all of the destruction is new homes. Homes that have flags out front and most importantly a million things displaying their support for the Saints. Having the Saints win the Super Bowl is one of the biggest morale boosters for this city. You can't go anywhere without seeing something about the Saints. It is such an exciting time to be around the locals. We ended our bike ride, and headed back to camp before day two of work. Our work today ended up being in a closet in the garage. The closet will be home to the washer and dryer so we had to cut around all of the outlets and water hook-ups. Emily, Jasna and I rocked it out. We got it so close on the first cut and finished up the closet by the end of the night. It was a great feeling and we were looking forward to day 3. At night we TRIED to go bowling. Something about New Orleans is that they just do whatever they want. So we called to see when they were closing and they said they would be there until at least midnight. Welp, when we arrived at 10:00-10:30 they were closed leaving us with limited options. THEN for whatever reason, they closed the bridge we needed to take to get home. So using one of the iPhones present in the Mardi V (our huge 15 passenger van) we found an alternate route that took us to the interstate. Well, of course, they had arbitrarily JUST closed down. So after taking to a rather rude police man, we ended up driving completely around a few towns and a lake to get back and got home around 1:30. Though we didn't actually do anything, we spent some quality bonding time in the van and called it a night.
On Wednesday we got up early to go on a two and a half bus tour. We got to see some Katrina damage as well as some of the most beautiful areas of the town. It was really interesting to hear about the history of New Orleans as well as facts about what happened during the storm. One thing that we found while being there is that most people want to talk to you about their storm stories. I will get to that a little later on. But anyway, the tour took us through places like the lower ninth as well as through the Garden District which is home to some of the biggest and most beautiful mansions I have ever seen. One of the interesting things we found out about Katrina was the use of markings on the homes. Each home was labeled with an X. On the top of the X was the date, on the left was initials of the person or the organization that came to check. The right was if they could access the house, common markings are NE for no entry or 2nd floor only since the water was so high. The bottom was a number. This number was the number of bodies they found in the house. Since the death toll was so high they didn't have time to remove the bodies and simply had to mark. You hope to see a zero, but occasionally see "possibly body", "1 attic", or even "dog". This was incredibly heart breaking to see and as you saw the x's from far away you hoped that as you got closer you would see a zero. Going from seeing that to seeing where the city was flourishing was inspiring, though.

On Wednesday we got to the site to see that they had taken out one of our pieces in the closet since we didn't do it with the right drywall. They had replaced part of the panel and left this horrid corner piece for us to do. Jasna and I spent about 3 hours trying to do one piece. Then once we finally got that piece in we worked on another horrid piece. So from 2-8 pm we got two pieces accomplished. That was....frustrating to say the least. But at least I really love Jasna and am glad we got to spend quality time together.
Here is Jasna and I working on the impossible closet corner piece

Okay so I know I've only gotten though half the week but I really need to participate on real life. I'll write about the rest of the week tomorrow.

Feeling inspired? I can still take donations (and need them!) until the end of the month at this website

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hello From Camp Hope!

Greetings lovers!
Well here I am. I am currently writing to you from Camp Hope in St. Bernard's parish. I had a successful plane adventure here and arrived around 9 pm on Friday. Where have I been since then? Well I can't even begin to describe the incredible time that I have had so far. On Friday night I got to experience Bourbon street. A friend of ours from ASB last year currently lives in New Orleans and gave us the official tour. So fantastic. After getting home at 4:45, we woke up the next morning and wondered down to meet my friend from high school, Ryann. She also lives and goes to school in New Orleans. She gave us a heads up that the St. Patrick's Day parade would be in her neighborhood so we figured we would check it out. What she failed to mention was that it would be the best parade I would ever experience. Just so so much fun. It went on for hours. I mean, close to 6 hours, and was just full of beads, flowers, garters and vegetables. Yes, vegetables. Full out cabbages getting launched in the hair. Such a crazy time. Emily and I even made it into the parade for a few minutes. We got slobbered on by a bunch of drunken irishmen, but it was a good time regardless.

Today we've been running around picking up people from airports and the like and taking some time to look around the area. It really is so astounding that a town that is still experiencing so much suffering is capable of having such an amazing outlook on life. It is truly remarkable and speaks to the personalities of the people who live here. We are in the 9th ward which is currently where Brad Pitts foundation is working to rebuild and rebuild green. We got a chance to see those houses that they built as well as buy some really kick ass homemade candy that the kids were selling on the street. Pretty smart kids seeing that we found we weren't the only group of people who stopped to check out what progress was being made. Camp Hope is our home base and is in an old school that has been transformed for volunteers. I'm currently in the computer lab that they have for us to get in contact with the world. It is a packed house this week and the AmeriCorps volunteers are actually staying outside in tents.

What we know for sure is that our work time will be from 2-8. We have about 18 people on our team and we will all be at the same project. So tomorrow at 2 we will venture over to the St. Bernards Foundation and see what our actual project will be!

Thanks again to everyone who donated! If you haven't and you're feeling inspired, the site is a few posts down and there is still plenty of time!

Friday, March 12, 2010

what a lovely day to travel

Good morning!

It's 10:30 and I am sitting on my bed, unable to walk in my room because of the assorted crapola that is on the ground. My suitcase however, remains completely empty. There is a lot to think about and a lot to remember. I know I will end up forgetting something silly, but hopefully nothing super important! Packing for ASB is tricky because you never know what you will need.

We found out that our work day will be from 2-8. It will be different from working the usual 8-5, but I think we will have some great opportunity to see some more exciting things during the week. I am not sure what our project is yet, but I will keep you posted.

Speaking of keeping you posted, I hope I will be able to update this as much as possible. I'm not bringing my laptop just because I love it way too dearly and am afraid of something happening to it. However, my friend Ryan will have his and if I don't update, I'm sure one of my friends will volunteer to let you know how it is going and that we are alive and well.

When I get back I will of course update with lots of pictures and videos so you can see all the parts of my adventure!

For now, it's finishing packing then my last class from 12-1 and then heading to the airport!

OH! And here is something exciting. Long story short, my friend Regina and I found out we are on the same connecting flight to Memphis. NOT ONLY THAT but we were assigned seats in the same row. Very small world but I am glad to have a travel buddy for the first half of my trip.

Okay, off to put shampoo into regulation sized bottles and try and fit everything into my bag.


Monday, March 8, 2010

The Countdown Begins!

It is finally spring! The sun is out and the birds are chirping. I'm wearing short sleeves and it is just such a lovely way to start a Monday! In just five short days I will be leaving for New Orleans. I just have 13 classes, 2 midterms, 1 paper and a million errands standing between myself and the break. Yuck.

In honor of this beautiful day, I was thinking how great a really cold smoothie-esque drink would be. And I found one that I think would be perfect for this unofficial first day of spring!

1/2 banana, sliced
6 oz skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup ice, crushed
  1. Chop half a banana into slices, place in plastic baggy and freeze overnight. (Do the same with the other half and save for future shake. Trust me, there will be a future shake.)

  2. Gather ingredients.

  3. Place half banana (now chopped and frozen) into blender. Add 1/3 cup ice, 6 ounces of skim milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.

  4. Pour mix into tall glass. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon on shake.



Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring Break Adventure

So, speaking of adventures, I figured I should start with the trip that is rapidly approaching.

This time last year, I got on a plane in Newark, NJ by myself to fly to Mississippi. I didn't know who would meet me there, or who I would meet. I didn't know what the week ahead would hold but I took a risk, and I am so glad that I did. After a missed connecting flight in Texas and being stuck in the airport for over 10 hours, I eventually made it to the start of a week that changed the way I looked at the world. When it came time for spring break this year, I knew there was no other option than to give my time to someone in need.

This year, in just one week I will be in New Orleans, LA. I am seriously looking forward to this trip. Not just because I need a break from school, but also because of the incredible people and the incredible things I will be doing. On Friday after class I am boarding my flight and heading to meet Emily and Ryan in New Orleans, hopefully without the 10 hour delay. Emily goes to Purdue University and Ryan is ..employed. We met last year on our Alternative Spring Break trip to Biloxi, Mississippi.

Our alternative spring break trip will help the community of St. Bernards Parish, this spring. So we decided to head down early to check out all of the amazing things N'awlins has to offer, including the amazing culture, food and FUN! I am looking forward to experiencing their St. Patrick's Day parade as well as checking out the historical mansions in the Garden District. I can't wait to have some delicious crawfish as well as checking out the cafe's. Just everything about the area is so rich and full of life and I cannot wait to be a part of it.

In looking for great places to check out and things not to miss I happened to come along this site. If you get a moment on Saturday next week check it out, I'm sure Emily, Ryan and I will try and hunt it down.

Though I am looking forward to having a day or two of vacation and fun, what I really am looking forward to is reuniting with even more friends from last spring to do what we all really love; Volunteering our spring break and giving back. AJ and Emily (another one!) are other members from last years "team" that will meeting us when we get to Camp Hope for our week. The people of St. Bernards Parish are still really struggling after close to 5 years after Katrina destroyed their lives. I am excited to be in the heart of where the damage was and am looking forward to meeting new people and hearing their stories. The impact that the family and the neighbors of that family had on me last year is indescribable and it makes it that much more important for me to give back to the people who have nothing. Being in an area where there is just pure destruction really makes me appreciate this couch that I am sitting on, as well as the four walls in this living room, and even more so the apartment building I am lucky to come home to every night. I strongly encourage anyone in college to look into volunteer work, not only over spring break, but in your college community as well... It is so easy to take things for granted on a day to day basis and giving back is such a great way to get your perspective back on track.

So those are my plans. I plan on using this as a way to keep you all connected to my trip so you can see what I am up to.

If you'd like to help out on my trip to New Orleans, the work part, not the fun part, you can donate through my fundraising page here.


Monday, March 1, 2010

The Beginning

Hi everyone!

It's March 1. The beginning of a new month, and hopefully for myself, the start of my blog that I hope to keep up with over time. I hope it will keep me trying new things and sharing them with you.....good causes, fun activities, delicious recipes, and wonderful experiences.