Editor’s note: A group of Upstate students spent spring break in New Orleans rebuilding a house damaged by Hurricane Katrina. This is the second year Upstate’s Center for Civic Engagement has sponsored a trip to hard-hit St. Bernard Parish, still rebuilding from Katrina almost eight years later. Some of the students’ reflections and photos will appear in With Distinction.
Jordan Vokes, first-year medical student at Upstate:
Even though this was my third trip to New Orleans for a week of service work, it provided me with some new experiences.
First, I had never driven down before so that was a new experience, but also a lot of fun! (at least on the way down before we were all exhausted). Also, this was the first trip in which I was able to work on the same project for the duration of the week. In my prior trips, we changed work sites throughout the week and did different volunteer activities.
This year, we worked on the same house for four straight days, and I must say this was probably the most rewarding service experience I’ve had in NOLA being able to see the progress we were able to make throughout the week.
We were able to take a house from basically studs and insulation to being completely drywalled by the end of our four days of work. It really was an amazing transformation, and it was extremely rewarding the see the progress made throughout the week!
We also got to meet the family that lived and will live in the house we were working on. What a humbling experience to hear their story and see the pictures of their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Another new experience for me on this trip was the swamp tour we all went on! Thanks to Caleb, we got a great deal on a swamp tour and we were able to “go swamping” to see ‘gators, raccoons, a cemetery from 1918, and “the shack” that is part of all kinds of local legends and stories!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my third trip down to NOLA, but it was as rewarding as the rest and provided me with several new experiences!