Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Orleans

We arrived in New Orleans not knowing what to expect with regard to the damage caused by numerous hurricanes. It is amazing how many people have been able to come back to the city and it definitely is alive and full of efforts to bring things to life once again. It is clear that some parts of the city will never come back due to the severe damage done to homes and businesses, on the other hand there is still much to come and see.
We were down on Bourbon Street today at Preservation Hall where many of the great jazz musicians have played for crowds over the years. Tonight we were delighted to experience the Paulin Brothers jazz band. They were incredible and brought the crowd alive with all its songs, but in particular by the When the Saints Come Marching In. The musicians were incredibly talented.

Earlier today we went to a museum where we learned about the influence of the French, English and Spanish over the history of New Orleans and Louisiana. In addition we got to go out on a Swamp Tour on an airboat. We got to see alligators, blue heron, unique birds and swamp land. We saw grave sites with the coffins above ground so they won't float away if more flooding occurs.

Yesterday we participated in a day of service and helped to beautify an area that has been impacted by hurricanes. We ate at a place designed by the Jesuits to help teenagers learn skills in culinary arts. The meal was delicious and we were helping the economy at the same time in our small contributions.

We met lots of other volunteers from around the country trying to help the people of New Orleans. It was pretty inspirational. I'm totally sold on immersion programs.

Tomorrow we are off to Little Rock, Arkansas and the Clinton museum. Beth

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