This trip strengthened my understanding of the experiences of others and gave me a greater willingness to learn from their wisdom.  I also feel that I have become a more open person with a stronger understanding of myself and the obstacles I still face in my own personal and spiritual life.”

Destination: New Orleans, LA

Trip Organizers: Sierra Betts ’17 ([email protected]) & Caleb Miaw ’11 ([email protected])

The Experience

The recovery process in New Orleans continues 12 years after Hurricane Katrina put 80% of the city underwater, caused 1,800 deaths in the region, and left behind over $100 billion in destruction. By spending spring break helping the people of New Orleans rebuild their homes, the Williams students joined a grand tradition of volunteer work, working with Habitat for Humanity to scrape paint off houses and prime them for professional painters. The team also worked with Capstone Community Gardens & Orchard to clear an abandoned lot, repair an aquaponic gardening system and plant citrus trees.  As the next stage of the community engagement strategy, the students began advising high school upperclassmen who were preparing for college and assisting elementary teachers in their classes. The team engaged with students from other New England colleges like UMaine Farmington and were able to have in-depth discussions about the Christian faith, examining the history of New Orleans through a lense of race and spirituality. This provided members of the team with a deeper understanding of how their experiences shaped their worldview and a newfound desire to work towards reconciliation.

Participant Quotes

  • “I valued the opportunity to serve the lower ninth ward community in NOLA by assisting with projects at Capstone Community Gardens. I also valued the community discussions we held about faith and racial differences each evening.”
  • Through conversations with locals and other service workers (both students and full-time workers) and the service experience, I gained a much greater understanding of how faith can function within a community and within my own life.
  • Learning is richer when it is experienced. For instance I had learned about construction projects in Introductory technology in a formal classroom setting in high school but I am only now more fully appreciating the class after seeing some applications of the concepts I learned in construction projects at the farm. I learned so much about farming on this trip.
  • This trip allowed me to learn from people with very unique perspectives and backgrounds.  Though the community at Williams is very diverse, this trip created an environment where I could interact with students from different colleges as well as those intimately effected by Katrina.”