New Orleans service trip success
March 26, 2018
Thirteen years ago in the heart of Louisiana, a natural disaster of monstrous proportions overtook the city of New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina sent many into poverty, causing the loss of homes, possessions, and even stranding people in the streets. Over a decade later, the city is still recovering from this traumatic event.
The WHS community has been contributing to helping this city recover through an annual service trip. Run by chorus teacher Dr. Therése Provenzano, the trip brings students to the site of this disaster to offer help in building homes.
“I have some friends down in New Orleans that were devastated by the hurricane and I saw the devastation [as well] on TV,” Provenzano said. “I felt that there was a lot that should be done here, and I feel we helped the community.”
Students were eager to help and soon realized how necessary these changes really were. In particular, freshman Sofia Silva felt the trip was a major wake-up call for her and her fellow students.
“I think that hearing about all of the really bad hurricanes recently made me realize how bad it is and how lucky we are that we do not have to worry about that up here right now,” Silva expressed.
In addition to gratitude, junior Ben Sher believed the trip helped cohesively bring together the students who attended.
“Everyone was friends on the trip. There were no social groups at all, which was really nice,” Sher said.
Provenzano explained that her initial goal of this service trip was for students to experience different cultures.
“[Students can take away] how privileged we are especially compared to how most others live. A lot of racism goes on down in the south that we do not experience first hand here,” she said. “There are a lot of Confederate flags still up and there is a lot of that southern attitude that still permeates, so students saw a lot of that.”
Provenzano enjoyed exposing the students to this new culture and she continued this experience by bringing students to a gospel brunch.
“We attended a gospel brunch simply because it is a fabulous opportunity to hear some of the gospel groups and feel that southern baptist flavor,” Provenzano noted.
The trip lasted eight days and included activities such as a swamp tour, a visit to a crawfish farm, and extensive exploration of the Ninth Ward. Additionally, students saw a plantation, visited the French Quarter and took a tour of a local cemetery. Many students also enjoyed their visit to a local Boys and Girls club.
Silva felt these activities helped bring the students together to bond, which was a major component stressed during the service experience.
“The whole community aspect that Doc has pushed is really important and a part of that is thinking of others, which I think was a really important takeaway from the trip.”