New Canaan Country School New Orleans 2019
April 22, 2019
Today we woke up and got to school at 4:15 in the MORNING so we could take a bus to JFK. Being my first time on a plane I was a little nervous but very excited. After a two and a half hour flight, the group landed in Louisiana where we meet our group leader, Alia. First there was an orientation in the park which culminated in a game of ‘where’s my ducky?’
Our first restaurant was Dat Dog, which had great food and even alligator!!!
After getting settled into our cabins, we went to Mother’s where we had a family styled dinner and all bonded. The last things we did before lights out was go into the city, and then talk about our day with a session of ‘roses, thorns, and buds.’ More soon!
April 23, 2019
Today we were all much better rested and we were all in much better moods. The day started out with a light breakfast and once we were done we went to the famous Café du Monde. It was a really nice open space in the heart of the French Quarter. There were beignets and we bonded a lot.
Following that, we split into a girls team and a boys team and we were given a scavenger hunt with 25 questions about New Orleans and the French Quarter. Each question carried a point value. Because of some of the questions we got to interact with the locals and learn more about life in the French Quarter.
After that, we went to Louis Armstrong Park, where Alia told us a story about the history of Congo Square and we separated and did some personal reflection.
Then we walked to Lil Dizzy’s to get lunch. It was really good food, and we all talked a lot, laughed a lot, and ate a lot. We then meet the owner, Wayne, who had famous jazz musicians in his family.
Then, we walked to the Backstreet Museum, where we learned about the Mardi Gras Indian costumes and the history behind the iconic holiday.
After that, we took a long drive to Whitney Plantation. We took a tour of the grounds and read numerous quotes and hundreds of names of former slaves on the walls. After going to a park and reflecting and discussing, we drove to this BBQ place and we ate some good food. Then, we came back to the cabins, made our lunch for the next day, and played a fun game filled with laughter. Today was incredibly fun and we bonded so much.
Today was a roller-coaster. The day started out so well. I loved the beignets. I also adored the scavenger hunt, because we got to explore the beautiful French Quarter and talk to the lovely locals. I’m usually not super comfortable around strangers so stepping out of my comfort zone was really nice and rewarding. It was so nice out and I really liked my group (Sydney, Ella, Himani, and Mrs. Carroll).
Lunch was SO GOOD.
The plantation brought up a lot of emotions I couldn’t even begin to describe. I laughed a lot with my friends today and had a great day overall! I’m very excited to paint tomorrow!!!
April 24, 2019
We woke up around seven today and made breakfast at Alia‘s cabin. After that we piled into the van and drove to Greenlight, a nonprofit organization that installs water barrels to save water in people’s homes. The first group went to install a barrel, while the second stayed to paint the barrels.
Group #1 went to an electrician named Patrick’s house while Group #2 went to a lady’s house in a a different neighborhood later. It took a lot of drilling to set up the barrels. Also heavy stone slabs (six per barrel) had to be set up under it.
At noon, Group #1 came back and had lunch with Group #2 who had made some incredible barrels. Group #2 left and Group #1 started painting. At some point, a local TV news crew came to take videos of us and interviewed Himani and Sydney. When Group #2 got back, we had to clean up all the paint and put away the finished barrels. It took a while. After a group photo, we retired to Parkway, a restaurant that specializes in Po’ boy sandwiches. Before dinner we stopped in City Park and did research. After dinner it was time to head home.
This is going to be more of a reflection on our time in New Orleans than a review of today but I’ll still give a brief summary. Today we did some volunteer work with Greenlight. After splitting into two groups, each group got the opportunity to paint and install rain barrels. When we finished our volunteer work, we went to a park and researched a couple of topics (ex. fleur-de-lis, Creole, voodoo, Cajun, zydeco, etc) and then we played some games.
While we were playing a hilarious little kid came in and started a brief guessing game. After finishing up our games, we had dinner and returned to our cabins.
As our time in New Orleans begins to come to an end I’ve thought about all of the things we’ve experienced —from the boys’ private tour of the antique shop’s secret room during the scavenger hunt, to the various restaurants we’ve eaten at— I’d say my time in New Orleans was well spent.
Personally I think the most thought-provoking aspect of our entire trip so far was the Whitney Plantation. It made me view history from a different perspective and after reading about slavery in my history textbooks so many times it was really interesting to see, and partially experience, the places and the way that slaves lived.
Another thing I realized during my visit to Whitney Plantation was that generally the status quo is really hard to break. Unless you’re born into a position of power, the things you do won’t change society or the world unless you can gather the support of many and take brave actions.
Many of the major changes in history have had slow and gradual build ups leading to sudden and sometimes violent changes, followed by periods of recovery.
Getting back on topic, seeing the lively, musical, and colorful city of New Orleans was exciting and thought-provoking and now I’ll be able to return home with more memories and stories to tell. Like everything, there were ups and downs, but I think that this has been a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
April 25, 2019
Marhaba (hello in Arabic),
We woke up too early this morning (5:45 am). We had a quick breakfast and hit the road to Selma, Alabama. The ride was about five hours. When we got to Selma, it was down pouring and we visited the Selma Interpretive Center where we learned the stories of those who participated in “Bloody Sunday.” Afterwards, we ate lunch while in conversation with Columbus, who was a voting rights activist in Selma. He told us about his work and the stories of his uncle who participated in Bloody Sunday. Thereafter, we got the chance to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We walked across the bridge in the rain and in silence. I had the image of Columbus’ uncle seeing the police and horses come from under the bridge.
Salve (hello in Latin),
After crossing the bridge, we drove another hour and a half to get to Montgomery. We arrived a bit early, so we drove around a little bit before starting our tour at the Southern Poverty Law Center. There, we looked at plaques that told the stories of several people who died in an effort to gain voting rights. While we knew some of the famous figures, there were many people who we had never heard of before, and it was valuable to learn of those people as well. We also watched a short documentary that gave some accounts of what people were feeling as this was going on. It was moving to hear about the variety of emotions people were feeling. Before leaving, we went to the wall of tolerance. If you agree to respect and accept people’s differences, you put your name on the wall. We all put our names on the wall.
April 26, 2019
It was the last day today. We began the day walking around Montgomery and looking at plaques and monuments along the way. We walked along one of the main slave trade streets, and it was scary to imagine what might have happened in the exact spot we were standing in hundreds of years ago. We then visited the church MLK preached at. Objects such as the bookcase, desk, and podium were the sames ones used by MLK. The woman leading the tour was passionate and energetic, singing along the way, which made the tour a lot of fun. After leaving the church, we walked to the state capitol. I was surprised to see Confederate statues/monuments around the capitol. We discussed whether keeping the statues up should be allowed and whether they should be relocated or not. Having the statues on the state capitol’s lawn made it seem like they still support the Confederacy, but at the same time, it’s a part of Alabama’s history. Then we headed to lunch and had some Oreo pudding!
After our lunch, we visited the Rosa Parks Museum. Personally, I loved it because of the way they led the tour. Basically, there was a video that guided us from room to room that had a main 3D structure that had to do with her life. It was almost like the set of a play, which I really enjoyed. After reflecting on that experience, we visited the lynching memorial. This was a very powerful experience. We got the chance to go through the memorial alone, silently, and it gave us an opportunity to really dissect our thoughts. Reading all the individual stories really was heartbreaking, but I definitely learned a lot. I hope we all can change the world for the better using what we learned someday. We ended our day with a delicious dinner at a famous hot dog place in the main local town area, and spent some time as a group. To wrap up the trip, we gathered to write letters to our future selves that Global Works will mail to us in the next year and wrote thank you notes to everyone who we met. After playing some games, spending time, and laughing together, we headed back to the hotel and are preparing for the journey home tomorrow. Good Mems (memories)!
– Himani and Ella