Director Note: New Orleans Service-Learning Trip

Krystle Pits

Last week, our Student Service Program juniors traveled to New Orleans for their service-learning trip. At 4:30am on Tuesday, we met 19 tired but smiling faces at the airport.

Team Work & Healthy Competition

Our first stop was the Second Harvest Food Bank where we split into groups. One group helped prep for lunches, while the other made snack packs for local children. We were also able to view the donation room and food garden. We all learned about food insecurity (especially for children during the summer) and the major impact this organization is making on their community while enjoying some teamwork (along with a little healthy competition).

Reflecting on Hurricane Katrina

Later that day, we explored the Presbytere Museum and Jackson Square. The museum’s Katrina exhibit was eye-opening and a reminder of the devastation that took place in New Orleans less than 20 years ago. Our students were not even born when this natural disaster took place, but throughout the trip, they were able to learn more about Hurricane Katrina’s lasting impact on the city – how the community has felt the impact the entirety of our teens’ lives.

Serving New Orleans

During the week, we volunteered with several nonprofits including the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), the New Orleans Mission, and St. Bernard Project (SBP) in the lower ninth ward. At each stop, the students learned “the why” behind each organization and how they could help. At CRCL, we learned more about land loss in New Orleans and how Florida is next in this crisis. The students who served at New Orleans Mission got a firsthand lesson on empathy when they had the chance to serve lunch and have conversations (even share jokes) with the local unhoused community. Our last two days were spent working with SBP. Here, the students, many of whom had never worked with power tools or built anything with their hands, had the opportunity to help the beginning stages of two new home builds. It was great to see them walk away with new skills!

Mardi Gras World

Throughout the trip emotions were shared, conversations were had, connections were made, and lessons were learned. On our last day, we visited Mardi Gras World. A Nola native gave us a tour and we learned where many Mardi Gras floats are made. We ended the evening with mask-making and king cake. King cake is a Mardi Gras tradition. It is a cinnamon cake that is shared, and a small plastic baby is hidden inside. Some say the baby brings good luck. Though none of us found the baby, we all felt pretty lucky to have been able to serve and have fun in the great and resilient city of New Orleans.

Read More

If you want to learn more about the trip you can see pictures and read what our students and founder wrote about each day here:

New Orleans Service-Learning Trip: Day 1 Recap

New Orleans Service-Learning Trip: Day 2 Recap

New Orleans Service-Learning Trip: Day 3 Recap

New Orleans Service-Learning Trip: Day 4 Recap

Founder Note: New Orleans Service-Learning Trip


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