There were several things that I enjoyed about ServeUP. I enjoyed visiting and learning about New Orleans. I also discovered the vast disparities that exists in New Orleans. For example, the French Quarter is a great tourist attraction, with lots of iconic places to eat, such as Café Du Monde. However, there are also areas of the city such as the Ninth Ward. I learned that the Ninth Ward was especially affected by Hurricane Katrina, due to its proximity to the levees that broke. Many homes there are still decimated. While there have been restoration efforts, much work remains to be done.
One enjoyed the wonderful people I met while on ServeUP. I was able to work with students from all over the New England area, all of whom were quality, capable people. Through the challenges of trying to build a house, and through the many conversations I had throughout the week, I was able to grow closer to my fellow volunteers. This experience has reaffirmed just how gratifying service is, and I’m sure that I have formed relationships that will last beyond ServeUP.
Through this trip, I also had the opportunity to have deep conversations and hear different perspectives from a few of the residents. One such example was my opportunity to hold conversations with the residents close to our worksite. When asked about faith and the impact it has in the community, one person responded that where there is faith there is peace, and attributed the community’s peacefulness to its strong faith in God.
In another resident’s response about faith, I saw their views on God were quite different from my own. Although discussing faith under such circumstances can be uncomfortable, I believe it was quite fruitful. If one does not address tough questions regarding beliefs, that can stunt the growth of one’s faith. Thanks to ServeUP, I have seen the importance of enriching my own perspective by not shying away from tough questions.
Written by Michael Butler, Edited by Joe Riffe