Caitlin Bliss

This was my first time visiting the South and I learned all about the unique cultural aspects of Louisiana: generous people, amazing jazz, ridiculously good fried food, the "Louisiana left" turns, etc...but I also saw with my own eyes what the media neglects to share with the rest of the United States: that the whole "Katrina thing" is far from being over. Neighborhoods are vacant. Water lines and spray paint marking are everywhere. Schools are abandoned, overflowing with unused school books and computers. It blew my mind that the house next door to our project looked as though the water rose, dropped and not one resident has returned since. I learned that gutting a house is hard, physical, back-braking labor and I also learned how just one house at a time can make such a big impact. I assumed that most native New Orleanians would foster a negative and unwelcoming attitude toward volunteers (who are these Californians? how do they know what we've been through?) but I soon found out that most New Orleanians have the opposite attitude: thankfulness, because their beloved city is being built on the foundation of love from strangers.

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