Due to unexpected flooding and Hurricane Barry threatening a repeat of the Katrina catastrophe, Duke Engage NOLA was DisEngaged much earlier than we expected.
Imprints of the city are still fresh on my mind, like the clunky green streetcar I rode back from my placement every day and the inescapable humidity that makes a glass of cold water taste like a delicacy.
Plainly, I miss the food. I miss the crunch of fried shrimp in a Po’ Boy sandwich. I miss the savory sausage in the gumbo and jambalaya, and the first bite into a beignet puff spewing powder onto your clothes and sweetness onto your tongue.
I miss the music. The spontaneous trumpet resounding on Canal St., alongside hidden gems such as the Charmaine Neville Band who serenaded us with “a mix of jazz, funk, soul, blues, and R&B” in a Jazz Bistro on Frenchmen St.
I miss the precious residents at Covenant House: my internship placement which is a shelter that resources at risk and run-away youth. I regret having to leave so suddenly, only one week away from my final presentation of the budget project I worked on for 8-weeks.
The most important lesson I learned from my directors and experience in NOLA, is that Not everything is black and white, and “everyone has a story” (Jim Kelly).
I learned that Issues such as housing crises and homelessness aren’t just rich versus poor, they are webbed within complex systems such as negligent laws, stigmas about different groups of people, exploitation, and repeated mistakes from public decision-makers. Stories are weaved from both experiences of trauma and moments of victory, but often the former hinders the latter in which case healing is needed.
All this to say, NOLA is the epitome of complexity, trauma, and healing. A city full of good food, music, life, and color, but not without its share of punches. NOLA will always have my heart.