"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
April 10th, 2013
From March 23-30 I traveled with a group called WIT Travel to New Orleans. Two other high schoolers and me planned the trip with the goal of promoting the idea of teenagers everywhere making volunteering part of their travels. Below is my blog from day 5, more will be posted over the course of the week.
Today we got to walk past the line trailing out the door and right into Acme Oyster House for a meeting with the owner, Mike Rodrigue. I knew the lunch would be fun, but I never imagined that he would go above and beyond to teach us all about Hurricane Katrina and the city’s rebirth. I’ve been concerned about the levees for a long time, because some locals had told me that they were not the strongest available. Mike explained to me clearly exactly how the levees broke- not from too much water, but structural failures and miscommunications. For the first time, I understood completely that Hurricane Katrina was far more a man-made disaster than a natural one. It helped that he drove us out to see a levee and the new floodgates, while explaining to us how the flood protection system had improved since Katrina.
Mr. Rodrigue didn’t just tell us what the problems were, though. He also showed us how the city was rebuilding itself. He is very involved in the Bayou District Foundation, which transformed a highly dangerous neighborhood into a safe, affordable, thriving public housing community. The project is called Columbia Parc, and as Mr. Rodrigue showed us around I could see that it was the kind of place any child would be lucky to grow up in. I was shocked at how quickly Mr. Rodrigue and his partners had done so much in just eight years. Even though we have seen that there is a lot of work left to be done in New Orleans, it’s great to know how people in the community like Mr. Rodrigue are working to help the city heal and move forward.