A few of us woke up early to have breakfast in the hostel at 8:30 am (6:30 California time!). At breakfast, we met a lot of interesting characters, including a group of professors and graduate students who have been volunteering in New Orleans. Cynthia traded numbers with one of the professors, and possibly got us a connection for another service-learning job!
The rest of the group woke up later and got ready to meet up so we could all take the street car to Tulane University so that we could meet up with the women at the Newcomb College Center for Research On Women (NCCROW).
As we transfered onto the second street car on Carondelet Street, an old man who called himself the Human Jukebox got on as well.
He told us "I'm called the Human Jukebox. I've been singing on street cars for 49 years. What would you like to hear?" He then gave us a lengthy list of souful Motown artists.
After he sang us several songs, including "It's a Man's World" by James Brown and "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, we stopped for lunch at a small diner called the Trolley Stop that was right on the road. The food was good and very traditional (several of us ordered gumbo), but the waiter didn't seem to understand that we were in a hurry! When we called the women at NCCROW to tell them we would be late, they laughed and told us that while we are in New Orleans, everything will take longer than it should, and we might never be on time! Going from Downtown to Uptown, the scenery began to drastically change. There were a lot more traditional New Orleans style homes rather than businesses. The area seemed to be more wealthy than downtown.
When we arrived at Tulane, we realized how beautiful the campus was. All of the buildings are old and have so much character. It sure was different from St. Mary's, where all of the buildings look the same!
It was a little difficult to find NCCROW at first, but eventually we got there (only 40 minutes late!!)
At NCCROW, we sat with Dr. Beth Willinger, Charlotte D'Ooge, and Crystal Kile as they talked about the city of New Orleans, its demographics, and how Katrina had affected the city. They and their colleagues have written the first volume on the lives of women and girls in post-Katrina New Orleans, and we were really inspired by their research before we even arrived in New Orleans. It was great to be able to ask these authors questions face-to-face!
They then took us upstairs and talked about more of the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina, as well as how the disaster has changed the way that New Orleanians live their day-to-day lives.
We were supposed to go to the Crescent House Healing and Empowerment Center after NCCROW (our service-learning site), but we had a change of plans! Crescent House only had one family show up tonight and didn't need our help, so instead, we took the street car to a grocery store to stock up on six days' worth of breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner for tonight. That ended up being a TON of food - way more than we had expected! The walk back to the street car was especially difficult because we had to carry almost 60 bags between 11 people!
As soon as we got back to the hostel, we cooked tacos and had a community dinner in the hostel's dining room. We talked about our first impressions of New Orleans and the things that surprised and interested us the most about the city.
It's only been two days, but it's already starting to feel like home! We're all very excited for what the rest of the trip has in store for us after such an amazing first day!