Sunday, July 8, 2007

Last week, I received one of the best things I subscribe to - the Seattle Works weekly email. I know, sounds a little cheesy. But it is one of the few emails I get on a regular basis that I read all the way through. I enjoy seeing what's going on. Sometimes it leads me to action. Sometimes I'm just amused by the witty themes Tara incorporates.

This last week, it helped me make a decision.

Since going to Biloxi last January, I've had the Gulf Coast on my mind. Not in a pressing, I-need-to-quit-my-job-and-serve-down-there-full-time way. But still, in a very prevalent way.

I've also been wanting to "get away." That itch we all get to take a break from our routines and have an adventure. But not another weekend in SF or LV. Both fun cities, but I want something a little more substantial. I've even done some research for programs similar to the Hands on Gulf Coast experience.

Then I read this:

** We're going back to the Gulf Coast **

Sunday 8/12 to Saturday 8/18

You wanted another chance to volunteer in the Gulf Coast with us? You got it!

Why are you needed? Before Katrina, there were 128 public schools open in New Orleans. Two years later, there are only 22 public schools open with class sizes reaching 70 students per class. The City Council is expecting thousands of New Orleans to return this summer and we would like the kids to have a school to return to come fall.

Why is this a unique opportunity? During our stay we will be hosted by locals that will do everything with us, from volunteering at the schools to going out to dinner. During the day we will volunteer in the schools, which have still been left devastated after Hurricane Katrina. In the evenings we will experience true Louisiana culture and learn why it’s so important to revive the city. We will be staying 2 miles from the French Quarter and close to great food, music, architecture, and entertainment. Plus, you will be going with other Seattle Works volunteers!

What will we be doing? Helping the New Orleans Recovery School District open 25 more schools by the coming school year - everything from landscaping to painting to setting up classrooms and libraries. Our trip will be hosted by Katrina Corps.

How much will it cost?: $600/person. This includes:
Airfare, Registration, Dorm room for 6 nights (Sunday through Friday night), Breakfast, Brown bag lunch at job site, Two dinners donated by Loyola University, Outing at a local music venue, Transportation to and from the Airport, transportation to and from the job site and Transportation for group outings.

In a manner similar to my reaction last fall when I read about the Biloxi trip for the first time - I immediately sent an email, and followed up with a phone call - credit card in hand.

I know this experience will be very different than my Biloxi trip. I'm excited about that. It will round out my personal sense of the state of the Gulf Coast. It will round out the stories I can share. It will be new people, and new places. Different types of tasks. I could never recreate my last trip, and I would never want to try. This will be its own experience - and I'm open to however this experience plays itself out.

One thing that I do hope to carry over from my last experience is regular blog posting. It helps me process the experience and share it with anyone interested. I'll see about internet access - but I should be able to post pictures and short videos in realtime - now that I have my macbook. I'm not sure whether I should bring it, but I probably will.

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