January 25, 2010
After a semester full of classes, many students relish winter break as they spend time back home with friends and family. However, 19 Rollins students committed their last week of vacation to participating in the Rollins Relief trip to New Orleans based on their desire to make a difference in the global community.
Accompanied by Professor of Chemistry Larry Eng-Wilmont, Assistant Director of Office of Community Engagement Meredith Hein and Graduate Assistant Deanna Davis, these students spent a week working in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild homes of Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans.
The trip, which took place from January 3 to January 10, was organized by Rollins Relief, a student-run organization committed to helping victims of global catastrophes. The organization was founded in 2005 shortly after Hurricane Katrina and it continues to bring to life the Rollins’ mission of educating students for global citizenship and responsible leadership by providing disaster relief opportunities locally, nationally and internationally.
During the trip, students participated in painting, house insulating, ditch digging, ramp building, rat railing, caulking, and performing final house preparations. Immersed in the culture of New Orleans, the group had the opportunity to explore the city as well as to learn about the disaster of Hurricane Katrina through discussions and community tours. As a part of the immersion experience, students participated in many group discussions led by student facilitators Jesse Hugo (Class of 2011) and Sam Barns (Class of 2011).
“New Orleans was such an amazing experience,” said Aspen Fox (Class of 2011). “I learned so much about the city, both the good and the bad. We not only experienced the service portion of the trip, which was our main focus and what truly connected and unified our group, but also the social aspects of the city. Going to Bourbon Street and experiencing a different culture and different foods made this trip one of the best.”
By the conclusion of the trip, the group developed an understanding of the unique history and culture of the Southeast Louisiana Gulf coast, an understanding of the environmental, political, socioeconomic, and socially unjust causes and effects of the Katrina disaster, and an understanding of the complex nature of community engagement and community building in a local community as a function of responsible leadership and global citizenship.
“Immersion experiences expose participants to critical cultural, social, political, and structural issues in the community through civic and community engagement,” said Hein. “These opportunities are models of experiential learning giving all participants a true hands-on experience.”
- Brittany Fornof (Class of 2011)