Students reflect on foray into 'The Big Easy'

Service-learning trip to New Orleans makes lasting impact on Exonians.

September 13, 2022

As summer break began, Exeter students and staff postponed their well-earned vacation to take part in a service trip to New Orleans in collaboration with the Exeter Student Service Organization. The purpose of this trip was to provide a domestic hands-on service project while learning about New Orleans culture and the lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina on its infrastructure.

After the trip, some students and a trip chaperone offered reflections:

"My favorite part of the trip was getting to learn and surround myself in a new and different culture from a less touristy position. We were able to travel around New Orleans and see all different areas including the 9th ward, where we stayed. My favorite volunteer work was when we helped build part of a house. I also was interested to learn about the affect Hurricane Katrina had on the city and all the hardships the people have faced even 15 years later. Overall, I had a great experience meeting new people from Exeter and NOLA, trying new cuisine, learning about the culture, and helping out communities in need." — Gigi Lannon ‘24


"The highlights of this program for me were the aspect of community I found in our group and exploring a city that was completely different than anything I've seen before. I learned about how drastic the impacts of hurricanes are on places that the government does a bad job of funding. I also learned that volunteerism can be very fun when you are around great people, and you are thoroughly knowledgeable on the cause. My most valuable takeaway is that even though you are not reminded on the daily that people in other places are in need, it does not mean you aren't responsible for reminding yourself to take action." — Leta Griffin ‘25


"The New Orleans trip was fun, and I met so many new people that I have not met during the school year. I learned so much about the culture in New Orleans, as it was my first time going to a state in the south. I tried new cuisines and experienced new storm weather. I learned that anything can be enjoyable with people working together under any circumstance. I think that this service trip helped me appreciate the many resources I have available." — Jessica Chen ‘24


"My favorite part of the trip was being able to connect with small businesses and residents in NOLA. I'm thankful they offered to share parts of their stories and culture with us, because it all told a bigger story steeped in history. One place I was moved by was the art studio, Studio Be, the exhibitions were not only stunning, but they featured art from a variety of perspectives and commented on many different topics. The vulnerability and presentation of the pieces are something I will never forget. After my experiences in NOLA, I will continue to be inspired by the memory and lives of those I met, and continue to be grateful for the experience." — Rowan Flanagan ‘24


"As a chaperone, this is my first time traveling with students. I am amazed at how engaged and hardworking are our students participating those projects. They help each other, collaborate and bond throughout the trip. I also got to work with two other amazing colleagues for the trip. It was a memorable and meaningful experience for us all. The New Orleans Service Learning Trip provides students opportunities to conduct various hands on community service projects, including building the houses, gardening on a farm, cleaning city storm drains and sorting beads for a local organization. They also get the chance to learn more about New Orleans culture and the deep impact of Hurricane Katrina. Students had a great time working collaboratively and built strong friendship through the trip. They also learned to give back to the community, exemplifying non sibi values, and gain a new perspective of themselves." — Ning Zhou, instructor in Modern Languages and chaperone