EduBoston students fly south to vibrant New Orleans

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017

Fifteen adventurous EduBoston students visited New Orleans in February for a trip filled with fun and food, along with a helping of volunteerism  -- all while soaking up the sights and sounds of the Big Easy.

 

Students and their chaperones toured many parts of New Orleans and nearby Baton Rouge. In the French Quarter just one week before the start of Mardi Gras, the students experienced colorful street musicians and performers and indulged in traditional New Orleans-style Creole Po-Boy sandwiches, crayfish and oysters at local eateries Front Porch Grill, St. Roch Market and Cafe du Monde.

 

 

One evening at sunset was spent on an authentic airboat tour of the swamps of the Mississippi River searching for alligators and other native wildlife. Another night brought the students to Preservation Hall to hear the soulful sounds of live New Orleans jazz.

 

“They loved New Orleans,” said Betty Shedd, one of the EduBoston program managers chaperoning the group, comprised of 12 boys and 3 girls from several EduBoston schools including St. Peter-Marian High School and Sacred Heart High School. “The colors, the vibrancy, the diversity of people, and of course, the shopping.”

 

 

She said the food was new and different to the students, and that a big discussion ensued over the difference between Louisiana crayfish, Chinese crayfish, and New England lobster.

 

Students visited the upgraded levee system built after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and had a tour of the state capitol in Baton Rouge, the tallest capitol in the United States. They also visited the famous “Tree of Life” at New Orleans’ Audubon Park and the collegiate grounds of Tulane University. Smiles and laughs were plentiful throughout the students’ excursions, and a good time was had by all.

 

In between sightseeing trips, the group worked with travel group Rustic Pathways and its local partners to volunteer at two homes in nearby Baton Rouge that had been damaged by recent floods. Shedd said the students’ exposure to the hardships faced by homeowners struggling with damaged property -- and the strong Southern drawl of the local residents -- was a meaningful experience for the students.

 

 

“We watched them grow in the short time we were there,” Shedd said. “We got the kids engaged and working. Just getting dirty was new to them. They were so proud of themselves.”

Service work at the affected homes included painting and painting prep work, removing trash and putting up drywall. The drywall process required the students to learn techniques such as measuring, cutting and drilling, all new skills for them. A local church organization met with the team to explain their role in disaster relief efforts.

 "The kids got to see the impact of the work they were doing and how appreciative the families were," Shedd said.

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