The culminating experience for our 10th Grade Service & Justice Seminar: Exploring Parallel Struggles with C.A.R.E. (Community, Accountability, Reciprocity, Equity) is a New Orleans immersion experience during the first week of June. We partner with the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal as we examine power and privilege in the context of service. Students visit NOLA with the goal of learning more about the culture and context, connecting with local community organizers, and better understanding the parallel struggles in New Orleans and New York City.
Students undergo an orientation and dialogue on solidarity and anti-racist youth organizing, tour the city, visit the Hurricane Katrina exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum, hear stories of folks who survived Katrina, and partner with community organizers to learn about and support the work they are doing now 10 years after the flood. This year, they also had the opportunity to visit Preservation Hall, meet Freedom Rider Dodie Smith, and listen to phenomenal live jazz.
In preparation, students learn about the historical context and organizing efforts in New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Delving into the concepts of C.A.R.E. – community, accountability, reciprocity, and equity – students learn to break down barriers and mobilize around the parallel struggles of New Orleans and their own communities, working in solidarity with those most affected by the inequities in both New Orleans and New York. Students read parts of Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse It by Robert D. Lupton and Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.
The 10th graders partnered with several community organizations in New Orleans this year:
- A Community Voice is a nonprofit community organization comprised of working, poor, elderly, women, children, and families. ACV provides a community voice for its members and constituencies in the everyday issues that affect their daily lives. This enables the community to bring together those who have common interests and concerns to improve the quality of their lives and those of others in the community. A Community Voice members fight for social and economic justice for low to moderate income families. BFS students offered support by flyering throughout the 9th ward and gardening.
- Adinkra NOLA is a Louisiana home study program serving grades PreK-12 in an individualized, experiential learning environment. The mission of Adinkra NOLA is to develop lifelong learners who value community, education and culture. BFS students helped to set up the new space where Adinkra NOLA is located and spend time with students.
- Green Light New Orleans enables low and fixed income households to switch from incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) which reduce carbon emissions and utility costs. Their strategy is to actually go to the homes of New Orleans residents and install the CFLs with their help. BFS students offered support with light bulb installation in homes throughout New Orleans.
- The Columbus Street Children’s Center is a non-profit organization that provides child care, food, and hope for members of one of the poorest neighborhoods in New Orleans. Their summer camp will begin on June 6th and they will be opening a Pre-K program for the community in the fall. BFS students helped to prepare the grounds for the summer camp, paint bird houses and chairs, make posters and billboards, and create flyers.
- Laini Kuumba Collective has been in existence for over 20 years. It is a collective that serves to preserve and promote African and African American culture through creative expression. Laini Kuumba is currently heavily involved in community gardens in the city of New Orleans, and is connected with the L-9 Center for the Arts. BFS students helped to weed and clear a lot to be used for an art installation in the Lower 9th Ward to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to these opportunities to engage with community partners, BFS students participated in a range of cultural experiences that offered meaningful context and deepened their understanding of the history, culture, and needs in New Orleans. These opportunities included:
- Visiting Preservation Hall and listening to live jazz as well as learning to dance second line with Freedom Rider Dodie Smith
- Visiting the Hurricane Katrina exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum
- Touring Tulane University
- Eating Po’ Boys at local hotspot Parkway Bakery and Tavern
- Engaging in a Solidarity Dialogue with Organizers at the Center for Ethical Living & Social Justice Renewal
- Engaging in an experiential session on the School-to-Prison Pipeline with local New Orleans organizers connected to the American Friends Service Committee
- Engaging in an anti-racist Youth Organizing session with a trainer from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond
For photos from the 10th grade New Orleans Immersion experience, click here.