NOLA Road Trip Log – Coming Back [March 19]

March 19 – 4:45PM
We’ve been on leg 3 of this trip since 7:15AM 🙂 Leg 3 is, of course, the road trip back home to New York City. As much as I hated leaving New Orleans, now that we’re on our way back, I really want to get back, check my midterm grades and just study a little bit. Take a break from the reality check I’ve lived through this week, you know? We spent the past 8 days without a single care towards school or classes or syllabi and thats not going to make them disappear. They’re still here and I still have school this Monday 😦 I’m looking forward to getting on the computer again, updating my livejournal with all of this and cracking open a textbook again. I’m going to be productive!  I’ve actually slept a majority of the morning and early afternoon. Everybody was drowsy then but I’m definitely awake now. Not going to lie, I wish I had a day or two back at home before classes started. As it is however, I have until 12:30 on Monday. Reminder to myself – I really need to look over the chapter for my comparative politics class – our presentation is next Wednesday so I want to get that started.

Anyway, back to the present, we’re still somewhere in Tennessee, we’ll be stopping overnight in Roanoke (Rowan Oak? I don’t even know), Virginia. I could potentially be repeating myself. I’m not sure. The music in the car is sort of (really) distracting lol. And my own handwriting gets really sloppin in the car. Especially towards the end of the page.

I bought some tape and a new homework folder for Aaron – he’s one of the kids I’m really going to miss. He has severe ADHD I believe, but he’s also on a pretty heavy dosage of Adderall (sp?) and it makes him actually fall asleep in the morning and afternoon. Every day. And still, that child manages to understand all of the new concepts they learn.
Then there was Cornell, who had quite possibly the cutest boy voice I have ever heard. I think my heart broke a little every time I heard him say my name. Or just spoke anything. I really didn’t want to leave at all. AT ALLLLL. Cornell was adorable ❤ The first day we worked there with the kids, he pronounced his name with such a strong accent I thought his name was Kernall or Kanell or Jamell or anything…it could have beeen ANYTHING I was so clueless I just tried replicating the sounds when I tried to get his attention. I must have sounded like such a southern wannabe rofl. And then there was a Raheem and a Jaheem and a Kyheem and all of those boys were sitting on a table together with a girl named Snasia but her name was actually pronounced as you would Shanaya…yeah it was a lot to soak in. My point though is, I kept mixing the boys names up and evers since then, Cornell would run up to me in the morning, hug me, and then ask me if I remembered his name yet. Of course I did because he was just SO cute and his voice was soooooooooooo adorable (it reminded me a little bit of Vibhor’s voice actually. Same mischievous undertone and everything)
Danielle and Brandy were the 2 girls I interacted with the most althugh all of them would run their fingers through my hair for fun (its really long and soft, or so I’m told). I think Dani and Brandy were both incredibly smart though, which I love. Brandy, when she found out we were from   NYU, confided to me the second day that she had heard of NYU and that it was in new york city and that new york city was magic and she was going to live there and go to college there just like me.
It breaks my heart having to leave these children. Do you see why?
IDanielle had like..2 front teeth and thats all. SO CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE. All of them are in various stages of losing their baby teeth right now haha. Super cute, thin, adorableeeee features. 
I’m leaving part of my heart behind in New Orleans. I really am, because I could go on for pages and pages about my little kids. All 21 of them have impacted me as much as I’ve impacted them, if not more. I went there thinking I would feel satisfaction from helping out a community in need. Instead, this community has shown me so much respect and hospitality that I am leaving revitalized knowing that THEY helped me. I’m humbled and honored to have met the people here, I really am. I don’t know…I really hope I’ll revisit these children sometime. The whole thing is tough, devastating even to me. Devoting your life for a week to 21 little 2nd graders, coming and bringing happiness, warmth, knowledge, and individual attention into their lives every single day for a week and then in the end, just saying bye and driving back to NY as if we haven’t left behind such an important part of ourselves with them. Of course we have. You can’t just DO that and then leave unchanged. No matter how stoic you are, this vacation we went on has power beyond words. It was an incredible, an amazing experience. As if we can blink and forget that these kids even existed. I don’t know what to say, I’m just making myself want to cry again. 
i cried when I left. So did Cornell when he tugged on my shirt and begged me to take me to New York in the car with him. He was like..prypry I won’t take up too much space. And then I just couldn’t handle it, I started crying. I wish I could have been a part of their lives for longer. There are an infinite amount of things still to be said, but I’m taking a break for now. I need some time emotionally before I can begin to reminisce without tears.
I will however, point out that the kids all made me little souvenirs to take back. I’m going to scan them and make a collage/poster to print out and put in my room back at home. These memories were priceless.

NOLA Road Trip Log – There [March 16-19]

 March 16 – 10PM
Too lazy to check my cell phone, its somewhere around 10PM right now. Don’t want to get up and close the door thats letting all the noise in.
I’m going to start from right now and reflect into the past 2 days. Right now, I am very annoyed. So there’s this kid Tom (Name changed) on my trip. He is one of the 4 kids (including me) placed in my particular 2nd grade classroom. He is working with Jason, David, and myself. He’s really really nice but the more time I’ve spent with him in the classroom, the more I find his…honestly…the more his stupidity bothers me. He should not have chosen tutoring because he does not know what he’s doing. We’re not here to lift these kids in the air and indulge their hair-touching and sunglasses-wearing fantasies. We can’t get nostalgic about 2nd grade to the point where we begin to act like 2nd graders with them, you know what I mean? We’re here to teach!! Of course we’ll get nostalgic, but my point is…Tom hasn’t done shit since we began working in the classroom. He just sits there, cracks jokes, and teaches the kids whatever the fuck he wants with his little group. Even our teacher calls Sam’s table his crew/groupies. The rest of the class is learning a new math lesson. The 3 of us are walking around our tables making sure everybody’s following along. What does Tom do? Gives them a spelling test. When asked why, he responds with…Because they asked me to. OH PLEASE YOU’RE PISSING ME OFF. LEARN 2 TEACH.

One of the girls here is hopelessly and madly in love with him – thats cute! The fact that he’s taking this all as fun and games instead of understanding the severity of the situation – that is pissing me off so much. This school, if it loses its funds, will shut down for good. If all of these struggling students don’t do well on their LEAP/iLEAP exams (think ELA for you New Yorkers), then they are screwed. The test is in 2 weeks. Think of your own state equivalent. Now imagine failing it because you, as a 2nd grader, didn’t know your alphabet yet. So they need us here teaching them phonetics and sounds and beginner words and also testing their reading comprehension skills. Instead, Tom is just having fun. ARGH.
And you know this wouldn’t bother me too much if he hadn’t won the first "You Rock" award. Stupid AB NOLA Reflection thing but he won the you rock prize from Samara. Remember the 2 distinct cliques we remembered. Yeah Samara (one of our site leaders) is obviously in the other clique.  Because David/Me/Jason are in the clique that Samara and her groupies are not in. So it made sense that we wouldn’t get anything I guess. Goddddd I hate the blatant favoritism. I mean to be honest, of the 4 of us tutoring in that classroom, he deserved it least.
And by that, I mean that in my opinion, he didn’t deserve it at all. All he’s done is had a girl crush on him. Girl is like…8. He should have stayed in construction if he planned to get away with ‘tutoring’ and not actually teaching anything at all. Its just a waste, you know? Somebody else who was better at it/actually wanted it would have taken his place & done a better job. 
THEN he gave his prize in today’s reflection to David. Which is totally fine, he is the one person in my 4-ppl group that I can stand to lose to because he’s amazingly dedicated as well. The kids also love him but he got that prize for the wrong reason. Um hello, PRYANKA was the one who administered & then checked their spelling tests today. And it was PRYANKA not David who helped lead the class today when  Ms. Coffil stepped out for a meeting she had. And if you’re too busy doing what you aren’t supposed to be, don’t give freaking inaccurate reasons and false bullshit that he didn’t even do as your reasons for claiming he deserves an award. He deserved it, I agree absolutely. but not for the reasons.
I have to say SO much more though. Spats and annoyance aside, we have experienced so much since coming here. Already I can say that I have been forever changed. thats all I have to say for now because if I try to write much more or go into detail, I will ramble and not make much sense. I’m exhausted, good night ❤

March 19 – 2:00AM
We’re leaving New Orleans at 7AM and I really won’t want to leave. I’m going to miss this city SO much 😦 I didn’t spend enough time with the kids or manage to see enough fo the city either. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say I’ve had my fill of New Orleans though, this place is just so rich in culture, history, and entertainment. I have terrible allergies right now and I’m watching a documentary about the crisis in japan with Jason in the lounge upstairs right now. Sorta weird…I’ve felt so disconnected from the world this week without my laptop/phone. I need to update myself with world news when we get back! I miss the school, I don’t want to leave. Its really hard and I just want to forget that I study at NYU and just stay here and help out. And I should really sleep now that I think about it but I’m too distracted right now. Too wide awake and sad to fall asleep. I had so many intense experiences here. I saw alligators, ate at Cafe Du Monde, saw (and got lost on) Bourbon Street, walked up and down Canal Street with friends to find a dessert place. In vain. I bought tons of touristy souvenirs, I walked around with my camera looking like a hypocritical tourist (Because I make fun of the tourists visiting NYC) and had amazing New Orleans food. I  may or may not have tried eating an alligator tail. For real..
I’m too sleepy to write well but I do have a lot of experiences that I want to talk about. My next…omg this news is so upsetting. Our world is in a state of so much fucked up.

NOLA Road Trip Log – There [March 14]

 March 14 – 4:45PM [Day 3 Vacation, Day 1 with Relief Spark]
So we just finished our first day of volunteering with Relief Spark. Today was really chill actually but we still ended up spending 9AM-4:15PM at the school site itself. Now I ‘m just chilling in the bed, I’m going to shower after I write a little bit. We’re cooking pasta for dinner together and I signed up to help. There’ll be 3 of us. Aimee and Whitney (My bed/roommates) just got back from grocery shopping with Samara and Ashley so it means I seriously need to go shower. Soon. Just a quick overview though – I’m in a group thats tutoring but our whole Alternative Breaks group is collectively going to build a playground from scratch, plant a little garden as well as the tutoring group that I’m in. Even though I’m in that group, we’ll be helping with the construction work after school lets out at 3PM until we leave the site for the evning, and also working during our lunch breaks (12:00-1:30 for my classroom. The kids have lunch, recess, and then art/gym/etc…so we don’t need to be there for that) Its pretty crazy, this school will lose its charter if we can’t get these kids’ grades higher. I’m really worried but excited, we get to spend more time with the kids themselves starting tomorrow. And now awesome music be blasting and I need to shower. Will update this later with more reflection, less summary.

I’m actually on the rooftop deck now. Our rooftop is amazing!! We have a hot tub, a gym/lounge, the deck itself with lounge chairs and a grill, and wind chimes We’re up hear with "Cola" and gummy bears, David and Jessica are getting in the hot tub now but I’m just going to chill by them on a lounge chair for now. I use the word chill too much but anyway, I don’t need to be down for cooking till 6PM.
Today’s drive around New Orleans was fascinating and exhilarating. The amount of variation between blocks/streets is astonishing. The drive up or down St. Charles Street here will grant you views of 20+ million dollar homes. Drive a block left or right of that and you’ll see tiny, worn-down lots with houses that seem to me, maybe at best, 1/10th the size of their next-block neighbors. There are so  many abandoned/neglected houses on the other streets too. Makes me so upset that these rich people on that one block are living so easily when their neighbors’ properties lie in ruin. You know what I do love about New Orleans though? The COLOR! Rich or poor,some of these houses have the most vibrant color combinations you can imagine. I’m talking sea green with cotton candy pink or bright robin’s egg blue with bright yellow. Serious. We even saw a fuscia car. The color in this city is so refreshingly different from the NYC that just feels so drab/dreary in comparison. There are low-lying structures all over but they’re interwoven with very city-essque skyscrapers. You can literally see where one parish ends and another begins! I completely feel like I’m the only one actually writing this  week, but thats okayyyy. I’ll just have a lot of stuff for Nabila later. When I update my actual livejournal (LOL I am) that is. I hate my legs. I want to get in the hot tub. Seriously. Mark is singing now. TTYL singing along with group in hot tub.
Monday – Reflection Type Thing – [WEB OF IMPACT]
The reflection/web of impact meeting/group session was amazing. So proud of Mark, he led it really well. 
Just past midnight but I’m not starting a new day yet. Waiting for Jonny to get his ass over here because he said he would.
50 minutes later. He is come and gone! And I being off to my bed soon, have decided that it is time to wrap this up. We have 2 distinct cliques now in this group and I’m not a huge fan of this happening. The other group is crazy spazzy as fudge. I’ve really bonded with Aimee and Whitney from this trip though. I can see us becoming and remaning good friends. Sooo fun, this trip.

NOLA Road Trip Log – Getting There

Hi, welcome to my NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) Road Trip Log. This is leg 1 of the journey – getting to New Orleans itself. It’ll be a 2 day drive, this update is arriving to the interwebz at the completion of Day 1 of Leg 1 – aka Saturday night in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I’m just going to type out what I wrote on my way here, its a pretty small log for now. I’ll continue adding onto it and updating whenever an internet connection and a computer is available, as I did not bring my laptop with me for this trip.

So from here on out, this is my log. For leg 1.

March 12 – 7:00AM
It’s 7AM and we’re already in Pennsylvania – that’s pretty good progress right? The views are starting to get really pretty now. I’m not going to write for too long though, I actually haven’t brought my laptop with me so I’ll be using this journal (shoutout to Nabila again woo) all week. Lets see how many pages I can fill up 🙂 Its just really pretty right now, the area is a bit mountainous and there’s an awesome little valley to my right. Complete with a cottage and farmland and everything. Great start to Spring Break!

March 12 – 7:15PM
Okay, we’ve been on the road for nearly 14 hours now (We left at 5:30AM from the city). I’m wide awake and can’t awit to get to New Orleans tomorrow afternoon. We’re spending the night in Chattanooga (Choo-choo!?) first though and and won’t drive into New Orleans untils ometime tomorrow afternoon. Part of me can’t believe that its already Spring Break – sophomore year is almost over and that just feels crazy! Jonny’s already in New Orleans (He took a flight) and we’ve been texting about how the city is mad crowded and mad awesome and the food is amazing. Yo. Haha but really, he’s getting me even more hyped up. When we last stopped to refuel, it was warm, people had Southern accents, and there were cows in the background grazing behind the gas station. So awesome!! I need to write the next 100 Tales…tale…while I’m on this trip. Make myself feel productive.

March 13 – 2:00PM (Central Timezone)
Different timezone! Today, we’ve driven through the remainder of Tennessee into Georgia, then Alabama, and now Mississippi. We stopped for lunch there an hour or so ago (More Subway ftw) and now the next time we stop will be in New Orleans 🙂 Today was the shorter leg of the trip and we’re now just 90 or so miles away. So yesterday night, we had dinner at Cracker Barrel…I felt so…Southern. It was amazing! Dinner was chicken n dumplins with corn muffins a biscuit, fried apples, corn, snap peas, and hash brown casserole

…LOL. Interjecting this with another note. Flat tire alert! The van ahead of us ran over a…muffler. Who knows. either way, we’re at a shoulder off the highway waiting for roadside assistance now. No roadtrip is complete without its unforeseen adventures I guess. /randomnote

Back to dinner though. All that PLUS unlimited sweet tea plus a silice of coca cola cake for $10.14. UhMAZING. I am so overusing the word, I know. But hey, I now have time to kill and I really want to kill time somehow so in between texting Dan (IM’ing) and waiting for AAA to show up, I’ll probably get out and walk around in a few.

March 13 – 3:30PM
Small little (40 minute) delay till 3:10 and then we were back on the road! And I just took a picture of the 49 mile marker/sign for New Orleans. SOOOOO close! We just drove past a NASA Space Center, that’s pretty cool. Our vans split up for the rest of the drive – they’re going to Avis (at a max speed of 45 mph) to get their flat tire properly fixed. We’re heading straight to the accommodations and handling the check-in. They’ll meet us there after. This has got to be the best road trip ever though. Also, just a random sidenote – page 100 on this journal. YAYY. We just drove past "Pearl River" and "Honey Island Swamp" – cool names. The landscape here is so beautiful I’m still texting Jonny and he’s really exciting me about getting to New Orleans. The trip has definitely helped us all bond together – the 10 of us who are on the trip. Dude the swamp to our right has like…alligators. Pretty cool. Looks mad dangerous! This song on the radio has an awesome Jamaican accent. The women just sang that she needs some actionk, tender satisfaction. Ohh southern songs. I love road trips so much.