And the Saints come marching in…New Orleans (NoLa) has checked in, and we have now heard from all five our our service sites. Hard to believe the week is at its mid-point. Our students are having great experiences, and we look forward to hearing more stories as the week continues.
New Orleans (NoLa)
Leaders Matt Pendergast and Sarah Haigh called full of energy. They are having a wonderful week in New Orleans. Spending each day at the Joan of Arc School with students – helping the school, tutoring, and assisting in the classroom. Evenings have been full with a variety of activities from touring the Cathedral to having an eye opening dinner with the Superintendent for the Dioceses of New Orleans. Tonight after dinner they head to a speaker and learn about wetlands. As the week winds down they will get to explore this rich and historic city, maybe eat a Beignet or two, and plan to go to the Katrina Museum. Watch for more tweets from this group, moved by the spirit of this inspirational city.
Camden & Texas Check-In
Camden: Leanne D'Entremont and Justin Ecklison, leaders for the Camden, NJ trip checked in. They have had a busy week at the Romero Center. They are joined by groups from Fordham University and Alvernia University. It has been fantastic getting to know students from others schools committed to service. The group has gone to a local Nursing Home, volunteered at a "day care" for adults who have disabilities and each evening they have heard speakers discussing Catholic Social Teaching and poverty. Tonight they meet up with two Saint Anselm alums Brad Landry and Josh Dupuis and will tour Philly. Tomorrow they take on the "Urban Challenge" where they are divided up into groups of four and must feed their group of 4 with a total of $12. This exercise simulates what the average American on food stamps experiences. They anticipate that the exercise will be both challenging and eye opening. Friday they head to a food bank for the day, but they don't head back to the Hilltop until Sunday.
Texas: Martha Lombard and Ian Snyder, our pioneers who are leading the first Education major/minor specific service trip also checked in. They have been working with Saint Anselm alum James Melone '05. They have had wonderful experiences at the schools and in Austin. Assisting in classrooms, doing lesson plans, tutoring children and learning from teachers, principals and the local A.C.E. teachers has truly been enriching. Fr. Anselm celebrated Mass for one of the elementary schools, and really is enjoying his time in the area. Prof. Wasielewski is offering workshops to the teachers and touring the various schools throughout the week.
One highlight to share from Austin the leaders shared involves one of their participants Vinny DeSilva. Vinny is learning Spanish from the students at his school. It sounds as though this exercise has been a bit of a challenge. The biggest obstacle is Vinny's thick Bostonian accent. The Texan students keep teasing and asking what is wrong with his voice. Looking forward to many more stories like these and promises of pictures to come.
Leaders Anthony Murphy and Christine Lester checked in this afternoon. The group has been very busy in our Nations Capitol. Daily they divide into two groups and visit various sites each day.
"A Wider Circle" a donation center which provides furniture and clothing to those most in need. Here clients shop on one of the two floors much like shopping in a furniture or clothing store. All items are free!
"Food & Friends" at this site locals can receive a hot meal or groceries for their family. They serve 3,700 meals a day. Christine's group of 7 served 300 bags of groceries during their service time here.
Last night the entire group attended a "service dinner" where the group joined 12-15 people who are homeless as they shared their stories, ate dinner and played board games.
It was great to hear from them. They are having an tiring but very successful week! Hoping for pictures soon.
Spoke with Ashley Giddinge and Shane Smith (leaders to Dominican Republic) bright and early this morning. She sounded wonderful and said the group is doing well. They have been building a house in the community in which abuts Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos and will be putting the roof on the house today. Additionally, throughout their week they have been working in the fields picking yuka and sweet potatoes, preparing meals in the kitchen, tutoring at the school, and spending lots of time with the children.
Tomorrow they will tour the on-site clinic. Ashley noted that leaving the children in a few days would be particularly difficult and that the experience overall was exceptional. With limited cell phone and Internet access we will look forward to seeing pictures when they return.