All students at Susquehanna are required to participate in a unique cross-cultural program that will expose them to different cultures. The program, called GO (Global Opportunities), allows students to fulfill the requirement by participating in a traditional semester-away program, or by experiencing a shorter learning situation that puts them in an unfamiliar cultural context.
This past Saturday marked 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Go New Orleans allowed students to work with Habitat for Humanity and build homes in the still-rebuilding city of New Orleans.
Senior football player Ken Milano '15 is one of those students who took part in the trip. Here are his thoughts on the trip itself and the 10-year anniversary of the devastating event.
Why did you choose the New Orleans GO trip?
I chose the New Orleans GO trip because it fit perfectly in my schedule (I would not miss school or athletics) and the trip was also the best financial option for me. I have never been on a plane or traveled before so I wanted my first trip to be within the US and I wanted to experience the difference in culture within the country.
Before you left on the trip, what were you expecting the city to look like?
I expected the city to be very crowded and filled with locals and tourists. I pictured the surrounding land to be all swamps and lakes.
And how did reality fit with those expectations?
The way I pictured the city was exactly how it was; there was always something going on and the sidewalks were always crowded. What I did not expect was the amount of surrounding neighborhoods that were still feeling the effect of Hurricane Katrina. There are still countless abandoned homes that have not been touched.
Describe the work you did on the trip.
At the New Orleans GO trip we worked with Habitat for Humanity for eight days from 7:00am until 4:00pm.The type of work that we did varied day to day; one day we poured concrete for a driveway, another we put up siding on a house and framed doors. Whatever the Habitat director needed done we helped them do it.
What surprised you most on your trip (a sight, a story you heard, a fact you learned, etc.)?
The most surprising part of the trip was the tour of the Evergreen Sugarcane Plantation which used to be a slave owning plantation. I do not think any of us were ready for how bone chilling it was going to be when the guide brought us through the slave quarters and explain what they had to endure.
What impact did the trip have on you and your perception of the people of New Orleans?
Prior to this trip I do not think I had a perception on the people of New Orleans, but after I would say that they are very proud of where they come from. I spoke with many locals who were affected by Katrina and they all returned back to the New Orleans to rebuild and start again.