Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recap of New Orleans

This is a few days overdue but last week on Friday our group divided into two separate groups within the lower 9th ward. My group put some sheetrock (drywall) on the upper floor of a town house. I was glad that we were able to do some construction work but the foreman in charge was a little crazy. He ran around with his head cut off and wanted his volunteers to work as quickly as humanly possible. He didn't want to waste any materials. For example he made us put up a piece of sheetrock that was poorly cut. The gap between the two pieces of sheetrock was wide enough for me to use the Flip cam effectively with a shot that went through the gap. However, that was the lone incident that I wouldn't have done what he did.
Then during the night we went to eat at a restaurant called Oceania. It was a half block off Bourbon Street within the French Quarter. I had an alligator Po-Boy and it was awesome! It was such great food.
We left New Orleans early on Saturday morning and arrived in Waverly at 4a.m. on Sunday.
The trip was such a great experience. I would advise all students to go on a service trip before they graduate. You get do help people who while creating great friendships in a new city.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

City Park New Orleans

Today (Thursday) and yesterday (Wednesday) we went to city park to do some restoration of the city park. The first day our group mulched a trial that circled the north side of the park. Then we had a few others that did some gardening work for the botanical garden. We made great progress on the trail the city park director we worked with, Jim Morrision, was grateful for the progress that we made.

In the afternoon we went to a local elementary school to help the teachers in teaching their students. I was amazed at how different the educational system was. The building was built after Katrina and the building looked nice. However, when we went through the school the situation was much different. The students were out of control. Children in kindergarten told us some expletive words. The children were out of control and in the classroom I was in, were out of control. The teacher I was with just kept yelling and yelling at her students. The situation varied from class to class but in my personal view, the students need more positive reinforcement and more resources.

That night we went down to the French Quarter and Bourbon St. The atmosphere there was crazy. There were people everywhere and music filled the street. It was a great place to visit.

Today (Thursday) we went back to the park and we were in charge of students from the Lutheran school district. We divided the school children into different groups and they did various tasks around the park. The school children did everything from picking up trash to pulling ragweed. The school children had a good time and so did we.

Tomorrow we are going to the 9th ward doing construction work.

Andrew Bridgewater

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Denver Service Trip Day 4

My internet hasn't been working. So here is the post I meant to publish last night:
Yesterday (Tuesday), we volunteered at the Food Bank of the Rockies. We were put to work sorting outdated meat that was still okay for families to use and from meat that was not. In the afternoon, we sorted dry food into forty pound boxes. We actually got finished with all of this about three hours earlier than the food bank expected and had time to go back to the church where we are staying and chill for a little while. We, then, got a tour of Wartburg West which seems like an awesome opportunity. The apartments seem a little small, but are in a great location for getting to internships and other restaurants and activities. My favorite part of the night was going to the Alumni dinner and seeing all of these people who are so proud of the college. So have been out for 40 or so years and they still come to these functions and check the Wartburg Web site every day and just promote the college as much as possible. They wanted to know all of our stories and encouraged us to come out and visit them at any time!

Today was AWESOME as well! We started out at the food bank again dividing damaged goods from those that could be salvaged and packaging them into boxes. We, again, finished before they thought we would and throughout the time we were working, they had to keep telling us to slow down. We kept saying to each other that it was because of our Mid-Western values and the way we were raised that we have such a great work ethic that they were not used to. After that we went to Colfax Community Network which is the same after school program that we help out with on Monday. The kids were SUPER energetic and loved all of the attention we could give them! The room was a little crowded with 19 of us and 13 kids, but the kids enjoyed all of the one on one time we could give them. The craft I was helping with was making butterflies with the kids out of wax paper, crayon shavings and an iron. It got a little messing at times, but the kids loved it! They made one or more butterflies!

The after school program is my favorite part because I love working with kids. I love giving them one on one attention while reading or doing crafts with them. You never know what they are going to say especially with these kids!

Two more days of service and then homeward bound! I don't want to leave this BEAUTIFUL city!

Here are some pictures of the things we have been doing this week!
Grant Moser and Hollis Hanson-Pollock preparing food at the soup kitchen.

Andrew Cunard and Nadene hanging out at the Colfax Community Network.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day Two Boys and Girls Club

I’ll try to leave off and add a bit to Andrew Bridgewater’s previous posts. Today was our second day at the Boys and Girls Club/ NFL Youth Education Village. It’s a really neat place built by the NFL and maintained by both organizations. The Saints football team visits the facility so you can defiantly tell their pride all around. We met some great people there and being our second day they started to open up to us. We learned how hard it was first hand to get out of the city of New Orleans, and that one of the children that frequents the club was found clinging to a light post. It made us realize that even though we felt like we were not working hard enough, it means a lot to people to have places to go. I did not think about how weird it would be not having organizations and businesses available. Today at the club we cleaned and organized inside, (it was storming outside) and tried to make it nicer for the kids. Then after a full morning of work the camp director loaded us on to the club van to show us the Lower Ninth Ward.

The tour was more real then I could have ever imagined. For the first time in our trip we saw numbers of people who lost their lives in the very houses we were looking at. We also saw holes people had made in roofs to escape their attics. There is still so much left to be done. There is progress, I highly recommend visiting, but there is so much left to do especially in the ninth ward. I would like to remind people to keep the Katrina areas in their thoughts because they are still in need of help and donations.

Brianna Nielsen

Monday, March 8, 2010

Peace and Blessings

This is a picture of two other members of my service trip gazing at the mountains after we reach the top on our hike.

The BEAUTIFUL mountains of Estes Park

Today, we help out at a soup kitchen and the after school program. Both were really great and eye-opening experiences. The soup kitchen made me thankful for all that I have and all that I can do for others. The people there were so gracious. One of the server/preparers we were working with said they never know who will show up to help and how much food they will have, but they always have enough food and help and she just thanks God for all of her blessings.

During the after school program, I had the opportunity to work with kids that come from broken homes. Some don't even have homes and they live in a different hotel every night. The hotels have drug dealers and prostitutes around them and it's just sad that the kids have to experience this. We read books and played games with them before they had to leave.

The Untouched Gym

The untouched gym is at the Boys and Girls Club near downtown New Orleans. The Superdome was just a couple of blocks away. We were what the Americorps volunteer called "beautification" of the building. Basically we did some clean up work in and around the building and a vacant lot across from the building. In the afternoon, we discovered an empty gym that hadn't been cleaned up from Katrina. The roof was partly torn, the wooden floor was covered in several layers of dirt. We thought that the floor had been removed but it was so covered we couldn't see it. The second layer was covered in sand. It looked like people just had just got up and left right before Katrina struck. Words can not describe the destruction and the eeriness. Tomorrow we are returning to the Boys and Girls Club and were taking a tour of New Orleans.

Andrew Bridgewater

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smokey Mountain Range...

I titled this one, "Smokey Mountain Range" because I had the chance to go to wonderful Estes Park, CO and walk along the mountains on a one mile trail to Alberta Falls. Unfortunately, the waterfall was frozen and we couldn't really tell that it was a water fall! The mountains were BEAUTIFUL! I could not stop taking pictures of them. It was a warm day walking on the trail, so it was a little weird having the sun beating on my face, but the cold from the snow soaking into my shoes. My face got a little sun burnt. I got to meet one of Renee Voves's friends in the area, Kevin, and he talked about his experiences at Wartburg. He was a broadcast/PR major, so we found a lot to talk about! He led us through the park and showed us around.
I also got to experience Casa Bonita, a restaurant you should visit if you're ever in Denver. There is a waterfall in the middle of the restaurant where performers and customers have the opportunity to take a plunge. Also a mariachi band band roams around the restaurant while playing. It was pretty sweet!
Tomorrow we actually start our service. Our service trip is centered around working with those in poverty, so we have the chance to help out at The Boys and Girls Club, the food bank, and an after school program.

Pictures of the mountains will be posted tomorrow as I am having trouble uploading them.


WTV8 Staffers Blog About Service Trip Activities

Follow the WTV8 staffers all week as they report during their various Wartburg College Service Trip opportunities!

Ellen Kurt is with a group in Denver, CO; Andrew Bridgewater and Brianna Nielsen are with their IS 201 class in New Orleans, LA; Justin Conner is in Tennessee; and Maribel Lopez and Nate Vaughn are in Costa Rica.

Other staff members are spending break outside of Iowa, as well.

Stay tuned for updated postings!

--Dr. Jeff Stein, Wartburg Television faculty adviser

New Orleans Update

The food at Camp Restore is awesome! I have become a huge fan of jambalaya after trying it for the first time tonight!

Andrew Bridgewater

Made it to New Orleans!

We left Wartburg at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and arrived in New Orleans after more than a 1,000 miles and 20 plus hours of driving around 1p.m. We got lost a few times but we made it here in one piece. Trying to sleep was interesting but I managed to get six hours of sleep! We are staying at Camp Restore in East New Orleans. More to come in the days ahead but right now, it's time to relax!

Andrew Bridgewater

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Finally Here!

After 14 hours of sleepless driving and riding, we are finally at Our Savior Lutheran Church in DENVER, CO. Along the way, we discovered that there was a Waverly, Nebraska, that you don't insert the gas card into the receipt slot, and we all came up with unique Indian nicknames for each other. I got to drive through beautiful Colorado as well. Early to bed tonight because we have a full day tomorrow: service at 8 and then off to Estes Park for a day of hiking and exploring! We will also be dining at Casa Bonita tomorrow night for supper!

Off to bed, but will write again tomorrow to catch you up on our adventures!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Denver here we come!

Classes are done for the day and I'm getting started on packing my things up to go to Denver! I'll be traveling with the Student Alumni Council and I'll try to find time during the trip to blog often. We leave tomorrow at 7 a.m. and travel the 12 hours to the church we are staying in and then Sunday, we're up at the crack of dawn getting ready to go to our church service!