Elise Obert
Day One: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
After the long fifteen hour charter bus ride, bathroom breaks, and food stops, our classes finally arrived in New Orleans. We ate at a classic New Orleans restaurant that night for dinner called "Mother's". Many of us tried the Po' boys sandwiches, a food that New Orleans is known for. We later went back to our hotel, the Drury Inn and Suites, located in downtown New Orleans. It was gorgeous inside, and there was a rooftop hot tub and pool. Of course, many students decided to take advantage of such a unique opportunity, and we went swimming that night. The views of the city from the roof were amazing. The lights of New Orleans showed the beauty of the city. We then went to bed to get some rest for an exciting day ahead of us.
Day Two: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Waking up in New Orleans this morning was refreshing. The city is so calm and beautiful in the A.M. We had a delicious breakfast at the hotel, and loaded the bus to take a long tour of the entire city. We had such a wonderful tour guide who described in-depth everything we needed to know about New Orleans. He took us to the lower ninth ward, the area that had the most hurricane devastation from Katrina. Seven years later, and we could still see some of the aftermath of the hurricane. There were houses that had windows boarded up, marks on the buildings describing how many people were inside at the time, and even houses that had shingles and rooftops still damaged. We saw homes that Brad Pitt and Make It Right Foundation are constructing for families who lost homes in the storm. The new homes have a modern twist to them, but are nonetheless terrific. We drove over the tallest bridge in the city, and got to see the port of New Orleans as well. The views of the city from the bridge were so beautiful. We could see the skyline in the distance, and proceeded to head into the heart of the city. Beautiful houses lined the streets and I know that we learned a lot about the rich history of the city from the tour.
After the tour of the city, we headed to a Cajun Swamp Tour facility where we got to have jambalaya, homemade potato salad, and gumbo for lunch. It was delicious and many students were glad they got to taste a marvel of New Orleans. The swamp tour was fantastic! We saw so many alligators in the swamp, and even got to hold a two and a half year old alligator individually. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the swamp and the history of the alligators. Overall, great experience! We later met with a gentleman from Make It Right Foundation, and he explained a lot about the process of rebuilding homes for those who experienced great damage during Hurricane Katrina. We enjoyed some PinkBerry yogurt afterward and headed back to the hotel to get some dinner.
Later that night, we attended a Jazz Festival in a lovely park near our hotel. The music and people there were so relaxing and it was a great atmosphere to experience. We followed up with another night in the rooftop hot tub and everyone zonked out pretty early. We had another fun filled day to rest up for.
Day Three: Thursday, April 26, 2012
After another delicious breakfast in the morning at the hotel, our classes split up to go to different businesses and sites in New Orleans. The two business classes stopped first at Idea Village, a local entrepreneurship business that helps individuals start up their own businesses. The facility was modern and the ladies that spoke to us were very informative about being mentors for an entrepreneur, what it takes to start up a business, and the struggles that entrepreneurs go through. Right down the hall from Idea Village was Launchpad, a local business that allocates and rents out spaces to businesses to use for their offices. Later on, we visited with three gentleman from Hero Farm, a marketing and advertising agency that they started up from scratch. This was my favorite visit because the men were full of fresh and innovative ideas, shared their experiences with us, and offered great advice for future entrepreneurs. We also visited three universities that day: the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and Southern University of New Orleans. At Tulane University, we discussed a social innovation and social entrepreneurship program they offer. Students of the programs offered their testimonials and it was interesting to hear their experiences. At SUNO, we learned about the devastation that Hurricane Katrina had on the college, the different programs they offer with entrepreneurship, and demographics of the city. It was a busy day, but we had something fun to look forward to later on!
The Rock N' Bowl is a bowling alley that we went to that night that had southern music, dancing, and bowling lanes! It was my favorite part of the entire trip. All of the students enjoyed getting to listen to the music, interact with one another in a fun filled setting in New Orleans, and even dance the night away. What a blast! We went to bed after a long day and dreaded leaving in the morning.
Day Four: Friday, April 27, 2012
We walked the streets of New Orleans all morning today. We got to see Bourbon Street, the infamous street of the city. Many of us did some shopping and got souvenirs to take back home to family and friends. At around noon, we departed for Canton, Missouri. It was sad to say goodbye to the city.