Thursday, March 20, 2008

Voluntourists

Observations from Spring Breakers

my perspective has sharpened. Not only am I filled with sorrow, but disappointment and anger. That our country and government would let these conditions continue in this city that I immediately fell for. How could this happen in America? to Americans? how could our government put these people in tents under overpasses, in infested trailers, and have no home or community to go back to. This is far greater than me. Although I have not made any conclusive and large strides to Kim's house, still what help I could offer I did. I am no longer concerned with my own well being while down here, I am privileged and have people who care and help me. But these people need us, need our attention, our time, and our help.




Levin also commented about the overwhelming sense of Southern hospitality and the "laid back atmosphere" that she experienced around town.

The Greeks from Chicago experienced nothing less than a delightful culture shock, Levin said, as she recounted a story of a "local ice cream parlor that we went to where there was never any question about when to pay for the ice cream. The owner told us we could pay when we wanted or come back and pay [later]. I feel that would never happen in Chicago."



The evidence of Hurricane Katrina is still real,” Lucy Sjoblom wrote in a trip journal. “Not just in the construction that is going on. There were mailboxes at the street, three stairs ascending to…nothing, the 100-year-old live oaks leaning heavily to one side, the schools holding classes, but the port-a-potties are lined up against the side walls.....Something that im­pressed me on a daily basis was the warmth and appreciation with which we were greeted everywhere we went,” she said.




I didn’t know what to expect when I booked my tickets south, but certainly not this. Certainly after the two and a half years it took me to get here, there’d be more life in the neighborhoods.

But I was not too late to collect some of the locals’ stories. I don’t know how many times they told of the Hurricane days, but when they spoke of it to me, there was still a crack of emotion and their eyes watered as they told of all they lost.

But, it will take many more nails before the city is restored.

Let yours be one of them.


I met a Londoner on holiday who came to volunteer for a few days. His story was similar to ours. We wanted to do something besides drop money on tall beers and daiquiris on Bourbon Street. We wished to bear witness to the city we ached for. We had seen the horror of people trudging through waist-high flooded streets and families stranded on rooftops, all while sitting paralyzed in front of our televisions, in our cozy, dry living rooms. The order for martial law prohibited us from going there, so we sat miles away, armed only with our checkbooks and faith that the Red Cross would wisely use the money we gave

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