Like the hurricanes that threaten life in the Gulf Coast, the 2017 FUUY Service Learning Trip ended with our youth being awakened way too early on Sunday morning and heading in caravan to the Louis Armstrong Airport for an 8:53 AM flight to Newark and on to Boston for a mid-afternoon arrival.
But the learning and the emotional growth that began on the trip, will – I suspect – continue on for a long time. On the final night of our trip we sat in the courtyard at First Unitarian Universalist Church. What did you learn about race or class during this week that was most meaningful, we asked? The answers came flooding back: the anti-racism training offered by the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal (CELSJR) on the first day of the visit; meeting Ronald Lewis at his House of Dance and Feathers in the lower Ninth Ward; helping elderly Pastor JR and his wife in Denham Springs when it was clear they had no way to repair their home and church; visiting the Whitney Plantation and hearing our superb tour guide, Ali, talk about the experience of being an enslaved person whose life expectancy was about ten years from the time of captivity to the time of death.
There were great fun activities – a crawfish boil at Dave Holt’s home with live music from Dave and a musician friend; lunch at the Truck Farm Tavern after our Whitney Plantation visit, where the chef brought out “a little lagniappe” (‘something extra’) – in this case, trays of crawfish and remoulade – before lunch was served; going to the Dirty Coast T-shirt Factory to buy souvenirs; a fancy celebratory/farewell dinner at Superior Seafood with live music; hanging out in the courtyard and looking up at the stars.
This was a trip for learning, for service, for cooking and working together; for connecting to other members of the FUUY community. It was a chance to meet new community partners in New Orleans, to expand our notion of what white privilege and systemic racism are about, and to gather memories that will carry us forward.
My continuing gratitude to the adult chaperones of this trip: Youth Coordinator Brian Sewell; Sunday RE Aide Lori Moresco, who helped drive our van of equipment and supplies and stepped up to help in innumerable ways; Electrician (who knew?) and Co-Coordinator Gray Watson; and Carpenter Ben Soule. You all brought such terrific skills and gifts to the trip and we are grateful. And to the youth who were on this pilgrimage: our thanks and appreciation for all you are and all you brought. May the learning journey continue on.
– Deb Weiner, Interim DRE