News from NOLA–FUUY in New Orleans

During April school vacation, twenty of our high school youth group members and four adult chaperones have gone to New Orleans to work on rebuilding projects and learning about social justice. Follow their adventures in the NOLA News Blog, written by Liana Raberg and Brian Sewell (left), FUUY Coordinators. Click on any photos to enlarge.

Day 6

Hello Everyone,

Well we have come to the end of our journey in NOLA this year and what a trip it has been! The time has flown by and included so much self discovery, growth, love, compassion, and hard work. We are so impressed with our youth and advisors.

Today was spent working on restoring window shutters, prepping and painting siding, and learning how to recycle paint in a sustainable way. Our work day was ended a little early as severe thunderstorms started to roll through the area, so we ended up returning to the bunkhouse for lunch and to sit out on the porch as the rain passed by. Our final dinner of the week was classic jambalaya prepared for us by one of the local parishioners, a huge hit! We have eaten so well this trip and are tremendously grateful to Tim and the RHINO board for connecting us with local church members willing to cook dinner for our group!

The evening was rounded out with games and a heartfelt discussion on takeaways from the trip tying back to our race and social justice dialogue from sunday, as well as expressions of personal appreciation for each member of the group (we tried to hold it together but finally broke down in the face of the overwhelming outpouring of love and appreciation). This has been a great trip and we are looking forward to continuing the work of common justice and community renewal upon our arrival back home.

We’d like to thank you, the parents, for helping to make this trip possible and for your continued support of FUUY and RE programming at Follen! We can’t do it without you.

Tomorrow will be filled with packing up, breakfast, quick showers and a trip to Dirty Coast for souvenirs and Dat Dog for some alligator! Looking forward to a safe journey home tomorrow.

Warmly yours,
Brian and Liana,
FUUY Coordinators

More pictures:


Day 5

The fifth update, wow this week is flying by! We had another banner day today with major projects wrapping up at the worksites and a wicked fun trip down to Wednesday on the Square for some live music and food trucks.

After returning from the food trucks and trumpets we gathered as a group to check in on the trip thus far and dive into some deeper issues around identity and assumptions that we deal with every day. I am more and more impressed with our youth every day.

Unfortunately it appears our good weather vibes have worn off as we are expecting steady rain tomorrow. So instead of outside work we will be heading to RHINO’s warehouse to help accomplish some site prep work indoors where it’s dry.

If the good weather has to leave us we hope that it is at least headed your way.

Warmly yours,
Brian and Liana
FUUY Coordinators

Day 4

Well hello there!

We are excited to report that the beautiful weather continues here in sunny and 75 degree New Orleans. Today marked the completion of our second day on the work sites and our hosts remain impressed with the amount of work our group can accomplish!

Today included some tedious tests of nerve with paint scrapping and application, however, we are close to having a house completed done in a brilliant new blue!

After our workday was concluded, we returned to the bunk house to clean up and then head out to dinner at the St Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church courtesy of Jim, Ruth, and Tim! Included in dinner was a bowl of delicious Crawfish!

We concluded the evening with a group reflection on the meaning of service work and what we should be taking away from work even when it can be tedious.

We are looking forward to another great day tomorrow!
Warmly Yours,
Brian and Liana

FUUY Coordinators

Day 3

We had our first day on the worksites today, and I am proud to report that our youth did a fantastic job!
Both worksites involved exterior work painting, trimming windows, and scraping and while on site we were accompanied by wonderful AmeriCorps workers. The weather was a cooperative partner, providing bright blue skies and a slight breeze under the sun.
After the work was wrapped up around 4:00pm, we returned to the bunkhouse for showers and then headed out to dinner at one of RHINO’s Board Member’s house. Both Lisa and Ken welcomed us into their home and made sure we did not want for delicious food!
All concerned left happy and full. We are looking forward to another great (much hotter) day tomorrow. Sunscreen and water are being consumed liberally.

Warmly yours,
Brian and Liana
FUUY Coordinators

Day 2

Time flies! Here we are at the end of our second day, and what a day it’s been. We started this morning with a leisurely breakfast and morning walk around the block courtesy of Liana, the weather was a beautiful 65 degrees and blue skies.
Ruth and Rev. Melanie from the Center for Ethical Living at FUUNO arrived at our bunkhouse at 9:30 for a two hour dialogue on race and social justice renewal. I can say, hands down, that this was one of the most meaningful discussions I have ever witnessed. Ruth and Melanie comment that they had never seen a group of young people so “woke” to the institutional racial biases in our society. That being said, we all learned a tremendous amount about implicit biases, and how they affect all of our lives.
After the dialogue we ventured out to the Whitney Plantation about a hour up the Mississippi for a transformative experience at the only plantation that gives the those taking a tour the experience from a an enslaved person’s perspective.
We returned from the Whitney hungry for justice…and teriyaki, expertly prepared by Liana, Caroline, and a handful of youth.
Finally, we closed the day with a meditation courtesy of Henry Walters and then a group debrief and check in.
We are very excited to begin our work bright and early tomorrow morning!
Warmly yours,
Brian and Liana
FUUY Coordinators

Day 1

Hey Y’all!

Well we’ve made it to New Orleans and have completed our first day! I want to thank you all for helping to get your youth to Logan on time for today’s flight. We landed in New Orleans just before 3:00pm local time in 85 degree weather (be jealous, be very jealous).
After picking up the vans we made our way to the bunk house at 3321 Banks St. It’s awesome! We were welcomed by one of the lead local staff, Keirin, who took us through the house rules and showed us where all the snacks are (were) stored.
After a delicious dinner of pizza from the local pie vendor of choice we hung out and then embarked on our tour of the city with Tim (originally from Easton MA!) from RHINO who gave us the whats what of the different neighborhoods that made New Orleans what it was and what it’s becoming today.
We are now pleasantly exhausted and headed for some zzzzs. Looking forward to a full day of exploring race and social justice tomorrow, capped off with a tour of the Whitney Plantation. Stay tuned for our next update and some photos!
Warmly yours,
Brian and Liana
FUUY Coordinators