English Literature and Composition 12
1 October 2013
Working in New Orleans
“Ugh, it is way too early!” I said to Jackson as we got on the bus.
“I know.” He says as he takes his seat.
We left the Tulane University campus and headed into New Orleans’ lower ninth ward. I watched out the window as the fancy hotels and the famous Superdome turned into damaged houses and abandoned hospital buildings. My thoughts wandered back to the days of vacation that occurred just two days earlier, before the People to People program began. I remembered how our tour guide told us about various places in the area saying “GONE… It’s all gone!” My thoughts were interrupted by the screeching halt of the bus.
I got out with the rest of my group. I was standing in the middle of a neighborhood street wondering why I was there. I thought I was supposed to be working on rebuilding houses! None of us were in an especially good mood since we woke up at six o’clock in the morning. We waited around and I was beginning to get irritated. Finally, a small, young man came into view.
“Hey guys! I’m Zeno” he excitedly told us.
Zeno explained to us that we would be clearing a lot. The grass grew so fast, but if the owner couldn’t maintain it, they had to pay a fine. In the neighborhood we were in, most could not afford the fines. I looked at the seven-foot-tall grass for the first time, beginning to realize the reason I was there that morning. I looked at the old couple sitting on their porch across the street and became determined to work hard in order to help the people just like them who had lost their homes and had their lives ruined by Hurricane Katrina.
“Who wants to learn how to use this machine?” Zeno asked the group.
“I do!” I said eagerly, looking at the oversized lawn mower.
I was taken to the side, excited to be the one using the power tools. I learned how to use the machine and got a lot of the grass cut down. After countless water breaks,...