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Thursday, March 22 the New Orleans group left at 5:00AM and arrived back to UW Oshkosh at 10:10PM. We made as few stops as possible and, honestly, the drive back in one day was easier than splitting up the drive down. After we returned safely to campus we parted ways. Since it was just a drive back there wasn’t much to blog about, so we decided to take a different approach to this last blog post and share our thoughts on the whole trip.

Emily W.: “This trip has been life changing for me. I have learned so much about myself and the impact such a small amount of people can have on a community and that we all have the ability to tackle issues that are important to us. I met so many people who were so dedicated to their causes, and it was really inspiring to see the love these people have for their city. I have seen in myself how much a positive attitude about the tasks at hand can change the outcome of your experiences. It’s not fun to pull weeds every day, but doing it in a group and having the right mentality makes it so much better. I want to be able to bring the skills I have learned in NOLA back home and be able to use them to help my various communities as best I can.”

Clare: “One thing I really took away from this trip is a sense of community. I really loved seeing how everyone was really interested in what we were doing and where we were from and it made me realize that even if we were just pulling weeds we were still making an impact on the community. I also learned a lot about myself and my ability to communicate with people who aren’t the same age as me and also with people who I have never met before. One of my favorite parts of the trip though was creating friendships with people I barely knew before going on it and exploring a new city!”

Olivia: “This trip was the best possible way I could’ve spent my spring break. The community of New Orleans was so welcoming and absolutely amazing. My understanding of service and leadership have been completely changed and I feel more committed to making an impact than ever before. Our group of ladies has a special place in my heart and has inspired me beyond what I thought was possible (as cliche as that sounds, it’s true!). To see what ten people could do in such a short trip with such a positive attitude and capacity for learning reminded me why we do service in the first place. I can’t wait to take this inspiration and servant leadership skills to our own community!”

Ann: “The biggest thing I have taken from this experience is the importance of preventing things that cause a need for volunteers. For example garbage clean up can be prevented by people not littering and using as many reusable products as possible. When I get home I am going to continue to educate myself on correct issues from reliable, truthful sources. I am also going to do my part to not contribute to the problem. I will do this by always keeping an open mind and being responsible with my uses of resources.”

Emily T.: “This week has given me the opportunity to not only give to another community but to also bring back what has impacted me back to my community. I loved the relationships I built with others on this trip and how well we worked together as a team. It’s hard to believe what little things we can do can make a big statement. I’m entirely inspired in every way in New Orleans and in the people I shared this experience with. I honestly couldn’t ask for more or less; this trip was what I needed to continue to give back.”

Jackie: “This week has been a wonderful whirlwind! I am so impressed with how everyone in our group came together and stayed positive and engaged all week through long car rides, hot temps with high humidity, a few sprinkles, and 15,000 plus steps each day! The empathy and compassion our group members exhibited was so motivating to me as the advisor and I am beyond proud of how everyone brought their strengths and passions to the table. I loved how we were able to split our time between our volunteer work and connecting to the people and history of New Orleans and Louisiana. It really helped connect what we were doing to the impact we were actually having in the communities we were serving. I think we all walked away from this trip having learned something new about ourselves and having gained a greater perspective. one quote that is really sticking with me is from our afternoon with Miss Dolfinette. She said, ‘Once you know the truth, you can’t unknow the truth.’ The more we learn about, and interact with people who have different experiences than us broadens our definition of truth. I am looking forward to further personal reflection on this trip and reconnecting with the amazing group of women again later this spring.”

Madison: “The volunteer trip to New Orleans truly allowed me to discover more about myself than I ever thought possible. I discovered my desire to help others was greater than I could ever imagine. I found that my ability to connect with others on such a personal level grew with each new volunteer task we had. I loved being able to immerse myself in the culture of New Orleans. Learning about the history of the city, being able to explore the French Quarter (Jackson Square specifically), and trying the famous beignets from Cafe Du Monde were a couple of my favorite memories! I never wanted to leave! Additionally, I really loved how the community was so very welcoming and appreciative of our work. It definitely made pulling weeds day in and day out entirely worth it! I was able to gain friendships with the most amazing and selfless people who had me laughing constantly. Our group had the most positive attitudes I have ever seen people have. No matter our situation, we were able to maintain our upbeat, fun, and caring personalities (especially with our van being towed on day 5 of the trip!) Every member on this trip has a heart of pure gold when it comes to helping others and it truly inspired me to want to better myself as a volunteer and individual life. My time in New Orleans changed my entire perspective on life and what it truly means to serve the community. I feel absolutely blessed to have been given this opportunity to help others and create friendships with people whom I will never forget. Thank you for an amazing trip NOLA! (I also loved, of course, the stretching breaks during stops!)”

Kalee: “The trip impacted me in many ways. It allowed me to see how important community truly is and how my actions, all our actions, can have such an impact on the world. It challenged me to think about the world around us. I was able to see first hand the impact we’re making on the environment, the importance of community and taking care of one another, insight into our broken criminal justice system, and so much more. Also, we had an awesome group! I loved getting to know the people we worked with and were able to meet. It was a life changing experience!”

Karis: “This trip was so incredible. Working with 9 wonderful women who were willing to give up their spring break to serve others was so inspiring. I loved getting to know them all. It was also amazing to learn about the history of New Orleans and the love that the community has for their city. The whole experience was incredible, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Natasha: “New Orleans was life altering in many ways. I’ve known for the last several years that I want to live in a big city but New Orleans showed me that it’s best to find a city that still holds onto their culture. Learning about the history and the culture helped add even more meaning to the volunteer work that we were doing. This trip showed me that gardening volunteer work may not be my strong suit but that being able to make even a small impact in someones life is worth the work and effort. Along with that I’ve had the opportunity to run the trips blog all week and I’ve learned that I wouldn’t mind being a blogger/social media person for organizations like this. I had so much fun getting to see all sides of New Orleans and share them with all of you readers. So, until next time New Orleans.”