GO Reflection Course Continues the Learning
The 13 students who traveled to Louisiana for two weeks in January on the GO New Orleans program experienced highs and lows together.
They saw the devastation still remaining from Hurricane Katrina-like building lots empty except for sets of exterior stairs leading nowhere.
They planted grasses to help prevent wetland erosion and orange trees in community gardens.
They bagged flour for a local food bank and drove through food deserts-urban areas where it's difficult to find quality fresh foods- in the middle of this bustling city.
And they continued their time together back on campus, taking part in a seven-week reflection course that culminates all of SU's study-away experiences. In fact, the cross-cultural requirement includes three course components: preparation, the cross-cultural experience off campus and reflection on campus.
"While we were in New Orleans, we were on the go constantly. We didn't have much time to debrief," says program director Carl Faust, assistant professor of physics. "I think the students were excited to just be able to talk about the experience."
Kirsten Hatton '19, a sports media major who participated, agrees.
"We definitely all became friends, so we all felt comfortable sharing. It was nice to have an open conversation," she says.
GO New Orleans evolved out of Hurricane Relief Team, an annual service trip that began shortly after Katrina. Students volunteer with a range of organizations through Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans.
Faust also required students to meet and take photos with 10 different New Orleans residents on the trip-and this was a big topic during their reflection course.
"They got some really good insight into what the people there actually value and think about," Faust says.
"It was kind of out of my comfort zone to go talk to different people," Hatton recalls. "But I really liked it because now I have these pictures of people and their stories written down-crazy stories that people have that you don't hear on the news."
"I would recommend the trip to anyone," she adds. "Even though we were still in the United States, it's definitely a different way of life and a different point of view."