Our last full day. The group was obviously feeling the effects of the week away from home and yet feel a sense of sadness at tomorrow’s departure. In a short period of time, they have formed a close-knit family of students who recognize their connections as members of the Sacred Heart family. Our task after our morning prayer reflection was to continue collaborating on a group project to share with their school communities back home. After lunch the group helped set up for the Welcome Home party for Ms. Nannie who lost her home after last year’s tornado. The Religious of the Sacred Heart and the Ursuline Sisters collaborated to help rebuild Ms. Nannie’s home. It was a moving experience to see the SBP team (St. Bernard Project) beaming with pride at the completion of yet another house returned to a home. The impact of single individuals working together is powerful. We have seen this in the work that our own Sacred Heart students have accomplished in this short week. Here are some final thoughts:
Only being in the Sacred Heart community for a year, I haven’t met anyone from any other Sacred Heart school outside of my community until I went on this trip. During this trip, while learning about race, poverty, and culture, I also learned more about other Sacred Heart schools either by listening to the students that go there or touring Sacred Heart schools in the New Orleans area. Lastly, it is advantageous to listen to other people who have other opinions and viewpoints that might help inform your own.
-Brandon (Convent & Stuart Hall, San Francisco)
My experience on this trip has been absolutely incredible, and I am so happy I chose this as my first service trip with the Network. Sergio and sister Bonnie are extremely loving people, graciously accepting all of us Sacred Heart students into their home for a week. Before this trip, I had only met a few people outside of my Sacred Heart school, and these seven girls (plus Brandon!!!!!!!!) have been so fun to get to know. We have truly bonded, not only through our times telling jokes and having fun, but through the challenging and heart wrenching information we have learned over the week. Even though there is still so much to learn, we have toured so much of New Orleans in such little time, and the information we have learned is something that a textbook could never teach. I am so happy with everything Sergio and Sister Bonnie have showed us, and I will miss New Orleans and my new Sacred Heart friends so much!
-Hannah (Duchesne, Omaha)
This trip is unlike any other school-organized experience I have ever had. Never had I thought that I would be making amazing friendships with girls from all across the country in a time span as short as one week. Not only have we been brought together through story-telling of our seemingly far-away lands of Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Florida, and Philadelphia, we have also bonded through our learning of the devastating history of our nation. Information was brought to light that we were unaware of, even with our studies of United States history. This poses the questions: what else in our nation’s history is being hidden from us? Has our identity as the United States of America been formed on an unfinished foundation? We were asked if the impact of this trip was mainly in our heads, hearts, or hands. I think that it is impossible to not have felt the power of our experience here in New Orleans in all of these places. We have absorbed so many new facts that we had never known before, allowing us to fill in the incomplete puzzle of the past. These facts paired with our conversations with residents of Louisiana, such as the women at the Community Book Center, the children at Thensted Center, and Chief David, our hearts were able to flourish in empathy. And with this newly gained knowledge and empathy, our hands have been inspired to work for change. Not only do I think that this project is important to learn about and to experience, I think that it is absolutely essential.
– Morgan (Greenwich, CT)
Photos: the group working on their projectThe welcome home party for Ms. Nannie @sbpusa Our prayer for Ms. Nannie:Our behind the scenes tour of the Cathedral: exploring it from top to bottom!We say good-bye tomorrow and begin the journey back home, inspired to make a difference in our respective school communities.