Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thank you. Thank you for being good, hard working, dedicated and genuine people. I am honored I have been able to meet all of you or get to know you better. You warm my heart when I think of you. You have changed me for the better. 
Keep the inspiration alive.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

'Gon down to the bayou for some Po-boys and Gumbo, ya'll!

Hello boys and girls! What a trip. Looking back, it's pretty unbelievable to remember everything we did in the past week. I completely agree with Kendra in saying that summing it up to those who weren't there with us is an impossible feat. One of my favorite memories was the car ride into New Orleans Friday night. With the radio blasting and the lights of the city passing us by, we all sang our hearts out to Aerosmith 'Don't Wanna' Miss a Thing' and Elton John's 'Tiny Dancer'. I thought about that ride in comparison to the first car ride to the Slidell Mission Center. I felt so connected with everyone in that van. It's such a fantastic feeling to know that in just a week, complete strangers can become  family members (even if they are a bit dysfunctional). Each and every one of us learned so much and took so much away from this experience. I am so grateful that I got to be a part of it, I wish I could be back in my squeaky bunk right now.

I miss the sun
I miss the accents
I miss the jazz
I miss the shingles
I miss the laughs
and most of all...

I miss the jambalaya!

kidding, most of all I miss spending my days with my fellow ASBers (although the food was pretty spectacular)

<3 Kerrin Duffy

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Building the foundation to someone's life...

Why hello all you FSU ASB blog followers! My name is Nicole Dygon and I am senior-which means this was my first and last ASB...EVER! Although it makes me really sad to think that I'll never have such an amazing opportunity again, it is a wonderful feeling knowing that I got to have this chance at all. My time on ASB was not exactly how I had envisioned it-it was better! I may have been a tad under the weather while in Louisiana, but my fellow ASBers really helped pull me through the raunchy ear infection that dominated me. With all their kind words and encouragement my first day back on the worksite they really helped make me feel a zillion times better.

The trip was sensationally put together and I learned so much more than I could have hoped for. From Kendra's documentary to the tour of New Orleans-my brain just felt like a sponge sucking everything up. The highlight of my trip was on Friday when we found out a 4 month baby will be living at our house. It just fills my whole heart up knowing that we built the floor that she'll take her first steps on and the foundation to a house that she and her family will call home. Home is where the heart is and there is no better feeling than knowing that you helped create that home for someone-especially a family.

I want to thank everyone on the trip for making my spring break more than just amazing, but memorable too. Love and miss you all!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Miss Y'all

I never thought I would miss living with 12 other girls, but last night I sure did miss my ASB roommates. I couldn't fall asleep. I thought about all of us laughing late at night over stupid jokes like Kerrin's noises and Carolyn's "silent laugh"!  That comfort was missing.

Being back at school I feel out of place. I want to be back in Louisiana hammering in shingles and soaking up the sun. This transition to school work is difficult; my mind is somewhere else.

Although I've been able to see most of my ASB family around campus, it's just not the same. We wave and say hello, but most likely we are sitting at different tables with different people. Our college friends may never realize how close one week has brought all of us together ... and if they ever get sick of your crazy stories, just remember there will always be someone sitting nearby who you can laugh with :)

p.s. I have taken a picture of my Horse Collection for y'all - get excited!

- Sarah <3

"I miss you sooooo much"

As my sunburn peels like crazy, all I can think of is how much I would love to be soaking in the sun right now buzz sawing and hammering away... ASB, I miss everything about you. I love seeing everyone on campus now, I feel like I have a new family :) PS.. the pictures are incredible, sometimes a little embarrassing, but then I just remember that there are videos to take away from the embarrassment of the pictures...



"Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something."

We're back from Alternative Spring Break, and I have to say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I'm so glad I was given the last minute opportunity to go on this trip. It was such an enlightening experience.

The first day was mostly travel, and we were all tired, but we all watched the documentary "Trouble the Water" which gave us a firsthand account of what happened during Katrina. It really helped me understand what happened, and why we were in Louisiana to help. The following day, we went into New Orleans, and we took a Katrina Bus Tour. I was shocked to learn that the disaster of Katrina was not a natural disaster, but a man-made one that resulted from the collapse of the levees that were improperly built. We saw the damage that was still not repaired 5 years later, the empty lots where houses once stood, and the marks that demonstrated how high the water was when the city was flooded. It truly motivated me to help out as much as I could while I was there to rectify what was lost during Katrina for the families that had to leave their homes and relocate. It made me see what a difference we could make. I was excited to start working on the houses.

That afternoon we had the opportunity to explore the French quarter a bit before we all met up to have dinner at an authentic New Orleans restaurant. The food was really good, and the live jazz band made the atmosphere feel all the more authentic.

The next morning, we all woke up bright and early to get to the work site and get started on the houses. Our group was split that first day between two work sites, and I ended up going to work on the roof of a house. When we first got on top of the roof, it was really scary because there were only a few beams to stand on and we had to balance on them. But soon enough we laid down the boards to create the roof and got to work nailing them in place. By the end of the day, you could no longer see the beams that we were standing on at the beginning of the day. The house had a roof!

For the next two days, I continued to work on the roof and we managed to lay down the boards, tar paper, and nail down a significant number of shingles. I was very sad to learn at the end of the third day that we would not be able to continue working on the roof for our last day, but I was also excited to work on something different.

On the last day of work, half of us went to work on a site with a group of boys from Indiana University. We were able to finish nailing down the subfloor on this house. Then we began putting together the frame pieces of the walls. After a little bit of effort, we got to raise a two walls of the house! It was so exciting to see the walls go up because they are a visible result of all the energy and hard work we put into the houses.

That night we all went out to dinner in Slidell, before heading to New Orleans to celebrate the end of out trip together. The food at the Times Bar and Grill was really good, and it was pretty funny to sing to Angel for her "birthday." When we got back in the vans to head into the city, we turned up the radio. I laughed so hard with everyone singing and dancing to the music. Then New Orleans itself was such a beautiful place and so much fun to experience. Walking down Bourbon Street was definitely a scene I will not forget soon. That night I also saw a wedding parade that had a marching jazz band, and  saw the bride and the rest of the party dancing in the street, celebrating. I thought it was such a unique idea.  That last night in New Orleans (or N'awlins as many signs proclaimed it) was such an amazing way to finish our time in Louisiana.

After a week of hard work, we got up nice and early again to return to Massachusetts. I wish we could have stayed in Louisiana to see our houses through to completion, but I will have to content myself for now with the work we did.

Words cannot truly express how much this experience has impacted me and how much I already miss it. I got to spend my spring break with an exceptional group of people in an amazing place that really needed our help. It was so inspiring to actually see the difference we had made. Today, after the snow and cold weather here in New England, I longed to be back in warm and sunny Louisiana continuing to work on the houses that we helped build last week with all the amazing people I got to know.



"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve."

It is past midnight and I just can’t sleep. Louisiana is on my mind. I feel like I spent the day in a daze, overcome with distracting but wonderful thoughts of the past week, while my heart ached to be in a place thousands of miles away from home, a feeling I have never truly experienced before this trip. How can I be home sick for a place that I only called home for a week?
I spent the day unable to concentrate in my classes while my thoughts wandered to Daisy Street and the houses I knew were in the process of being built, unfortunately now without us. As a looked out the windows of May Hall and saw the snow flying about I craved to be in the Louisiana sunshine that my skin is currently regretting, carrying wood or nailing nails, any task that would help transform a foundation into a home.
All day I struggled to explain to people just how much I enjoyed our trip. There are so many words to describe the trip and yet none of them can accurately express how my heart is feeling. I often just found myself saying to those who asked how the trip was that “it was better than I could have ever imagined”. Words cannot do the trip justice, it was beyond words and an experience that I know only those on the trip can truly understand.
Today I found my greatest comfort in seeing familiar faces of those on the trip. I craved being reunited with these people who played such a big role in my life last week and who have forever impacted my life and shared an experience that is impossible to forget. I can’t imagine not knowing them prior to this trip. They were under my nose the whole time and I didn’t even realize it until ASB. As I was reunited with some of these familiar faces today, I didn’t want to leave their sides, hoping that I could hold on to what we all created in Louisiana for just a little longer.
I cannot accurately explain how grateful I am for ASB. I have been reminded of the power of service and how one person can make a difference in someone else’s life. I am grateful to have met new friends, to have opened up to a crowd of strangers, and to have realized how precious and valuable a home is. I am fortunate enough to have the life I do and after this trip I truly realize how important it is to use what I have to give to others. This experience has changed me forever.
:) Molly

Monday, March 21, 2011

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Gandhi

It felt strange as I crossed campus with snow falling from the sky and my sun burnt shoulders irritated by the heavy load in my backpack. Walking to class I looked around at th place I have spent the past three years, and yet it felt different. It may seem strange to say, yet I am homesick for Louisiana, a place I only experienced for one week. I am homesick for the houses we helped build and the community we were working in. I miss the sights, the people, the culture, the art, the sounds, the food, the hospitality, and the laid back attitude.

Friends and family continue to ask me how the trip went and what it was like. I search for words and somehow can only find phrases such as “incredible”, “amazing” and “it was a dream”. I shake my head as I walk away aggravated by my inability to put the experience into words. I think of what one of my favorite professors, Loretta Holloway, once said, “When you really love something you have nothing concrete to say.” She is absolutely correct. My deep love and passion about this trip inhibits me from forming complete sentences and logical paragraphs.

Although this was my second year participating in Alternative Spring Break, the trip was an entirely new experience. There is no doubt in my mind that I have been forever changed from this experience. I feel humbled yet empowered. My belief in change has only grown. It is evident to me now, with enough hard work, dedication, and cooperation one group can make a difference. Imagine all the good that could be done if everyone was determined to do so.  

Working with Habitat is an inspirational experience. I was lucky enough to be able to meet the woman of one of the house. Her name was Sharon and she was an absolute sweetheart. She came to the worksite with a smile plastered onto her face. Sharon thanked all of us for working on the house and said she would be out to work between her jobs as she could. She asked what kind of food we would like and the next day, true to her word she returned with some homemade Louisiana food. I have never tasted anything quite like it. As the Jambalaya and corn bread settled in my stomach it made its way through my soul. Sharon is a real person. These pieces of wood and nails would become her home and she would make many meals just like this one in this very spot. Being able to meet Sharon made it possible to imagine her living in her future home. This project suddenly became even more personal and critical.

I am once again in awe of ASB and the opportunities it provides students. The trip has an undeniable impact on the members. As I run into other members from the trip they seem to be having the same side-effects a huge smile, an inability to think of anything else, a desire to go back to Louisiana, yet most of all a deeper and brighter desire to help others. The members of this trip were nothing short of phenomenal and amazed me time and time again. It was an honor to share this experience with the 29 others that went on the trip. Every single individual was full of life, respect, cooperation, dedication, enthusiasm, passion, and warmth. These people are inspiring. I want to thank you all because my life has been improved simply by working with you. I see you all going on to do great things and make great changes.

ASB, you never let me down. Thank you for once again restoring faith in humanity, lending a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on, teaching the many ways in which service opens doors, motivating an entire group of people to act, and creating long-lasting and heartfelt bonds, and not to forget keeping us all laughing for a while to come. I could go on for days and yet still feel as if I didn't say enough. This trip and these people are life changing. 

Love always,
Kendra Sampson
a.k.a. Franklin :)

Wait what - ASB 2011 is over?

"Build the change you wish to see in the world."

I cannot believe that after 8 months of immense planning, ASB 2011 is over. I have so many mixed emotions now that it's completed - I'm proud, sad, relieved, happy, and then some. I'm proud because of all of the hard work this year's trip leaders have put into the trip - they have dedicated their love, sweat, and tears into the entire planning process and this trip was very successful because of them. When people tell me, "Wow Angel, you should be proud of all the hard work you've put into the trip!", I always correct them by saying it was the trip leaders who have worked so hard and that I couldn't have done it without them. I'm sad because after all of the planning, all of the meetings, all of the fundraisers - it's over. What am I going to do now Mondays at 10:30 a.m. or Fridays at 2:30 p.m.? I'm used to seeing the faces of those who are dedicated to service, who want to help change the world. I'm relieved because despite a few minor incidents - the trip went very smoothly. Although there were some stressful times (i.e. making sure we have all 30 people aboard all flights haha), the trip leaders were amazing at not showing their stress. I'm happy because everyone seemed to have a great time, not only by building houses and helping re-build New Orleans and its surrounding parishes, but by spending 6 days with unfamiliar faces. We worked very well as a team and made the best of any situation.

Working on the actual work site was very rewarding. We worked on three different sites on Daisey Street in Covington, LA. Two houses were in the same beginning stages while the third house was on the roofing stage. I wanted to stay on the same site for the four work days which was the foundation stage. Unlike the D.C. Habitat houses we worked on last year, the houses in St. Tammany West needed to be raised in case of any future floods/natural disasters. When we first got there, the clay on the lot needed to be leveled out and sloped and we placed termite shields on the raised concrete to prevent termites from destroying the house. My favorite day during the work week was Thursday - we got so much accomplished that day. When we first got to the site Thursday morning, there were a few floor supporting boards up but we completed all of the floor supports and placed most of the sub floor boards on top of them. It was great to see the progress throughout the day - we put the floor in. It was an indescribable feeling.

What I really like about this trip that differs from last year's trip is the importance of educating the participants of why Louisiana. Sure - it's a great place to go and many of us have never been before, but the reason why we chose Louisiana for ASB 2011 is because of all of the disaster they have encountered within the last few years. We can help re-build Louisiana. We can make a difference. We can be the change. I think of the most powerful way the group was educated was from the documentary "Trouble the Water." We watched this the first night we got into Louisiana. Although everyone was tired from all of the traveling, we all sat and watched the documentary as a group. It showed a first hand account of how a family was personally affected by the city's failed levees and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was saddening to see how this family had no choice but to stay in New Orleans. Another impactful part of the trip was the Hurricane Katrina tour of New Orleans. We had a private three hour bus tour of the city and I learned so much within that three hour time span. I learned that New Orleans actually wasn't hit by the hurricane, but that the reason the city flooded was because of the failed construction of the city's levees. Our tour guide Dian (that's right, no E!) drove us through no-bus areas of the city and showed us some severe devastation of the aftermath of Katrina. It was absolutely heart aching to see abandoned homes, empty lots, and destroyed areas. Many of the homes had spray paint on them that let the public know the date the house was inspected, how many bodies were found on the lot, and who inspected the area.

Alternative Spring Break 2011 -  it couldn't have been done without the immense hard work of all three trip leaders - Kendra, Stephen, and Emily. I know you must have thought it was silly to start planning in July 2010, but look how far we've come. You guys have brought your strengths to this program and I know you all have learned a lot from the experience. You have no idea how proud and thankful I am to have had the opportunity to work with the three of you guys. We make a great team and I'm devastated we all won't be able to experience this together next year (like really Emily, do you really have to graduate?) I am so so SO happy how everything worked out this year and I wouldn't change a thing. You guys are the reason the trip was how it was, successful! You guys are great and you should be VERY proud of yourselves. <3

Angel Seto
Coordinator of Clubs and Service
Student Involvement and Leadership Development
Framingham State University

Photo Credit: Txong Yang

A Blog from 1/2 of T^2

Another Spring Break is over and after several days of reflecting I've come to realize how much this trip really meant. I really feel like I made a difference this time because rather than seeing just poverty, I saw the destruction of a disaster and received first-hand accounts of what really happened. The media not only withheld information, but did reveal the real image of how much hurt, and pain, and sorrow, and despair  that these families, these people went through. Seeing the documentary provided and taking the tour really opened my eyes and gave me the motivation I needed to get through the week of early mornings, blazing heat, and long, hard work days.
I was not really prepared for the place we stayed because it was a little different, where the boys slept in a crate and showered in a trailer. After the first few days the six of us got used to it and I actually thought it was kind of fun! It was like camping! .... only the mosquitos were giant and you didn't know if you were going to see an alligator when you opened the door. No alligators though. Not gonna lie.... kinda disappointed.... ANYWAY!
I was baffled by how nice the people were! It was not like New England where a lot of people are just plain grouchy all the time. People were friendly! They smiled when you walked by and said "hi!" We went to Sonic and they didn't even mind that we didn't have a car! They let each of us just wait out in the stalls and they delivered our ice cream to us there! And they gave us free extra ice cream!
Then there was the real work, which of course was tough but totally worth it. I mainly worked on roofing. Now I am a guy who likes to keep his feet on the ground, the airplane for example terrified me. I wanted to conquer my fear and I wanted to come home and tell everyone that I, Terrence O'Kane, worked on the roof! And that's what I did. While on the roof we put down shingles and hammered and stuff. It was a lot of work with the sun beating down on you, but we got through it and most of all we had fun!
Then there was a day where we put down termite shields. Taryn was my partner and the two of us became known as T-Squared! Working with her made the job a lot more fun because she is just so positive and energetic. Both of us were a bit nervous of cutting our hands open, but we were careful and managed to do the job perfectly...well we messed up once but the rest of it turned out nicely!
There was nothing like raising the walls though. When a large group of us pulled the walls up we knew we were creating the boundaries that would protect this family from the elements. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing that this would help some people. The work was worth it and I can't wait to see pictures of the finished houses! They promised to send us some!
Spring Break. I am more than pleased that I dedicated it once again to habitat for humanity. I don't know a better cause for a college student. I made knew friends and created a new family and of course had a wonderful time. Thank you to the trip leaders for letting me experience this feeling of accomplishment, this feeling of knowing I was part of a group that changed peoples lives once again.  Hooray ASB 2011!

Terrence O'Kane

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Building the Change You Wish to See in the World

Here I am at my mom’s house in Falmouth and after a solid 12 hours of sleep I can finally look back on my trip this week. What I like most about ASB is that there are so many different personalities that come on this trip but, somehow, we all come together to form a group that genuinely likes and respects each other.

Everyone met up bright and early at 4 am at the airport. Although most people didn’t even sleep that night there was an excitement in the air. We boarded the plane and finally at around noon we arrived in the Louis Armstrong airport. We got our rental car and headed to the center where we would be staying.

We pulled up to the mission center and met our host. The week that we stayed there were many different college and high school groups staying as well. But we all had a place to stay and breakfast, lunch and a hot meal for dinner.

The first night we all stayed in and went out to dinner at CiCi pizza I was really excited because I have seen the commercial many times and finally I was able to go there. The rest of the night everyone relaxed and got to know each other. We also watched a documentary about Katrina. Generally, everyone was shocked by the lack of help supplied by the government. But, I was glad to see how the people of Louisiana were always so optimistic and had faith that everything would work out for the best. I think it is amazing that people who are dealing with so much devastation and destruction still wake up in the morning happy to be alive.

On Monday we walked around New Orleans. New Orleans is a beautiful city it has a unique carefree culture. Everyone takes their time and tries to live life to the fullest. We also scheduled a bus tour to show us the effects of Katrina and the Levee system failure. Our tour guide had a first hand account of what had happened during this devastating man-made disaster.

One of the first things that our tour guide told us that the damage done to Louisiana was not from Katrina but from the failure of the levee system. The engineers used silt instead of clay to hold the levees in place. The water shifted the silt and caused the levees to collapse and flood the entire city. One of the most damaged areas of Louisiana is the 9th Ward, which our tour guide took us through. It was saddening to see the destruction left from the levees break. Most people cannot afford to live or rebuild their houses because they are not receiving federal aid and the price to even buy land is too high. The tour guide was amazing; she gave us documented information about the levee system failure and the government.

After our tour the group walked around the city. My friend Joey and I went around to the Riverwalk where we saw a steamboat and the flea market. We were able to see the decorations of Mardi Gras on all of the balconies. Then the group went out to dinner at an authentic Louisiana-style restaurant. It was great!! The seafood was so fresh!! By the end of the night I was ready to start our workweek.
The next day we woke up early and got ready for work. When we got to the Habitat Restore shop we met all of the crewmembers and then went to our sites. The first day I worked with Jon. When we pulled up to the site all we saw was some concrete on the floor with big mounds of dirt and some concrete blocks that would serve to raise the house. We moved dirt around so that it created a mound, then we put termite shields on the concrete blocks so termites couldn’t climb up the concrete and eat through the house. Next, we started building the first layer of the house. We had to move these big blocks of wood onto the blocks of concrete. We put a couple of those down and then it was time to go home.

On Wednesday I worked at a different sight with some other college students from Indiana who were apart of a fraternity. The house was at the same stage as the one from Tuesday but all of the big blocks were down. Next, we started putting pieces of wood down so we could put down the subfloor. That is when the nailing started. For the rest of the week myself, and the rest of ASB were nailing.

On Thursday we finished putting the pieces of wood to build the floor and started putting down the subfloor. It was so cool to start from scratch like we did. We could see our progress. Finally on Friday we finished the subfloor by after lunch and then we put together the frame of the house. It was amazing lifting the wall up. When we started working we were 2 or 3 feet of the ground and now we were actually putting up a wall, actually, we put up 2!!!

The whole week was amazing!! I love ASB! I think what I liked about this trip, besides meeting all of the people and being immersed in the culture was seeing the house that we were working on start from scratch. We also got to meet the women that we were building the house for. She brought us some lunch of jambalaya and cornbread. She was so thankful and was relieved to have the help of Habitat; and we were thankful to meet her and to help as much as we could.

On our final night we went into New Orleans and went down Bourbon Street. It was interesting to say the least and it is an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Overall, ASB is one of the best things I have experienced in my life. I loved working on planning it all year. I was so glad to meet and work with Kendra, Stephen, and Angel on planning and raising money for this experience. I am so excited about the group of people that went on this trip. They are all amazing people and I had a wonderful week getting to know them. I think this was the best way to spend my final year at Framingham State by spending my spring break with people who care about the same things that I do, making a difference in people’s lives.

Emily Bliss

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What A Surreal World

I see shirts of green, sun-kissed faces too
I see them burn for you and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see bandannas of blue and caulking of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear hammers banging, I watch houses grow
They've built much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.


New Orleans, Who Dat?

          Here I am again, my second year volunteering for Habitat for Humanity during spring break. This year we dedicated our time to Louisiana to help with the damage caused by the broken levees after Katrina. I still can not believe I am actually here. Being in Louisiana and seeing neighborhoods still in ruins six years later is saddening. Ever since we got here all we have heard from locals are "thank yous" and "we truly appreciate what you are doing". Hearing this from people who experienced the terrible tragedy is heart warming; it motivates me when I am on the Habitat work site. 
           We are here with 30 unique personalities, and I must say we all make a great group! I absolutely love these people. Everyday someone is making me smile or laugh until I have tears rolling down my face. 
            The work site this year has been so fun! I worked with 20 other ASBers the first day and we started building the foundation of a home. The second and third day I overcame my fear and worked on the roof of another habitat home. The scariest part is climbing up and down the ladder, but I told Dave, the construction supervisor, that I will be sliding down it by tomorrow, ha! Working on the roof has been awesome. I am quite the professional at hammering in nails now, my Dad sure will be proud. The Habitat workers we have met are great, genuine people. I've been working with Dave and Noah who have been awesome supervisors and friends. (plus, Noah is a real cutie patootie..mmhmm). Speedy, who I haven't officially met sounds so neat. He has a deep southern accent and has got to be the friendliest man alive. 
              I am really upset that we have to leave in two days. I want to finish our homes and keep helping the people of Louisiana! I am really going to miss the people, the habitat site, and the whole lifestyle of the south. They've got po-boys, gumbo, jumbalaya, and free ice cream at SONIC! woah :)  
              ...It's bonfire time! 

Be Well Y'all! <3      

p.s. don't forget that Dinner is at 5:00pm, not 5:01 or 5:03  ;)
- Sarah "O'Howe"


A southern experience

 Well this is my second time going on Spring Breal, and I have to say that this trip was amazing.  I enjoyed myself on the trip last year, but this year has been out of this world.  From making new friends Alex Bushery and Molly Googen (Sorry if i spelled your name wrong), To rekindling friendships that were made on the first trip, and getting to spend a week with some of my best friends. This experience has been great for a few reasons.
 The first reason was the worksite.  John was our worksite leader and he was great.  he was funny laid back, but was able to instruct us in an easy way so we could get the work done.  The work was much more intense, in my opinion, than last year.  We actually got to build a house from pretty much scratch!!!!!!  Also I was able to get a very nice tan.
 My second reason is the great friendships that I have been able to make.  These people have been at this school as long as me, some longer, but I never would have been able to form the bond that I have formed with these amazing indidviduals.  Also I got to spend a week with one of my best friends Txong Yang and even though he is my roomate it was nice to share such a rewarding experience with him.
 My last reason is the city of New Orleans itself.  I love the night life and especially Bourbon Street.  Even though Rachael Lucking thinks I was a naughty boy on this street, I managed to have a great time without doing anything illegal.  Ok so maybe I went into a strip club or two but I was of age.  Hahahah lol jk.  I had a blast in this city and I don't want to leave.  The city and these wonderful individuals, that I have had the privilegde of spending Spring Break with, I don't want to leave behind.  I know I will never forget this trip and I just want to thank the trip leaders for choosing me to come, even though I wasn't one of their first choices.  lol jk.  Well I could go forever but I feel like I am done.

Nick Magliozzi

P.S. What happens in New Orleans stays in New Orleans 

ASB Monday, March 14th

On Monday, we were able to sleep in a little bit before we spent our day off in New Orleans.  I was so excited to explore the city and I was not disappointed once I got there!  I could see the approaching city from the highway, but the skyline was pretty small, even compared to Boston. I also thought that a lot more of the city would be structured like the French Quarter and was kinda surprised to see big skyscrapers at all.

When we finally arrived at the French Quarter, I looked around at the scenery.  I loved the balconies that overlooked the street, many still decorated with Mardi Gras beads.  Once we parked, we walked to what I considered to be the center of the Quarter, where there was a beautiful church and a park in the center.  After taking a couple group pictures, we made our way to check into our bus tour, which was right by a dock where a steamboat was preparing to board passengers.  A lady, who was on top of the boat, was playing some recognizable songs on a type of organ (the Sesame Street theme, some Disney songs).  After she had quit playing, a drum player came up to us and was selling cds which were made by a local high school.  He then played some songs for us: "Wiggle Jiggle" and one of my favorites "I'll Fly Away" which I knew from the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?  He said that this song is usually played at funerals which I thought was interesting.  After he had gone, we found out that our tour had been delayed and so we went around to some souvenir shops and got a bite to eat.

At 12:30, we got on our tour bus where we met our driver Diane.  She was very informative throughout the entire tour and was a great tour guide!  First, she talked about the history of the Hurricane and showed us maps and clippings.  She also told us that the Hurricane was not the tragedy that had hit Louisiana; in fact, she said that the Hurricane barely hit them at all.  She noted the tragedy as a man-made disaster caused by the levees.  This completely affected my outlook on the tragedy.  Before the trip started, I thought it was just a natural disaster, but after only two days of being on the trip, I became more enlightened of the politics that were involved in Hurricane Katrina and how it seemed that the government had their priorities in the wrong place when they were occupied with the war.

Once we got started on the tour, Diane drove us around the city, showing us the Superdome where they housed survivors of Hurricane Katrina until help could come.  We also passed a cemetery which had the mausoleums that I had always heard about and associated with the area.  We then passed some houses that had been remodeled in the aftermath of the Hurricane.  Some other sites we saw were Lake Pontchartrain with the 26 mile bridge that Joey had told us about and the houses that Brad Pitt is helping to build.  She also told us where he lives which many girls on the trip were pretty excited about as they began to devise plans to get him to come out of his house.

After the tour, we split up and went around the flea market and other shops around the French Quarter.  I didn't buy much the first day, but I browsed a lot of cool antique shops with Rachel, Julie and Tom and made mental notes to go back to certain spots during the week.  On our way, we passed a street guitarist who serenaded the tourists with a song he wrote about World of Warcraft and a homeless man who had an ambulance called for him because someone thought he died.  After that, we all meet up for dinner at the Marketplace Cafe where I had a cheeseburger po-boy that was delicious!  After a long day, we were all tired as we headed back to the van.  After being hissed at by a street performing vampire, we hopped into the van and headed back to the Mission, eager to start our first day at the work site with Habitat for Humanity!

-Corynne Gildea

Its not New Orleans, its Nor'lins!!!!!

Spring Break! Suns out! Jumbolaya! Bourbon street! Nailing shingles on roofs! Its been an awesome, awesome week down here in Louisiana. It's only been a few short days and I'm already loving it down here. We toured the 9th ward and the French Quarter, we went on a great tour of the city of New Orleans and found out it's still slowly rebuilding since Katrina, but there is still so much more to do.
There is a deep and beautiful culture down here in New Orleans that keeps the people here living happily. I hope that in the years to come, our people will help rebuild New Orleans back to what it was before, giving the families back their community because it is an amazing feeling to know that I am down here volunteering with habitat for humanity building homes for families who have been affected by Katrina and having a fun time while doing it.

And I keep saying this and I will keep saying it; this trip is by far the best trip I’ve been on and the best part of it is that I get to share this experience with all these beautiful people that I got to know better each day working alongside them. Each day we woke up happy and we all were ready to work on the sites. It was great knowing that I was with a wonderful group of goodhearted, funny, exciting people that loved the experience as much as I did.Within just a few short days we all made unforgettable memories that I’m sure we’ll cherish forever.
Everyone was awesome and I loved every little part of this short journey and I hope to be able to share another trip like this again with everyone! – Txong :)

Down in 'Ouisy!

Hi guys!

I can't believe the experience that we've had so far down here is Louisiana... or as we call it sometimes.. Ouisy. When I was first accepted into this year's Alternative Spring Break program, I was a little nervous and unsure about what to expect. Would I know anyone else going? Did I have the ability to do the hard labor that working with Habitat would require? There were a lot of unanswered questions. But as time went on and we had our weekly Friday meetings, the trip leaders really did an AMAZING job at making us a tight knit group.

We started our journey last Saturday when we were able to have pre-trip bonding time with a sleepover at Kendra's house. From the first time we were altogether as a group, I feel like we all became sooo close really fast (Molly and I bonded over a special game of Words with Friends.. the rest is history). Our long day of travel on Sunday led to nothing but inside jokes and some crazy pictures.

Our first day (our only day off from work), we ventured out into New Orleans... aka Nawlins. We were able to take a bus tour for about 3 hours, and our tour guide was a very knowledgeable and interesting woman who experienced the effects of hurricane Katrina first hand (or as she referred to it as a man-made disaster). We were able to see the Lower 9th Ward where the effects of the disaster can still be seen today. I have never felt more emotionally connected to a situation that I wasn't actually involved with than I did while on this tour. The tragedy and its effects that changed (and ended) the lives of so many is still so prevalent in this great city. The people here have persevered and there is definite hope for a brighter future. Following the tour, we were able to experience some New Orleans culture (and delicious food!) through shopping and eating our first meal together as a group at The Market Cafe right in the city.

The past three days we have been working on site in Abita, Louisiana in Unity Square, a Habitat community in St. Tammany West parish. Since we are such a large group and there are 3 houses that are being built at the moment, we split up and each worked on a certain site. I chose to stay at the site where I started each day because seeing the work that is accomplished at the end of our taxing but very rewarding 8 hour days is astonishing. On the first day, we struggled a little getting into the swing of things, and there were some minor setbacks. But we kept moving forward. The first day, we started simply by putting the termite shields in and raking a lot of dirt... and I mean a LOT of dirt. Learning to use the tools was great, and I have to say that Nick and I are pretty skilled at using a pic axe (sp?). Today, we were able to hammer away at the floor boards, and it was amazing to see that we accomplished so much since our first day.

Tomorrow is our last day of work, and although it's sad to know that we won't be able to see our finished product first hand, it's so important that we are making such an amazing difference in people's lives. This experience has been life changing so far and I'm so happy that I've had the chance to be here. The friends that I've made here are awesome (and the chaperones are ok I guess... haha just kidding they're awesome) and I hope I am able to participate in next year's ASB!!

Be well!
-Alex Bushery

p.s. - a little sunburn never hurt anyone... right??

Krista Landry: Holy ROOF!?

Hello All a message from Krista,
Day 1-I cannot believe my first day working with the St. Tammany West Habitat for Humanity I was on a roof that only had the wooden beams.  All I can remember is Julie looking down from the top of the ladder and saying "ummm where am I supposed to stand?!"  As I climbed the ladder I could feel my fingers trembling.  I looked over and the wooden beams were  barely enough for me to stand on.... EEEKKKK - what a thrill!!! I helped build an entire side of a roof and put the wooden boards down- I never knew I could do such a thing.

Day 2- Came and went and I worked on another house where I met a woman that I knew we would be changing her life each nail we nailed into each board.  I helped build a foundation where every board had to be the correct measure - if not it was starting from scratch once again. No Joke!  All the different nails there are and I never knew it - it is very important to use the correct nails for each part of different woods - such as pressure treated and non-pressure treated.

**Don't forget to drink lots of water when you are working with Habitat for Humanity... or else you may not feel your best at the end of the day!!**

Day 3- (St. Patty's Day) All of us wore the same T-Shirts and it felt like such a united front of Framingham State University Students- what a bond we are all getting with the time we are spending together here in Louisiana!
 I continued to work on the same foundation of the house from Day 2 today and it was great.  It is awesome to be able to see the progress our team has been making with this house.  The owner came today as well and brought us a little lunch - There is NOTHING and I repeat NOTHING like a home cooked Louisiana meal!  It was amazing you could feel the thankfulness pouring out of the meal from this woman's heart - such an awesome feeling!  We started laying the floor boards by the end of the day today and we can actually stand on it what an awesome accomplishment!  :)

Super excited for tomorrow but a little said that this amazing adventure is coming to an end... I cannot believe with all the planning, fund raising, and group bonding the trip is coming to an end already.  All I keep thinking of is how each and every one of us are changing peoples' lives that was changed for them not within their controls.

That's it for now... I'll keep you posted for later information.

-Krista (the tool woman) Landry

ASB Sunday, March 13th

I don't think I have ever had an experience that has been so enlightening and fulfilling as the one I shared with the ASB group in Louisiana this week!  Even though we only spent a week just outside of New Orleans, it has been a very busy and productive one. 

The first day was probably the most difficult, because it started early and there was a lot of traveling throughout the day.  After a bright and early wake-up at 3:00 (which was really 2:00 because of daylight savings time) we were at the airport by 4:30.  After check in which took a while (we were at Logan after all) we were off to Baltimore and from there after about a two hour layover we were off to New Orleans. 

While we were waiting for the chaperones to get the rental cars, Joey kept us all in high spirits by suggesting that we play a few games such as "the Oreo Challenge" and a Standing on One Leg Challenge" which Melissa won! (alas, I came in third).  After about a 40 minute drive where we passed a stray Mardi Gras float with the Cat in the Hat on it and a long bridge, we arrived at the Peace Lutheran Mission.  At first we were skeptical about where we would be sleeping, but Stephanie, our great host, showed us to our rooms.  I was glad that I was able to get a bunk bed as I was afraid that I might need to sleep in the sanctuary which kinda freaked me out! 

After unwinding from our day of traveling, Kendra put on a very informational documentary called Trouble the Water.  It was filmed by a woman who experienced the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina firsthand.  She recorded the start of the storm, during, and the horrific aftermath. which included the discovery of her neighbor's body in his home.  The documentary also included 911 calls that were made during the storm.  For me personally, this was the most heart-wrenching part of the film.  You could just hear the desperation in the caller's voices, knowing that no one would come to rescue them.  It was clear by the end of the documentary that everyone was deeply affected by it.  Although all of us were deeply saddened by the film, I think that all of us were deeply affected in a positive way as well.  I think that by starting our trip by watching a firsthand account of Hurricane Katrina, we became more aware of why we were here and it instilled a determined and passionate attitude in us which was reflected in the work that we would be completing later that week.

more to follow :)

Corynne Gildea

Eye-Opening Experience

Hi everyone!
Where did the week go? Tomorrow is our last day of building and all I want is more time to finish the job we have started here in Louisiana! I wish we would be able to see the finished product of our hard work, but being able to lay the foundations and work on the beginning of a family's home has been a completely humbling and inspiring project. It is hard to imagine myself sitting in a classroom in a few days when I know there is still so much work to be done. I don't want to leave!
Since I've been here I feel like Hurricane Katrina is constantly on my mind. I remember getting ready for my first day of school while I watched on the news as the weather man reported that Hurricane Katrina was approaching category 5 status and not being able to wrap my head around what that must feel like. I will never know how people felt but being in this area and seeing some of the aftermath helps put it into perspective. The devastation that this state (and others) have felt because of this hurricane is horrifying. Five years later and the effects of this hurricane are still being felt and until I came here I never truly realized it.
There is so much more to write about but for now let me just say that this trip has been one of my all time favorite experiences. I have never laughed so hard and worked so hard in one week! The people are amazing, the southern hospitality has been phenomenal, and the experience has been once in a lifetime!
PS: I still have a few more days to see an alligator! I hope we find one!
-Molly Goguen (Class of 2013)
What a great trip we have all had so far!

My first plane ride ever, in LIFE went so well. It was definitely an amazing experience to be flying so high in the sky that I could be walking on clouds if I stood up! Take off was definitely exhilarating, and feeling the plane rock back and forth as it gained momentum, climbing higher and higher in the sky was an experience I will never forget. I sat on the row by the emergency exit for the extra leg room, as I am a giant and would have felt claustrophobic without it, and there was this lady who sat next to me who was talking on her cell phone during the safety instructions. I felt real secure. While I was extremely tired that morning after about four hours of sleep the night before, I  couldn't close my eyes at all during the flight because I wanted to experience every sight and sound while I was up in the air. We had a layover in Baltimore, and then we took our second flight in to New Orleans. The flight attendants were absolute Southern Bells. They had a million sarcastic jokes that they shared over the intercom and they made the flight very comfortable for everyone. When we arrived in Louisiana we the group hung out for a while while a few others got the vans we would be using for the week! We took lots of pictures and even played the Oreo challenge, trying to get Oreos from our forehead to our mouths without using our hands, and we ALSO had a contest to see who could stand on one leg for the longest. Melissa won! (Kudos to Joey for coming up with these fun games to keep us busy while we waited!) Later on we drove to Peace Lutheran where we settled in for the night, and then after that we watched a documentary of a first-hand account of Katrina and how it affected the people of New Orleans. We learned that response came way later than reasonable, that the residents of New Orleans were not provided with public transportation out of the city; that they were threatened with death by the police and other government/law enforcement agencies if they tried to seek shelter in dry land because there were such crowds of people running for their life from the flood. The next day we learned on the bus tour that New Orleans actually fell victim to a man-made disaster, not a natural disaster, in 2005. The winds that hit New Orleans were around 70 MPH, and the levees, which were intended to hold up for 200 MPH winds, collapsed, causing the flood. The worst part is, there was little to no help from the local and federal government to fix their mistake, and instead the people of New Orleans had to fend for themselves, jumping through hoops to get aid.

There are a million other things I could talk about right now, but I'm going to leave it at that now and get back to you later!

Much <3,

One Nail At A Time

The first night here we watched "Trouble the Water" together as a group. It was very informative and addressed issues the media never covered. I also learned a lot from the tour we took while in New Orleans specifically discussing Katrina. From this tour I learned that it was not truly the hurricane that hurt the city but was more of the flood produced by the levees breaking. We saw many homes that were abandoned and shut down due to the flood. In Abita Louisiana we are buildings homes for displaced people of the flood. I have been working on one site each day and am hoping to meet the owner tomorrow. Today was a very productive and enjoyable day. We were able to lay some of the floor and I hope tomorrow that we will be able to get several walls up! A lot of hammering has taken place but slowly but surely the house is coming together which is really cool to see at the end of each day! Our supervisor Jon is really friendly and funny - he goes with the flow of our energetic spirits! I cannot believe tomorrow is our last day, it all went by really quickly!

~Emily Josselyn

Funtimes in Sunhine

Thus far this week has been an amazing experience.  On Monday we went into the New Orleans and went on a tour and it was very enlightening and helpful.  We went to the Fle-Market after the tour and I bought some gifts for my friends and family... and a few things for myself. 

On Tuesday (our first work day) we divided up into groups and i choose to work on the house that didn't involve a lot of heights.  That day we made the dirt even on the ground because the foundation had already been set when we got there.  We then put termite protectors on top of all the lifts (that keep the house protected from future floods) to protect them from termites and many other bug infections. 
    After dinner that night we did an activity called "True Colors" It was fun to learn about all the different personality's that we have and how we can work with one another to make this trip a good one.

Wednesday back at the work site we started to really build the bottom of the house and had some issues making everything square but once that was all worked on connection the boards to the termite protectors.

Today (Thursday) we started putting the floor on and it was really fun!! The only difficult thing was frequently the nails would bend and you would have to pull nails out and redo them.  They would almost always be easier to do the second time though :) Speedy (one of the supervisors) was really helpful because he was patient with us and would help people (and myself) hammer nails.

Tomorrow is our last day at the work site and will be sad yet exciting because we get to go home always having the memories of Alternative Spring Break 2011!!!!

Pennies and Sunshine

When I was doing fundraising, I was one of those people who would shake my jar of coins at you, hoping for some spare change.  So many people apologized for giving me pennies.  I told them that it was just fine, anything helps. 
I find it interesting that people will actually apologize for donating money to a worthy cause.  I don't actually know the cost of a nail, but I'm sure it can't be very expensive.  I'm sure that the pennies that people apologized for could pay for a lot of nails.  Okay, I just looked it up.  Home Depot has a pack of 2000 nails for $16.58.  Divide that by 2000 and you get 0.00829.  Yay math, and yay pennies!  See?  Your pennies are extremely helpful!
Secondly, I just want to let y'all know that I really don't like the heat.  I don't like to stay out in the sun for long periods of time, and I always avoid going to the beach.  I'm pale and that's how I like it.  And this week, it's gotten pretty hot in the afternoons, especially sitting in direct sunlight, hammering in the endless nails.  BUT.  It doesn't bother me.  I sit in the sun and make my house, and I'm loving it.  I stay hydrated, and I don't even notice the heat.  I learned that a few years ago--it doesn't matter the weather, or where you are.  It's what you're doing that matters.  And if you love what you're doing, you'll be happy.  And besides, why complain about the heat when I can celebrate the fact that I'm fortunate enough to be down here building a house for someone who needs it?
How cool is that?!
--Joanne C, class of 2012

Sunday, March 6, 2011


After the months of planning and all of the hard work Alternative Spring Break is almost here. It is a calming feeling to know that all of the stress, planning all of the small details, and raising all that money will be for the journey that 30 amazing people will make in less than a week.

My job for ASB was to raise money. Already this year we have had a number of events such as bake sales, an Uno's fundraiser, donation tables, and a dating game show event. Our last event before Spring Break is a concert called Broadway on the Bayou. The concert was organized by two Framingham State students who approached us and said that they would like to put on a concert to benefit ASB.

I am a senior this year and I am so honored to spend my last year of college making an impact down in Louisiana. I hope that ASB continues well after I graduate. Considering all of the support that we have gotten from the Framingham State community I feel as if ASB will be a staple at this college.

All in all, I am honored to be a Trip Leader for Alternative Spring Break and to be able to spend my final year of college doing something that I truly enjoy. I have meet so many great people and learned that people can accomplish anything together.

Emily Bliss
Fundraising Trip Leader

Saturday, March 5, 2011


We are leaving in one week!!!!

It is unbelievable that time has passed so quickly and the trip is already here. The amount of work that has gone into this trip is incredible. The trip members have participated meetings each week along with fundraising tables and events! We want to sincerely thank everyone that has helped us along the way by attending events, donating at tables, and offering plenty of advice and encouragement! This trip would never be possible without all the support from the campus community as well as the enthusiasm of the members! 

The general itinerary for the week is:
Sunday March 13th:
  Fly out of Boston 7:35AM 
  Arrive in New Orleans 12:30PM
  Settle in at Peace Lutheran Mission Center in Slidell, Lousiana
  Adventure out for the night to do some sightseeing and touring
Monday March 14th:
  Hurricane Katrina Bus Tour 11:00-2:00
  Explore New Orleans :)
  Watch Documentary Trouble in the Water
  Get an early nights rest!
Tuesday March 15th:
  Our first work day!!!! :)
  Habitat for Humanity Construction 8:00 - 4:00
  Dinner at Peace Lutheran 
  Sightseeing / Staying in 
Wednesday March 16th:
  Habitat for Humanity Construction 8:00 - 4:00
  Dinner at Peace Lutheran 
  Sightseeing / Staying in 
Thursday March 17th:
  Habitat for Humanity Construction 8:00 - 4:00
  Dinner at Peace Lutheran 
  Sightseeing / Staying in 
Friday March 18th:
  Last Workday! :(
  Habitat for Humanity Construction 8:00 - 4:00
  Dinner at Peace Lutheran 
Saturday March 19th:
  Arrive to New Orleans Airport at 6:00
  Board Plane at 8:10AM
  Arrive in Boston 4:10 PM

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi

Be sure to check up on us during our trip! We will be posting the entire time!

Be well,
Kendra Sampson