Monday, March 21, 2011

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

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