“Change is often hard, but it’s the hard stuff that makes you grow.” – Quote take from mural at Camp Hope
At our Tuesday night meeting we shared our experiences from the day’s work at the homes as well as what we learned from the professional interview that we had at the New Orleans Covenant House. This conversation stirred up in all of us a lot of thoughtful reflections, observations, questions and discussions about a number of provocative issues, including such topics as race, class, gender, and other ethical concerns. There were lots of dilemmas that we were able to face and discuss together.
One dilemma was whether or not to we should take time off from building a home to speak with the homeowner and listen to her story of grief, loss, trauma, and devastation. We felt torn as we wanted to continue rebuilding her home. But we also felt the importance of taking time to listen and respect that she wanted to share her story.
In response to this concern, Irwin Nesoff, one of our professors in Social Work, helped us out by assuring us that, “The service you were doing by letting this woman express her voice was just as important as rebuilding her home.”
Another realization that we came to in this meeting was around a question that we had raised about race and privilege and the demographics of volunteers who are a lot like us who participate in the St. Bernard Project. We are able to come to New Orleans and spend a week rebuilding homes for people who may be different from us in their racial and economic backgrounds. The conclusion that we came to was that the people whose homes are currently being rebuilt by volunteers are grateful for all of the help that they receive regardless of who you are. When we listen to their stories we know that we’re a small part in their rebuilding of their lives.
-Lauren Wilson and Peter Bartmon