Destination New Orleans

Day 1: Preparing to Give Back

Long lines waiting to check in, big crowds anxious to go to New Orleans, luggage spread from here to there and everywhere. This was the scene at Howard University today as more than 550 students prepare for a “mission trip” to New Orleans in the contuing effort to restore and rebuild the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina.

Loading up at Cramton Auditorium, students were expected to sign in, place luggage in designated areas and find their appropriate buses for departure. With sign-in starting at 8 a.m. by last name and going in increments of 30 minutes, students rapidly began piling up. Students were signing in, snacking on the refreshments provided, and socializing until it was time to be addressed by our president, H. Patrick Swygert.

Scheduled departure was designated to be for 12 p.m., but it is now 2:04 p.m. and we are just now departing. Why is this you ask? There was pure chaos with the signing in process, luggage placement and bus assignments. Though the plan may have been well thought out, the execution got lost somewhere in the process.

Students were confused, frustrated and anxious to know what was going on. Bus assignments were mixed up, students were late and organizers were losing their minds trying to get everything together.

Dean Bernard Richardson kindly reminded us that “this is not about us, this is not about our organizations, this is not even about our university, this is about the people of New Orleans.” Hearing those words helped some get through the choas and remember that through all the unorganization and confusion, our mission is to assist all those affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Sade Dike, who’s going to ASB with the Howard University chapter of the NAACP, said that she could be doing something else but in the words of Charles Hamilton Houston, “How can I rest when there’s work to be done?”

As we prepare on our journey to help rebuild and restore the beauty that New Orleans once was, we remember that “this is not about us, this is not about our organization, this is not even about our university,” but we are here to help the people of New Orleans and that’s what we are going to do.