Exactly 18 days from now (it’s a little past 10pm on February 19, 2013), we will have traveled over 1500 and most of my students will be walking the streets of New Orleans for the very first time. It’s about this time every spring when I sit down and write a column on what to expect in terms of preparation, of the trip, and what to look forward to in this exotic and shockingly different place.
But when I sat down to do that, I was paralyzed. I’ve probably written a dozen or more such entries since 2008. What can I say new? And then it hit me: I’ve got columns buried in the recesses of the blog that I can recycle. Aren’t we supposed to recycle? And then, rereading some of my previous entries (for the most part — typos still sting) is fun.
So, here is trip down memory lane that I hope will prove useful for this year’s eager and very receptive crop of future NOLA-heads:
Last year, I wrote this entry called Ten Days. It was my attempt to get the class excited about the trip — as if that is necessary. I also tried to get them in the right mindset for the trip and how to approach their encounter with the Crescent City. It was also intended to serve as inspiration for starting their New Orleans journals well in advance of the trip
This a column I wrote back in 2011 called New Orleans in March, i.e. preparing for the trip. Keep in mind, this was for when the class stayed in Madonna Manor over in Marrero, LA. Where we are staying this year shouldn’t be near as creepy, haunted, or utterly fascinating. However, much of the advice of what clothes, begging, and personal effects still rings true. Students still debate about boots vs. sneakers; but if you end up working in demolition, nothing is better insurance than a good pair of boots.
Another one from two years back is New Orleans Quick Reference Guide. In this entry, I pulled together a number of street maps of New Orleans and the French Quarter, as I feel strongly that students should get their geographic bearings in spite of GPS. I also included quick links to New Orleans weather, news, music, events, etc. Back in 2011, I likely assumed students would be relying on their laptops. With smart phones, the same information is more readily available.
This one, from last year, entitled Zero Hour. It is all about the night before departure jitters and anticipation. It does make me wistful, because I am flying down on Saturday this year and chances are, most of you will beat me to the Lower Ninth.
The next two are in the vein of Letters from New Orleans. One I lifted pretty much from a Brett Will Taylor column in nola.com — he didn’t seem to mind, as he commented on the entry. I titled it using a quote from his column: “The normal is strange here; the normal is strange”. The other is one of my favorite essays of all time called Five Ways People in New Orleans are Different from Us. It helps capture my respect, fascination, and love for the folks I’ve encountered in New Orleans. And it is one of my most viewed blog entries ever.
The last of this collection is one of several great student guest contributions from last year’s class. The posting, from Sam Docos, leader of the Baratarians this year, beautifully captures the anticipation and fulfillment of the trip. Pretty much focused on food (wonder where she got that from?), it is called Po’ boy Dreams.
Enjoy. But please stop drooling.