New Orleans Journal Assignment Monday, Feb 21 2011 

To my students:

We are about three weeks away from the New Orleans trip and you are probably starting to think about it. The Spring Break trip through UNH-ABC provides a unique and rewarding opportunity to learn more about the New Orleans area, its culture, and its people. In addition, you might learn a good deal about yourself. And that is what I’d like for you to capture in your New Orleans Journal.

Mazant Street, New Orleans, March 2009.

I started my trip-related blog in 2008 to set an example for my students and because I regretted not recording my thoughts during my trips in 2006 and 2007. And I get so much out of reading your thoughts and perceptions of New Orleans and the experience. For that reason, the New Orleans journal assignment has become my favorite one to grade – ever.

As for the assignment: each student is required to keep a journal of their experience. You should begin writing at least a week before the trip in order to record your expectations, interests, fears, etc. You should also continue writing in your journal for at least a week after you return. This will give you time to process and reflect upon your experience. Your journal can be in any form that conforms to your communication style (notebook, illustrated portfolio, blog, etc.) just so long as I can read it!

I don’t want to be too prescriptive about the journal, because I want you to be able to play to your strengths. While entries in a blog work for me, it might not work so well for you. However, I do want to provide some guidance of what I’ll be looking for when I finally sit down to read them.

  • Your journal should include entries beginning a week before the commencement of the trip and for at least a week after you get back, with regular entries in between. I will not be collecting them until about mid-April, because some students choose to record their thoughts for several weeks after they come back. (25%)

Uptown Indian Parade, March 2008.

  • You should aim to describe and provide some context for the sights, sounds, and feel of New Orleans. (25%)
  • I’d like to see a substantial level of introspection about the overall experience, including the trip, workdays, group interaction, etc. This will likely become easier toward the end of the week and following the trip. (25%)
  • I almost always appreciate creativity, insight and humor, i.e. make me glad I get to read it! (25%)

These journals are part of your course work and, as such, I cannot nor will not share them with anyone else without your expressed permission. If you have any questions, just let me know.

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New Orleans Journal Sunday, Feb 24 2008 

OK, we’ve got less than three weeks to go and I’m going to set a good example and start my own New Orleans journal. I have often intended to do this, but I never seem to be able to bring it off. I have a dozen notebooks and journals with a couple of paragraphs here, a page and a half there; the problem is, I suspect I always set my heights too high.

This time, I’m going to back off of grandiose plans. This is not going to be some grand literary work. I’m aiming to record my thoughts on a fairly regular basis in short, hopefully thoughtful, postings to this blog. You can follow along if you like and since it is a blog, you can comment or respond to my postings.

As for you guys, I’ve rethought this assignment a bit. I’ve decided that content is more important than form. I’m more interested in your thoughts, your expectations, your fears and your hopes, than whether you write a blog, a wiki, a Word document, or a collection of hand-written 3×5 cards tied together with Christmas ribbon. So long as it’s in English and written so that these aging eyes can make it out. I just want to make sure you do it and get something out of it. And yes, it would be great to see examples of where course content and the trip to the Gulf intersect. That is part of the exercise. And, like much of this course, it is something of an experiment or work in progress.

As stated in the syllabus, each student should begin writing at least a week before you leave for Waveland, MS and continue writing until at least a week after his or her return. You can turn it in to me anytime after that for me to read and grade. I will need it by the last day of class; needless to say, I’d appreciate seeing it sooner. Whether you make make it available to anyone else — class, individual, or otherwise — is entirely up to you.