New Orleans Mega Exposure

by Syed Matin

This is a city that has been put on its knees on multiple occasions in the past decade and many areas are severely poverty stricken.  As I engage myself in service tomorrow, my intention is to benefit the people of this city and humanity. - First Day Journal 

The service exposure in New Orleans has taught me so much. It has taught me not only about the conditions of the world around me but quite a bit about myself as well. As I look back on my time in New Orleans, working in the sweltering sun and being drenched in sweat, I appreciate all of it – absolutely everything. This allowed me to work on something that is bigger than I am: the effort to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward.

On our first day of work, when we drove around in the Lower Ninth Ward, I was absolutely stunned when I saw its condition. This neighborhood resembled an area one would see in a developing country. It reminded me that although poverty is spoken of as a thing that is far off in some other corner of the world, poverty is a present problem in the U.S. Working to rebuild the Ninth Ward was a very rewarding experience as it allowed me to finally do something for someone else. I saw how appreciative the people in the Ninth Ward were of the work that we were doing.

I am glad that, in addition to working in the Ninth Ward, we were able to see and experience the culture of New Orleans. Spending time in the French Quarter was very enjoyable. The tour that we took of the Louisiana Bayou Swamp allowed me to learn about the problems that New Orleans faces and why it faces these problems. I learned about the history of hurricanes in New Orleans and many of the problems that the area faces are due to people’s actions (building of dams, levees, oil drilling etc.)

This has by far been the most meaningful and rewarding exposure I have had the opportunity to go on through the Schuler Scholar Program. 

Syed Matin is a member of the Maine East High School Class of 2014. During the summer of 2012, he participated in the Junior State of America program in International Diplomacy at Princeton University and visited Washington, D.C. with a Schuler Scholar Program Mega Exposure. Along with eight other students and three AmeriCorps Scholar Coaches, Syed spend a week volunteering in New Orleans on the 2013 New Orleans Service Mega Exposure with the organization


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