Saturday, December 23, 2006

Departure

I got home on December 5 – my last few posts have been made from Coeur d’Alene, ID. I will continue blogging, as I have lots more to say about what I saw/learned in New Orleans, and about continuing news developments there. My next post will likely be one about the philosophy/mission of the Episcopal Church’s gutting program. I am also writing two articles for the Idaho Spokesman Review about New Orleans, and I will share those here.

While I'm glad to be back in North Idaho with my family for the holidays, I wish I was returning to Louisiana on January 2, rather than school in New Hampshire. Several reasons:

1. In New Orleans, I may not have been important or high-ranking, there were many people above me in the chain of command, but I did have my own role and my own responsibilities. I was me, doing my thing, and people knew me. At school, I will go back to being just one more student out of 4,000.

2. What I was doing in New Orleans was direct service. At Dartmouth, the only opportunity for direct service is a limited program on Saturday mornings. Sure, I can do activism and paperwork service, but that’s not direct service. For the most part, it’s back to self-indulgent activities and academia.

3. It felt good to get to know my way around New Orleans, and learn about the city, the storm aside. There’s just something about that place that hooks you once you drink the water. It happens to so many people – they come for a week and never leave. New Orleans feels more like home to me than Hanover, NH, and I’ve spent three times as much time in Hanover!

4. In Louisiana, most of my late afternoons and evenings were free, so I got lots of reading and personal reflection accomplished. At Dartmouth, as in high school, I’m often 24/7 busy with activities, groups, and studies. I would like to continue enhancing my prayer life and finding time to stop, breathe, think, and reflect, but I’m worried that I’ll get sucked right back into the busy vortex.

The readjustment will be tough, but I’m sure I’ll get through it without too much trouble. It’s something I have to do. As much as I may want to go back to New Orleans, it’s just not an option – I need to finish my degree. This may not be direct service now, but it’s preparation for direct service later.

I said my goodbyes to some of our regular customers at the mobile unit. One sweet older lady I got to know got very sad and said, “Why you leavin’ us, baby?” When I told her I had to go back to school, she was very understanding, and said yes, I need to finish my degree. Then she gave me a kiss on the cheek! Another lady, also sad to see me leave, was even more insistent that school was the right path for me to follow. How about that! I don’t mean to make a racial thing of this, but black mamas are always so wise! Even in the midst of their own struggles, when they need all the outside help they can get, they’d still kick my butt if I didn’t help myself by going to school!

No comments: