When Hurricane Katrina hit, I was 9 years old. I never would have guessed that I would end up in New Orleans 10 years later rebuilding one of the houses affected... but I did. At my university there is a program called Alternative Spring Break, where students are given the opportunity to spend their Spring Break doing a service project. Prior to being in New Orleans, I had no idea what to expect, but the impact that week had on me was profound.
My university partnered with a non-profit organization called ‘Youth Rebuilding New Orleans.’ YRNO was created by young people in New Orleans who were committed to seeing their city thrive again after Hurricane Katrina. Many people believed that the (then) teengagers were too young to handle such an ambitious task, but Youth Rebuilding New Orleans has been quite a success. I think it’s easy for others to underestimate the younger generation, but the volunteers of this organization typically range between the ages of 15-24.
Although we worked for a majority of the week, we also had time to explore the city. New Orleans is so alive; there is energy in the air that I can’t even describe. The people, food, history, and music made the trip an unforgettable experience. What amazed me the most were the employees working at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. Some were born and raised in New Orleans, and at a young age they saw the destruction of the city they loved, and they have been able to watch it flourish again. Their resilience and passion is something I respect and admire. I know I’ll never be able to comprehend what they went through, but I was grateful to be helping to return a little magic back to their city.
After Hurricane Harvey and Irma hit, I think the whole country was in shock. As we watched the news updates, we all felt sympathy for those affected. Immediately we saw different companies and organizations take major actions to help. However, there is also power in the smaller acts we take, whether that means donating whatever you can to an organization or participating in service trip available to you. We shouldn’t let the size of an issue make us feel as though we can’t make a positive impact. You might not end up on a construction site like I did, but whatever you can do to help is significant.
Olivia Pandora Stokes is 21 and entering her senior year as a business administration major, with a marketing concentration. She has a love of words, Netflix, and reading.She takes her coffee strong (Harvard scientists insist it's healthy for you) and her feminism intersectional. In the future Olivia Pandora plans write more and use business to create a positive impact in the world.