The fourth year of the Senior Spring Break trip to New Orleans will again offer a deepened understanding of American racial, cultural and economic history its failures and triumphs--by focusing on federal, state and community responses to Hurricane Katrina. The recent hurricanes the Texas, Florida and the Caribbean give us a frightening and urgent parallel to consider as we grow to understand how a natural disaster can expose long-ignored systemic inequities. Together with local artists, historians and community organizers, we will learn how committed individuals uncover and bear witness to root causes of problems and become agents of sustainable change. New Orleans has always been an ethnically diverse port city, making it a commercial hub of the American slave economy, and a space of rich inter-cultural encounter. Today, the city’s music and food cultures, community organizations and political dynamics enact the complex legacy of that history. We will learn how and why at the Whitney Plantation and during a French Quarter walking tour. Because the Lower Ninth Ward and other low-lying areas still today have not fully recovered from the failed levees and flood waters caused by Hurricane Katrina, will spend two full days supporting Habitat for Humanity’s rebuilding work. And we’ll also spend slow leisure hours creating a community of our own in our cozy bunkhouse (only two bathrooms for the lot of us!) cooking breakfast for each other, passing time talking on the porch, and enjoying each other’s company. And on one special night we rejoice at how happy the Preservation Hall Jazz Band can make us feel!

Trip Leaders: Dr. Coffey, Mr. Milton, Dr. Cannon, and Dr. Matuozzi
Dates: March 16-21, 2018
Cost: $1500 (est.)
The NOLA trip was a week without anything extra, or superficial. It seemed to be a week that functioned without the fast pace of machinery, and was stripped of the small performances of daily life. The interactions with my peers and teachers were raw and genuine, we spoke honestly and kindly to one another. We had talks over the clogged sink, ones that thrived and swelled even as dirty dishes piled high. We did Habitat for Humanity work that everyone participated in gladly, not for any personal reason but because of an urge and drive to help. There was, in everyone, a true eagerness to learn and better our own understandings, like during the art tour and the Hidden History tour. We were living without computers and heavy phone time, we took short showers, every lunch we had the pb & js we homemade for each other, and we had real conversations on the porch every day, watching the sun rise and fall. It was a joyous week of sincerity and indulging our own inner urges to do well and better ourselves. Although I ate some excessively sugary beignets and a po’boy sandwich filled with french fries, the food was where the extravagance ended, and I will always remember how it felt to live a completely pure week in New Orleans.
In New Orleans, so many of the people we met --like Mr. Odums with his incredible art, or Mr. Waters with the Hidden History tours-- seemed to have built their lives around confronting “the fire of human cruelty” that Baldwin was talking about and doing something meaningful about it. And I think that’s kind of what we did, too, in a small, brief way-- by watching the Spike Lee film, seeing those white supremacist statues, seeing the abandoned buildings of the Lower Ninth Ward, visiting the Whitney plantation, and helping (a little bit) to organize that warehouse and build that house. By March of this year, I’d become sick of the news. I wasn’t even feeling angry anymore; I didn’t want to invest much emotion in a situation that I felt I had little control over. I think one of the things I brought back with me from the trip was a reminder of how to face a dark situation honestly and emotionally while maintaining a sense of hope. I felt really inspired by the people who spoke to us and the places we visited. And of course, I’m grateful that I had the chance to spend more time getting to know you all even better. You guys are the best.
After an hour and a half of sitting on the sidewalk and watching the streets crowd as the sky went dark, I don’t think I could have prepared myself to feel that rush of genuine and overwhelming emotion when we began to listen to the musicians of Preservation Hall. That hour long performance served as a reminder of the more wholesome and beautiful things in life. As a whole, the trip was structured to be something entirely pure. The mixture of community service, short walks in the perfect Louisiana weather, and informative but grounding educational tours and experiences gave this trip more meaning than I had anticipated. The opportunity to room with so many wonderful people that I had never really had the opportunity to engage with outside of an academic setting was amazing, and I most definitely became closer with many of my friends because of it.
I had a lot of trouble describing the trip when I came home. Each time I tried to, I would get lost in descriptions of the damp bathrooms, the sweltering boys’ room, the allergies, and the heat, meaning to recount how wonderful the trip was, and realize that whoever was listening was grimacing at the disaster of discomfort that I was describing. What no one could understand, it seemed, was that the discomfort made the trip better than any hotel room could have -- that it was the communal responsibility to the space and to each other, and the loss of vanity in the sunburns and the sleep deprivation that places the week in an elevated memory space, that makes it a lasting touch of sweetness. It was ridiculous fun, every second of it. I bounced between people and solitude, and everything was elevated because it was one of those rare weeks where everything is different, and there is no need to keep anything the same. I felt enveloped in what I imagined was the city, but might very well have been the people and the house, and when I came out of it, I was cold, no longer allergic, and yearning for more of what I came to imagine was “The South.”
139 West 91st Street  |  New York, NY 10024-1326  |  (212) 873-1650
Located on Upper West Side of New York City, Trinity School is a college preparatory, coeducational independent school for grades K-12. Since 1709, Trinity has provided a world-class education to its students with rigorous academics and outstanding programs in athletics, the arts, peer leadership, and global travel.