Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's hard to believe that the week is already over!

This morning the HONO bunkhouse is alive with the sounds of packing and preparations for departure - the last few days have been exciting, fulfilling and alternatively magical and inspiring for the team. 

Thursday we finished our after school arts program at the YMCA with a performance by our students for their peers and parents.  Performances ranged from demonstrations of "The Human Knot" to Salsa dancing!  In the end, every teaching team's group had their moment up on stage.  Afterwards, the school's impressive marching band gave us an impromptu performance on the street outside. 

Earlier in the day, we had a performance of our own - a show right on the Habitat for Humanity worksite.  Mike and other volunteers built us a stage with the same materials we were using to complete the house.  Our progress in our short three days on site - roof beams, insulation, Tyvek, and windows - was evident in the background of performances including the actors' hilarious improv game, Philip's "If I Loved You", and other group collaborations. Even with the quirks of a passing motorcycle and helicopter, the team enjoyed being able to present a show to other volunteers we've come in contact with over the week.

Yesterday we concluded our "workweek" with a day of masterclasses at NOCCA. Because Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) happened to be visiting the school on the same day, the classical musicians got an extra bonus of working with their students in their respective instrumental masterclasses in the morning. After recharging with Brian's delicious jambalaya, the whole team split up in their respective divisions to work with NOCCA's students for the afternoon. Overall, it was a great way to end the week.

We celebrated the week's accomplishments with a team dinner at Mulate's, where Gia and Midori got certified in Cajun dancing as our one-and-only Chelsea performed on the fiddle with the band! It was an exciting night for the whole team, and a perfect way to end the trip.

Until next year, New Orleans!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Today was day one at the Habitat for Humanity site which meant a 6 am wake up call for the team...earliest start of the trip so far (besides that 2 am departure from Juilliard that turned into an unexpected 14 hr travel day on Saturday -__- )! We spent the day hammering away and putting up sheath to cover walls that were already up. Last year when we finished our time with Habitat we had just put the walls up; so this time around it seemed like we started right where we left off (but with another house of course).  The best part of the day was when Benny and Chernel (homeowners from last year's house) stopped by the work site to say hi and tell us about their time in their new house since they'd moved in (the picture is of returning Project members in front of the finished house). When we stopped by their neighborhood yesterday, they weren't home, but the neighbor told them we had stopped by. So they decided to come visit us today! They openly expressed their gratitude and even remembered some of our names! It's rewarding to see that relationships we've built over our past trips have remained.

After Habitat for Humanity we headed over to the YMCA for day 2 of teaching. It was great to see the kids and have more time with them after a shortened lesson yesterday. The energy of the students was both rejuvenating (especially after a full day of Habitat for humanity) and a challenge! We look forward to more building, teaching and (of course) fun tomorrow!

....also, breakfast for dinner!

...........WHO DAT??!!!!!!

After two full days here in New Orleans, we're tired, yet very inspired. Yesterday evening was extremely memorable for the members of the NOLA team. Our performance at the church was a lively mix of different and expressive performances. We were so lucky to have a first official rehearsal of the show and it was a chance for all of us to see each other doing what we do best. Everyone was so pleased with how the show went because it was undoubtedly collaboration at its finest. Afterwards we had a little meet and greet with some patrons at the church, one being the first lady of New Orleans!

Skipping to today, we started the morning off with a tour of the Lower 9th Ward, which was very emotional. Our team took a group photo in front of the levy that had previous been destroyed from Hurricane Katrina. Later on, we had lunch by the Mississippi River. Some of us had our first taste of ALLIGATOR!! GAHHHH, I'M GONNA EAT YOU!! I'M AN ALLIGATOR!!! GAHH!!......"The portions of Jambalaya were SOOO small and I was LIVID!!!!" -Anonymous.......

Anywayssss, the YMCA was a blast and a half. All the teaching groups met with their students today for the first time. A lot of us thought it went much smoother than we planned. The kids were very reserved, but at the same time out of control. However, you could tell that each and every one of them had a sweet soul inside of them. We can't wait to see what we get out of them in the next couple days. Beginning with the group games was TOO much fun. Richard was absolutely hilarious and such a great leader. HE PEELED THAT BANANA!!! The kids also enjoyed FLEA! KOOMALANA KOOMALANA KOOMALANA FEISTAAAAA!!!!!!........O, no no no not the FEISTA!!!

For the rest of the week, we say, BRING IT ONNNNNN!!!!!!!!!<3

Sunday, March 4, 2012

We're Here!

After an exhausting journey, the team awoke this morning well-rested and ready to explore New Orleans!

Yesterday a group of us missed our connecting flight and were waiting standby on every flight. Luckily by the third flight out of Houston, we were all able to get on a flight and catch a few more minutes of sleep. Arriving back at HONO brought back many great memories from years past, and we lost no time getting acquainted with Paolo and Andrew from HandsOn New Orleans at the bunkhouse! Arriving much later than expected, we made our essential Walmart run for groceries before heading back home for a brief meeting and performance rehearsals. As a special treat, the group went for a late night beignet run at Cafe du Monde.

Today we are setting the morning aside to visit the French Quarter. With Corey's generous pancake-making skills, the group is well-fed and ready for some adventure!

The rest of the day will be spent doing last-minute dress rehearsals before our first performance of the week at Trinity Church tonight! Wish us luck!