Thursday, March 14, 2013

And we're back...

We're back in NYC and other parts of the country. Once again, we had a great experience in New Orleans! Check back here for some reflective posts from team members as they look back on the week. Thank you to our families, friends and many, many supporters! We couldn't have done it without you! Here are a few photos from the last few days. To see a complete online album of photos visit our Shutterfly site,  Don't worry, you don't have to join anything to see the photos.

Paton back up on the roof for one last time.

Kelsey & Rebecca caulking to start sealing in the house.
Braxton & Enrique performing for volunteers at our Habitat site.

Leiland performing to an original piece by Molly Joyce, performed by Mariam on violin.

Stephanie & Charlotte.

Final day working with the kids at the YMCA. They got to perform for everyone!

Another group of YMCA students performing!

Performing at The Lusher Charter School on our last day in New Orleans.

Said as the Wicked Witch, Daniel & Lorrin as flying monkeys in our version of the Wizard of Oz.

The musicians doing a little acting with our drama folks and getting the children involved.

The finale, our group song, a mash-up of IZ's version of Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mid-Week Update

Wednesday, March 6

Hey everyone, this is Paton, one of the actors on the team this year. I'm here to write an update about what turned out to be my most challenging day on the trip.

Wednesday was tricky. It was our second day on the Habitat site and our third day at the YMCA. The weather was pretty cold early on and we were all sore from hammering thousands of nails the day before; needless to say, all I wanted to do was nap in the van. Alas, houses do not build themselves, so out we went, coffee in our bellies, at 7:45am.

I was hoping that I'd be on the roof, being that I had the pleasure of lifting the trusses over my head while on a 15 foot ladder the day before. I have a great love for heights, as my teammates have discovered, so that hope was getting me through the van ride. However, another house was in need of painting today, so over half of our team was pulled to that site to work instead. I tried holding my ground, but they needed one more person, so I ended up going there at first. It turned out to be fun, of course: everyone singing Mumford and Sons and Beyonce while painting a ceiling goes very well together.

Lunch time came and we were reunited with our other teammates. With jealous eyes I looked at Enrique and Jacob hanging from the trusses as I ate my (fantastic) homemade turkey and cheddar on white. But I have good news! I was allowed to say with the other team and get harnessed to the rooftop!!! VICTORY. This day was looking up... literally. We raised the roof... literally. Okay, I'll stop.

3:40pm rolled around so we packed into the vans again and headed over to the Y. I thought I was tired before, but by now I was exhausted. Despite my low energy, I was really looking forward to working with my students with Braxton and Lorrin, the other two members of my teaching team. Our first day was rough, but our second seemed to go a bit better. Our 6th graders had a LOT of energy and didn't always know what to do with it. We seemed to have a good system down by this point, so I was excited to do our new activities we had planned.

After the group games with all the students in the cafeteria we headed up to our classroom and, well, let me put it this way, nothing went according to plan. Maybe it was because it was the middle of the week for the students, maybe everyone was tired, maybe everyone was frustrated, I don't know... But the energy was so chaotic Braxton, Lorrin, and I really found ourselves having to buckle down and try to figure out what would work best for everyone. By the end of the hour and 15 minute class, I didn't know if I'd make it to the van without some caffeine.

It is so interesting to me how I ended up getting to know the kids, really. It wasn't so much the games we'd play, which is what I expected, but it was in the small moments shared when I had to take someone to the bathroom, or when one of my students stayed after class to help me put the chairs back in order. There were so many little moments that gave me hope that what we're doing here does matter, and does make an impact. It feels like we're a tornado blowing through because of how short of a time we have there and that we don't really know what they'll remember. We just hope they will.

Back home, finally, we were treated to an amazing home cooked Mediterranean themed night by our fellow teammates. But oh, we didn't stop there. After cleaning up after dinner, we went on a much needed trip to Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter for some beignets and cafe au lait. Powdered sugar for the win.

Overall, today was a day full of surprises, heights, yelling, and discovery. Sabrina said something that really stuck with me: "we are planting seeds." Which we are, all week long, and we also need to have patience for their growth.

And I think I'm getting there.


Habitat/YMCA Wrap-Up

Thursday, March 7th

Hi guys! Jacob here. Today was our third and final day at the Habitat for Humanity worksite. We started off the morning with more hard work on the house. The progress we made in three days was absolutely incredible! After lunch on site, the teamed performed for all of the other volunteers on a makeshift stage near the house. Despite a few technical difficulties (our piano blew a fuse!), we were still able to give a wonderful performance, and our audience seemed to really enjoy it. But amongst all the joys of performing and finishing our work on the house, there was a rather sad moment. We learned that Mike, our Habitat supervisor, will not be joining our team next year. He will remain in our hearts and thoughts as he journeys on to law school. Good luck Mike! We will miss you dearly.

Before we all left the site, we signed our names on different parts of the house. I felt as if I had left a part of myself there within the house, and I knew that all the blood, sweat, and tears I had put into my work were worth it. This was also an enlightening moment for me. I realized how blessed I was to be a part of this group. Much like a house, each individual is crucial to the structure of the whole. We are all tremendously supportive and bring out the best in one another. And it was at this moment that I realized we weren't just building a house. We were building a home.

Today was also our last day with the kids at the YMCA. Throughout the week, our kids worked on skits, games, songs, etc. to perform for their classmates, and today was performance day! All the groups did a fantastic job, and I felt incredibly inspired by all the teamwork and collaboration between the teachers and students.

In various group meetings, we have talked about "planting seeds" as a metaphor for what we are trying to do for these kids. We don't expect nor aim to transform their lives in four days. Rather, our goal is to give them tools -"plant seeds"- that will later allow them to blossom into strong, educated, inspired, beautiful men and women. This week, we planted seeds. Now they can blossom.

Before a delicious dinner at the Praline Connection, we wrapped up the night with a reflective group meeting, where everyone shared their personal experiences in the past week. It was incredible to hear what this week has done for the various team members, and I am so glad that I got to share this journey with them. This week has been life changing for me, and I know that many of the other team members feel the same way.

That's it for today! It was definitely my most memorable day thus far. More tomorrow!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A few days behind...

So, we've been really busy so we're a few days behind in writing on the blog.  After our great day at NOCCA, a Juilliard and NOLA Team alum sent us this Youtube video she found. It's a NOCCA student speaking about the team's visit and inspiring to all of us. If you get a chance watch it all the way through.

Tuesday was our first day at Habitat for Humanity. Mike is our site supervisor again and we couldn't be happier. The house at 2320 S. Johnson Street had its frames up so the team literally "raised the roof" and installed all the roof trusses (see picture already posted).  Habitat is very hard work but very much worth it. We're helping build a home for a family. How awesome is that?!?! We embarked on the 2nd day with kids at the YMCA. Some downs but a lot more ups. We're looking forward to the kids' performance on Thursday. 

A highlight of the day was having a homemade dinner at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Shreves. They are New Orleanians that we got connected to who have supported this year. Mrs. Shreves also got some of her friends to help out the team and they were all instrumental in helping us make budget this year.  Mrs. Shreves has a beautiful home and it was sooooo nice to be a comfy and cozy home with an adorable dog named Katie and  homemade red beans and rice. Mrs Schrenk and Mrs. Guarisco also helped with dinner.  Dinner was delicious and the conversation warm and welcoming. They really showed us the true meaning of southern hospitality. They took in 23 strangers into their home without a thought. The team performed for them and some neighbors in the living room and on the patio, talk about an intimate performance!

We came back to a short team meeting and wonderful moment of heartfelt words and genuine emotion by one of the team members. Thank you for sharing Han.

As it says in one of the songs performed by the team,"...because I knew you, I have been changed for good." - from the musical Wicked.

Pictures from Habitat and the YMCA

Here are some pictures from Habitat and our work at Dryades YMCA on Wednesday!

Best view in town

Climbing around

On top of the house

Chelsea and Braxton on the Habitat Site

Jacob finding his groove

Robert leads the group in a warm-up

Mariam introducing the violin

JJ leading Rocketship

Mariam and Kelsey in group games

And finally the aftermath of an evening visit to Cafe du Monde!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Some Pictures from NOCCA

As detailed in yesterday's post we had a fantastic time visiting NOCCA!

A quick jam session before teaching!

What a view!

NOCCA - Juilliard shout outs on the Twitter Board

Paton and JJ, in their natural form.

Leiland, Daniel and Kelsey leading class

Gia, Ashley and Lorin 

Said channeling his inner villian

Braxton and Enrique 

Barber Adagio

Final Q and A Session

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Visit to NOCCA and the YMCA

After yesterday's uplifting performance, we began Monday with a trip to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts - NOCCA.  A high school for arts students in the New Orleans area, NOCCA runs a full day academic program in addition to its offerings in a huge variety of artistic pursuits - it covers everything from dance to culinary arts.  

After a tour of the beautiful facility, featuring sweeping views of the Mississippi River, the team split up so that we could each work with students who shared our specialty.  Following the classes, we all gathered in NOCCA's Lupin Hall, where the the team put on short performance.  
Daniel and Lorin started us off with mesmerizing duet, Paton and JJ moved the team and the audience with their poetry and rendition of 'For Good' from Wicked, Said wowed the crowd with an aria from Der Freischutz, Enrique and Braxton delivered some toe tapping jazz, and Mariam shared Molly's beautiful piece for solo violin.  We finished the show with an excerpt from Barber's unparalleled 'Adagio for Strings" and the dancers' joyful group performance to "Ease on Down the Road'. 
Our visit ended with a Q and A session with all the students in the audience.  Its always a joy to work with the students at NOCCA, many of whom are looking to make a transition to arts conservatories and colleges around the country in the near future.

Next stop for the team was the Dryades YMCA where will be working for the next three days.  Here the group dove into team teaching, working with small groups of students as part of our after-school arts program.  From the hallway you could hear the sounds of singing, music, and laughter.  At our end of day reflection each teaching team told of their varied experience in their own classroom.  There were triumphs of communication and challenges in areas of discipline and respect.  Every group of students we visit this week comes with a unique set of joys and hurdles.

On a final note, its worth mentioning the completely awesome dinner we sat down to after teaching.  With fantastic burgers on the new grill, rice, salad, beans and a peach cobbler worth blogging about, this year's team is continuing a tradition of fantastic teamwork that stretches beyond the stage - right into the kitchen.

Tomorrow we start work with Habitat for Humanity!  Stay tuned for pictures from today and more reports from New Orleans through out the week.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

New Pictures!

Hello Friends!
Below find some picture from our first 48 hours in New Orleans - Here we've captured moments of a wild two days - rehearsing anywhere there's space, eating fantastic food, and performing at Trinity Church on Sunday night.  Stay tuned for more!

Rehearsal - Paton and JJ

Stephanie and Charlotte

Lunch by the River

Gia with Beignets!

Rehearsal for the group dance

Gia and Ashley

Shortly after arrival!

With Mayor Mitch Landrieu


Maria and Charlotte start us off!

Daniel and Lorin

Paton and JJ

Ease on Down the Road!

Accepting a Proclamation from the City Counsel

Enrique's biggest fan

A satisfying Sunday!!!!

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Hello Friends, JJ here. Lets get to it!

The NOLA 2013 team had quite the exciting day! Sabrina and Rebecca took us on a tour of areas of the lower ninth ward that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina.  I must say, that was the beginning of the what I'm sure will be many humbling experiences this week.

We then enjoyed some kick-back time in the French Quarter for a few hours, where some of the team members took in some New Orleans festivities.  My two favorite moments included an encounter with a local band that asked Enrique to play and Daniel and I to dance. We then ordered a nice lunch full of local specialties and sat by the pier together.

Afterwards the dancers of the group challenged a few local break dance stars to a battle (which we won of course). We then arrived at the beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church, where we put on a performance for the local community. It was by far one of my greatest experiences. The Mayor of New Orleans graced us with his humbling presence and honored us with a certificate of recognition. We also received a Proclamation from the City Council of New Orleans. BAM! GO JUILLIARD!!!!

We finally headed home just in time for some pizza and a team meeting to plan out our next day!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bon jour, New Orleans!

We have arrived safely here in the Big Easy! After a bright and early start this morning at 7 am we all loaded into the super shuttle to catch our 10 am flight. We somehow managed to maneuver 23 suitcases and 23 people  into 2 vans. Instead of heading straight to the bunk house, we stopped for some beignets and a cafe au lait! We have our priorities straight. Once the team was rejuvenated from the all of the delicious sugar and caffeine, we made our way to the HONO house where we will be staying for the next week. We had a nice orientation with Peyton (not to be confused with our Paton!) where he made us feel welcome and gave us a nice lay of the land. The team then separated into 2 groups and traveled to Walmart and the grocery store to get the necessary items needed for the week. When we reunited at the house, cooking team one went to work on serving breakfast for dinner. It was a delicious meal that consisted of strawberry chocolate chip pancakes, hash browns, quiche, fruit salad and bacon. As the kitchen was being spotlessly cleaned, we were serenaded by Sabrina singing R&B with JJ, Leiland, and Said as her background dancers. Meanwhile, Enrique and Jacob did a fantastic job building a grill from scratch so that the team can have BBQ this week! Thanks guys! We then proceeded to have a team meeting to go over tomorrow's agenda followed by a group song rehearsal. After a few times practicing, we all got into the swing of things and the the team erupted into a beautiful sing-along. Finally, each division met to rehearse their respective pieces for the show tomorrow. The house is jitteriness with excitement and anticipation of the upcoming week! It's bed time! Until tomorrow....Au revoir!

Friday, March 1, 2013

And we're off...

We depart New York City bright and early tomorrow morning, Saturday, March 2, for New Orleans! A big thank you to all our supporters, emotional and financial, raffle ticket buyers, bakers, bake sale patrons, donors, the Juilliard community, families and friends! We could not have done this without y'all! Keep up with our service adventures here on the blog. As they say in the Big Easy - laissez les bon temps rouler! - let the good times roll!