In their own words

By Mac Weekly Staff

Nick Reynolds ’06 Having participated in the Macalester sponsored trip to the hurricane ravaged Southern coast, I will forever have a distinct connection to the South.

Living my whole life in Minnesota, these national tragedies were always distant and almost impossible.

Now I’m asked to reflect on the trip and I’m lost. So, I am forced to mention a few things that will always stand out.

I have never formed such deep friendships as quickly as I did with my classmates and the people I met on this trip. I witnessed what I called “terrible Christmas trees;” thick foliage littered with impossible amounts of garbage and tattered clothes swinging from the branches.

I have eaten the best barbeque of my life, prepared for me out of the purest form of generosity by people who have nothing. I have seen entire areas once covered with homes that are now flat and barren.

I have seen cars in trees, joyful smiles, cockroach swarms, one hell of a Martin Luther King Jr. parade, and solitary, water stained photographs of people long since departed.

So much needs to be said, and yet, to experience it, one needs to go there. I did, and I’ll be forever grateful for that opportunity.

Miriam Larson ’08

We were a big group of educated, privileged, mostly white folks who went to one of the poorest areas in the country to “help.”

We went at it tearing down moldy walls, clearing debris, and rebuilding houses from the inside out. But it is not mine to say whether this was useful.

We saw the miles of devastation as we drove for more than an hour along the coast past barges swept onto land, trees plastered with garbage like hurricane leaves, and houses without a first story.

We learned how to do the jobs asked of us; I honed my hammering skills and learned how a frame is built in a wall.

These seem to be the most valuable outcomes to me also because I question the value of our volunteering.

I wonder whether our presence reinforced dependence on outside help rather than building the community’s independence. I wonder whether I went as a “disaster tourist;” for the adventure and to feel good, or whether I built solidarity and saved a homeowner money.