It was a short, but very eventful weekend. There was so much to do and so little time, so sleep was definitely not an option. Upon our arrival at the Louis Armstrong International Airport, all 55 of us loaded onto a bus titled “Hotard” (which I thought was hilarious) and got ready for a weekend of crazy, fun, shenanigans (oh…and of course learning!). With only two hours of sleep we arrived at our first stop, City Park. City Park is located in the heart of New Orleans and is one of the largest urban parks in the country with a whopping 1,300 acres. We kicked off our tour with a day of community service here. While at city park my fellow poets and I planted trees and paved new pathways and mulched trails for park patrons. There were no tears or blood, but there was definitely lots of sweat on that humid and gloomy day in City Park. The most difficult part in my opinion was avoiding big, mutant, fire ant mounds.

After community service, we were given the rest of Friday and all of Saturday to explore all New Orleans had to offer. Many of us visited Bourbon Street the first night (and trust me, it doesn’t have to be Marti Gras to be fun). Everyday is a party on Bourbon Street. In addition, many of us got to wander around and check out the local voodoo shops, vintage bookstores, cemeteries, and of course, the restaurants! There is NOTHING in the world like good ‘ol southern cookin’.

Sunday started off with an early morning. We all got dressed in our Sunday best and headed to Lakeview Presbyterian Church to sing at their service. Following the church service they invited the entire choir to stay and have lunch with them. Talk about Southern hospitality! After the lovely morning at church, we headed to Tulane University for a masterclass with their choral director Dr. Leonard Raybon (who upon meeting was wearing a bright pink shirt and pink bow tie…he was easily a fabulous combination of Willy Wonka and Karl Lagerfeld).

The masterclass was incredible to say the least and I feel that we all really learned a lot. It was really nice to hear a new perspective on our work.

A few students and I decided to pull an all nighter and finish up our trip by heading to Frenchman Street for some live jazz music. This in itself was worth the trip. I fell in love with the people and the atmosphere completely. The music was incredible! Before we knew it, it was four thiry in the morning and we had to be at the airport within an hour. Such a bittersweet farewell, but I feel that we got the most out of our short little stay in NOLA.

Our trip was a fun and great learning experience. It was amazing to learn about and experience a completely different culture from our own. I really enjoyed taking part in community service and master class at Tulane University.  I look forward to returning to this amazing city in the future. Our weekend in New Orleans was an incredible way to kick off spring break 2012!