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Moving to New Orleans

September 10, 2012

Liza with her team (Liza is pictured fourth from the right)

By Liza Drennon, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Green Elementary School

I moved into my house in uptown New Orleans on July 4, 2012. I had visited the city many times before, and so the landscape, food, and architecture did not take me by surprise the way it did for others. It was the love that people have for this old city, and the excitement that is shared for the simple love of life that was new to me.

The weekend I arrived I stayed at my brother’s house in Treme, the neighborhood that is known for where the music of New Orleans came from. We were sitting on his stoop, like so many locals do, when we heard an amazing brass band coming up the street. That afternoon I danced my way through my very first second-line. I knew I had chosen the right city to serve in.

It took a while to meet people within City Year that I really connected with. Being the youngest I felt constricted to speak out in discussions, and I was nervous to go up to people who I knew had more experience than I. But once I broke out of that shell I started to go out and see the real New Orleans: The colors of the houses, the sounds of the streets, and the smells of the food that surround you. We went to parades where young children played the trumpet like no one else, we ate food from small shack-like restaurants, and learned the ropes on how to be poor in a city where you want to do nothing but spend money.

Training started right away and so growing happened in what felt like minutes. I had to learn to cook for myself, plan how I was going to spend my money, and how to become good with time management. It was hard to find time to socialize, as hours were long and the entire corps, including myself, was exhausted by Friday. But of course we did not let that stop us from going to Frenchman and hearing music, getting lost in the rough part of the Bywater and just getting to know each other on a screened in porch in Mid-City. New Orleans has taken us all by surprise; none of us expected to fall so in love with a city and culture in such a small amount of time. Though it has only been two months, many people talk about how they don’t think they can ever leave.

School starting also changed things for each of us very quickly. We went from seeing and talking and spending so much time together as a group of 30 to only seeing and talking and spending so much time together as groups of ten. My group at Samuel J. Green charter school is so incredibly close, and I know the other two teams are as well. We love staying behind at work and talking to each other about our day, about our plans for the week, or just catching up on how each of us are feeling. And though the groups are close, and we all share things that others don’t always understand, when the City Year New Orleans corps gets together, it’s like we were never apart. We still love to share about the food we have recently eaten, or the music we have recently seen. New Orleans  brought us together.

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