From steamboating on the Mississippi River to taking a haunted history ghost walk tour, we dove right into Louisiana history and culture!
Upon arrival, we had the opportunity to tour the University of New Orleans to see what it would be like to be a student on this campus. When evening came around, we dressed to impress for our dinner on the famous Steamboat Natchez. We rode along the Mississippi River and enjoyed a live jazz band! With our stomachs full, the first day in New Orleans ended successfully.
The following morning, we were up bright and early to volunteer at Gloria’s Garden where we painted bricks, weeded out the plants, and cleaned the garden. Then we went to the National World War II Museum and were educated about many different war planes, battles, and the war on the different fronts. The students were split into groups for more interactive presentations, and we got to learn about any battle of our choosing on interactive monitors. For dinner, we all ate chicken tenders or Louisiana Po Boys, which is a common sandwich in Louisiana. After a busy day of volunteering and a museum tour, we had the opportunity to explore the French Quarter and eat some of the famous beignets at Café du Monde!
The next day, we took a trip to the Whitney Plantation, one of the only plantations that has an exclusive focus on the enslaved people that worked the land. The students were exposed to many stories and to the conditions of how formerly enslaved people lived. For example, there were many plaques on the wall that had the names of children (under the age of two) that had passed away on that plantation. Some only had their gender because no name had ever been recorded.
Continuing our adventures, we explored Xavier University of Louisiana. As an HBCU, it is known for the number of black students going to medical school! We then toured Mardi Gras World and saw many amazing floats and sculptures. Students then participated in making their own Mardi Gras masks, allowing them to be creative and to get in the Mardi Gras spirit! To wrap up the night, we had a haunted history ghost walk tour that included many stories about the historic hauntings of New Orleans. Our tour guide led us through more of the residential side of the French Quarter, allowing us to see both the commercial and residential sides of New Orleans.
Unfortunately, it was time to end our trip to New Orleans the following day. We had an amazing experience overall and hope for more amazing merit trips like this in the future!