In September Duchesne House welcomed faculty and friends from the University of San Diego here for a local conference. They graciously invited Duchesne House staff to profit from the input they were getting and of course we enjoyed being with them. In September a temporary communty member Adba Musharrifie arrived from Mexico. She added a Latin accent to our staff and practiced her English. She participated in volunteer activities and shared her culture especially the customs around the Day of the Dead with the volunteers.
In October student volunteers from Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska once again spent a week working with the SBP rebuilding project (formerly St. Bernard Project). They learned about Katrina and its aftermath, enjoyed a visit with Mardi Gras Indian David Montana, a tour of the St. Louis Cathedral. They watched the third Presidential debate with Duchesne House staff (providing a lively commentary!). They learned about wetlands restoration and of course had dinner one night in the French Quarter.
In October Duchesne House staff along with other RSCJ sisters in New Orleans attended a Black Lives Matter symposium at Xavier University. We learned more about the complicated legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws that are still poisoning relationships and unfairly targeting people of color in our country. A particularly moving presentation was the testimony of the mother of slain Michael Brown.
November brought us a group of young women from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha Nebraska. They also labored long and hard with the SBP rebuilding project. They were able to work on the “Sacred Heart House” a rebuilding for Ms. Cathy Rogers of her home that was partially financed by the Society of the Sacred Heart. They were able to meet her and hear her heartbreaking story of being out of her home (purchased only 3 years before Katrina) for 11 years. Of course they had time for the Cathedral and 9th ward tour, beignets at Café du Monde and dinner at Parkway Bakery. They enjoyed a tour of their sister school – the Rosary, Academy of the Sacred Heart here in New Orleans.
In December Santa Clara University made its first visit to Duchesne House for Volunteers. They also worked with the SBP rebuilding project. Of course they had time to learn about Katrina and its aftermath. They also sampled the local rich musical culture enjoying a free concert with renowned singer Irma Thomas and a Preservation Hall traditional jazz concert. They went on a tour of Whitney Plantation, a unique experience that teaches about plantation life from the viewpoint of enslaved people. That evening they were helped to debrief this intense experience with local activist and educator Denise Graves.