Union College Volunteers

The last stop on the Union College Civil Rights Tour is New Orleans. Students and faculty from the New York school travel the American South and see historical landmarks, museums, and even people who were part of the history of civil rights in the United States. Whether it’s Sullivan’s Island in Charleston or Martin Luther King’s home and church, they engage with the past as part of a special three week term of school. In New Orleans, they see Congo Square, Jackson Square, and more, and for one day of their trip, they stop to volunteer with NOAHH.

Katie Cassado found herself on a Habitat site for the first time as part of the tour.

“I’m not that good with my hands, but I think it’s cool,” she said. “I think it’s nice that Habitat shows you how to do it because you’re able to show people who don’t normally get exposed to this stuff. Here we are actually building this house. It’s rewarding to see it built from foundation all the way up.”

According to her professor, the tour started including volunteering in New Orleans after the first few years because they wanted to do more. Because of the legacy of Hurricane Katrina, they felt the city was an appropriate spot to give back. According to Katie, she sees it as honoring the legacy of civil rights, as well. She is especially impressed by the sweat equity part of the Habitat program.

“I think the sweat equity is really cool, so even the people who are being helped out, they are willing ot help others, and they get to work on other people’s houses,” she said. “I think Habitat is a dope organization. We don’t have enough people doing good things just for the sake of it.”

On the tour, she saw local plantations and landmarks, but on her own, she set out to explore a little.

“I love walking cities, because I’m from New York,” she said. “I love that there’s all this funky music playing on every street corner. I’m sure New Orleans has its problems, but it’s nice to see the culture and the celebration and the life here. It’s just so much fun. New Orleans has been the most artistic city we’ve been to, seeing people on the corner selling their art. it’s beautiful art that matches the personality of the city.”