Thursday, May 14, 2015

Volunteering with the New Orleans Community

On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, I joined a group of Tulane Fulbright Scholars to help assist New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, and AmeriCorps in New Orleans. We left the university at 7:00 AM and headed to America Street in New Orleans, where volunteers were already hard at work. NOAHH is planning a ten-day, ten-home blitz build this month in commemoration of the decennial anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and so our job was to help lay the foundations for some homes and prepare them for wall-raising.

Most of us didn't have any construction experience and some of us had never even held a hammer before. However, the AmeriCorps staff were very patient with us and immediately put us to work. With my friends from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Uzbekistan, we built walls, put together windows and hammered in so many nails. We learned terms such as “flush”, “plum” and “king jack”. I helped put in five porches in five different houses, after mastering the circular saw and the electric screwdriver. Even though I cut myself on power tools, sweated in 86-degree weather and got a spectacular sunburn, I enjoyed myself a lot and I was proud to know that I helped build a new home for someone in need. In the past year, I have been part of an incredible community and I loved to give back, even if just a little, to New Orleans. New Orleans is an amazing city, incredibly resilient, and I’m very proud to be part of the ongoing effort to rebuild the city that has become my home.

Tamam Tawk is a Lebanese Fulbrighter who is pursuing an LLM at Tulane University.

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