Cubs return to New Orleans for annual community service project

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By Jordan Lee

Thirty students participated in the annual New Orleans Summer Immersion trip, led by Assistant Director of Admissions Matthew Baham, mathematics teacher Paul Pascale ‘78 and social science teacher Levi Line from June 10-17 to repair and rebuild houses devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Throughout the week, students experienced the culture of New Orleans by eating traditional Cajun food, going on a swamp tour and touring the National World War II Museum.

Pascale has been a part of the immersion trip five times in the past four summers and believes its purpose is for the Cubs to engage themselves in a completely new culture and serve the New Orleans community.

“[I believe] the purpose is two-fold. Its primary purpose is to give Loyola students a unique opportunity to complete their service hours. The other purpose is to show the students another part of the country and to experience that culture and those people,” Pascale said.

Line had been to New Orleans previously; however, this past summer was the first time he had been on an organized trip to the city.

“Moderating this event was one of the most eye-opening experiences in my life,” said Line. “When I went back to New Orleans for the second time, I was surprised by how New Orleans was still in disrepair after Hurricane Katrina. Even though the city was still damaged, people were livened up by their culture, and we were able to experience it with them.”

After the students toured New Orleans, the Cubs joined forces with the St. Bernard Project to build houses by priming, painting, drywalling and installing air conditioning systems. After the students and moderators worked on the houses each day, they reflected on what they saw and shared insights they gained through the project.

“I’m really glad that I went because I got to meet Loyola students that I hadn’t known before,” senior George Borkovich said.  “The service was like nothing I had ever done before.  It was one of the most rigorous service [projects]that I’ve done.”

Similarly, junior Alexander Kang said, “The type of work we did was very hard and physically exhausting alongside the hot and humid weather; but in the end, it was all worth it. We got to meet the family who used to live in the house before the hurricane.”

“First and foremost, what stands out the most is the generosity of the Loyola students,” Pascale said. “They do a fantastic job with the tasks before them.”

Students who are interested in joining the 2017 New Orleans Summer Immersion trip can see Baham in the admissions office in Loyola Hall for more information.

Line said, “I encourage students to sign up for this trip because it is not a trip where the students build houses all day; it is a trip where the students get to interact with another part of a country’s culture for a week and become a part of a larger community.”

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