Mar 21, 2010

“Voluntourism” Serving New Orleans

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By Jenn Hair

Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, was catastrophic for the people of the city, and with business and tourism down, the city has faced an uphill struggle to recovery. Many organizations outside the Big Easy have offered to help, including businesses, churches and colleges. Photojournalist Jenn Hair spent a day with student volunteers from Marquette University in Milwaukee and City Year, a national service organization that assigns volunteers for a year. Marquette students formed a service organization called Mardi Gras that has sent more than 500 students to the Gulf Coast since 2006.

They worked to restore and beautify Carver High School, which stands in the badly damaged Ninth Ward. Carver High accepts students from across New Orleans, but classes are still being held in trailers nearly five years after the storm. This is the story of volunteers spending their vacations hoping to help people they’ve never met.