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Muma Reflects on New Orleans Service Trip

Senior Virgynia Muma

Senior Virgynia Muma

Jan. 27, 2014

Twenty two Boston College student-athletes traveled to New Orleans for the fifth annual Devlin S-AFE Service Immersion Trip to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Senior Virgynia Muma recounts her experience:

Christmas break has always been a time for students to recover from finals, spend time with family and friends, and just kick back and relax. However, this past Christmas break I was given an opportunity that was much better than the normal routine. I was fortunate enough to be chosen to travel to New Orleans, along with 21 other Boston College student-athletes, to volunteer for a week.

During the trip, we helped rebuild houses that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. As a group, we were divided between three homes that were all in different stages of renovation. One house was in a "demo" stage, the other in a mold prevention stage, and the last house involved completing the finishing touches. We all were able to rotate between the houses in order to experience the different phases of construction. We had the opportunity to practice various skills such as painting, tiling and installing dry wall.

As a group we also traveled to the Castle Academy to talk to middle school students about our experiences as student-athletes at BC. The children were very interested in hearing about the different sports, which was perfect because we had a variety of teams in our group. We also went to the Boys and Girls Club to help under-privileged children with their homework and play games with them. These children were extremely thankful to have us spend time with them. I spent the majority of my time there with a girl who taught me how to make a bracelet, and she even made me one. This is something that could be seen as a small gesture, but to me it's so much more because it puts a smile on my face whenever I look at it.

As college students, starting the day at 6 a.m. to perform strenuous work rarely sounds enjoyable. However, waking up every day knowing we were making a difference by rebuilding a community was rewarding enough to embrace the early morning wake-up calls.

On the first day, after we arrived in New Orleans, we drove around to observe the city. Even after nine years since Katrina, the city still has a long way to go in order to rebuild itself. I had no idea that the city was still in need of so much assistance until I saw it with my own eyes. The Ninth Ward, which was one of the worst areas that got hit by Katrina, is still so far from being considered a community. There are a number of empty, overgrown lots along with abandoned houses. This was something that was very eye opening and motivated me to wake up early and volunteer in anyway I could.

On the work site

This trip was an amazing experience and I wish I could do it again. We all felt the same passion to make a difference in any way possible. In addition to working on houses, we were also able to go sightseeing around New Orleans, which is a place a lot of us never have been. The people and the culture in New Orleans is amazing. I know things will never be the same as they were before Katrina, but the city definitely deserves to one day feel like they can call it home again.

I want to thank the Devlin S-AFE Program, [program chaperones] Evan Librizzi, Alison Quandt and Greg Sullivan and Boston College for giving us all this unforgettable opportunity. I will definitely suggest this trip to other student-athletes because I think it is important to spread the word that New Orleans is still struggling to rebuild itself, and every chance to volunteer or donate makes a difference.

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