This past summer I went on The Rebuilding New Orleans trip offered by Rustic Pathways, and needless to say it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I was greeted by Haley and Linni (shoutout to the best group leaders!) at the airport and immediately comforted by their happy and relaxed manner. The base house was perfect and the bedrooms were comfortable. I traveled alone, meaning I didn’t know any other student that I’d be spending the next 13 days with. Not that I was worried, but if anyone is concerned about going on a trip like this because you think you won’t make friends, trust me, the bond you create with these people comes quick and lasts forever. I got to earn a great number of service hours while also learning and experiencing what the beautiful city of New Orleans has to offer. By watching a few videos and driving to certain spots, we all were able to learn plenty about Hurricane Katrina and its impact. Service activities include helping out at a community garden, helping at a food pantry, helping at a local school’s garden, and, of course, rebuilding a home for someone who lost theirs in the natural disaster. The days were long and rewarding, yet everyone’s positive spirits and smiles made time fly. We did plenty of other things, such as going to multiple fantastic jazz shows, walking around the French Quarter, and seeing the Mississippi River. One memory that sticks out to me was when the group was split in two and in charge of dinner. We had some money to go to the infamous Circle Food Store and get supplies. That group activity, which included sharing the kitchen trying to make two different meals for the group, was so much fun (my group’s pancakes won!). Another great memory was when one of my new friend’s and I were walking in the French Market and stumbled upon a man that paints beautiful artwork by using things like animals and buildings to create our name. Both of us got one (not expensive at all) and we both cherish how beautiful and how quickly he made them. From free time playing Uno or watching a movie, each day was filled with plenty of great activities and surprises. We even walked around Tulane University one day! Meals at the park, the airboat tour on the swamp, I mean I could go on and on about all the great things we did. I definitely recommend this trip, especially if you prefer to stay in the United States. You won’t necessarily get the culture shock that I got in previous trips to Peru and Costa Rica, but you absolutely will have a great time in a new city, nonetheless. Rustic Pathways is a great company that does great things and I can’t wait for Fiji next year!