ReNEW Accelerated Service Trip: Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum

Once again, our own Eliza Fields checks in from her post at ReNEW Accelerated High School with some recent news…

Although this was my last service trip with ReNEW Accelerated High School, it left a great impression with me! Literally, the best trip was saved for last!

As I was scrambling to find service projects for June, my friend Becca—a spoken word artist and curator of the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum—offered to host a service project at her museum. Given that a large percentage of our students are from the Lower Ninth, it made perfect sense to do a service project there!

Becca was very kind and planned a great informational tour and service project for our official RAHS service crew which included myself, Ms. White and a band of eight students.

I was quite impressed by the rich history of the Lower Ninth. The museum showcases a wide array of photographs and videos which give a visual timeline of the Lower Ninth Ward from the 1800s to the present.

What I admired most about the L9 museum was the open and interactive environment.

Our RAHStas were very engaged in learning about the Lower Ninth, its well-known celebrities in music and art, its greatest accomplishments, the dramatic change it underwent as a result of Hurricane Katrina and its political and social aftermath.

The more exciting venture came around lunchtime—when a Xinhua News Agency crew from Washington D.C. came to visit the museum.

in the midst of their arrival, the students and I started to work on our service project for the day, which included beautifying the entrance with the museum’s name, painting its porch railings and foundation pillars. Our students, nervous to work with spray paint, still took up the challenge and painted words such as “Rebirth,” “Remember,” and “L9VE” onto museum’s facade. Overall, our service day at the Living Museum was remarkable and I am grateful to Becca and her team for allowing us to serve there.

So, remember that news crew? They actually stayed at the museum and interviewed one of our teachers and students as part of their news story for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina.

One of our students, Lee Gardner, is from the Lower Ninth Ward and did an amazing job sharing her opinion and story with us during our tour of the Living Museum, and then later was gracious enough to talk with the Chinese news crew as well. Her interview was a true example of youth empowerment and revealed how the voice of youth is needed in New Orleans and in building the future of this city.