Rebuilding New Orleans: Wheelock Service Learning Program


Rebuilding New Orleans: Wheelock Service Learning Program

A Ten-Year Commitment

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Wheelock College made a ten-year commitment to New Orleans through the service-learning program. As a result of an initial trip to New Orleans, Professor Bobbi Rosenquest, with the help of her students, developed a semester-long course that culminates in a week of volunteer service in New Orleans.

“The thinking behind this experience is that New Orleans was devastated and we learned very explicitly the effect that had on children and families,” says Wheelock Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education Bobbi Rosenquest, who organized the first New Orleans Service Learning trip a decade ago. “And students were captivated by the stories of children…who had lost their homes, lost their families, and lost their homes….Together, we wrote the syllabus for a brand new course called Civic Issues, Skills, and Engagement.”

Building Homes and Community

During the New Orleans trip, students live at a volunteer camp and each morning work at sites to rebuild homes, often side by side with families who have lost them. Students integrate their community experience with a research project where they interview local residents and civic leaders to learn about social issues and corresponding public policies impacting families, how organizations respond to community need, and how to sustain a vibrant culture that values diversity.

“When you leave New Orleans, you just have a feeling that you need to go back,” says Wheelock student Kristina Pavone ’14, who has been on several Wheelock-sponsored service learning trips to the city. “The city hooks you.”

Watch and learn more about how Wheelock College students are rebuilding New Orleans.