Special Topics in Counseling: Cross-Cultural Counseling (New Orleans)
Photos and Captions by Angela Grant
During my Spring Break, I traveled to New Orleans with Professor Ron Esposito and 30 other graduate students to study Cross-Cultural Counseling. As part of our class we conducted 32 intensive case study interviews with a very diverse population of Hurricane Katrina survivors, from the working poor in Treme and the 9th Ward to business owners, hotel workers, college students, university administrators, faculty, bus drivers, farmers and restaurant workers. With all of the pain and suffering experienced by the New Orleans residents, they still demonstrated and continue to demonstrate tremendous resiliency and strength in bouncing back from this horrific tragedy. This was a central theme in most of our interviews. This street sign and where it was located in the ninth ward, amidst all the destruction, spoke about the hope of the people to rebuild their homes and their lives.hope.
Save Our Parish
We attended a rally to save the historic St. Augustine Church– one of the oldest Catholic churches in the US established in 1841 as a historic place where slaves worshiped along side free people of color and New Orleanians of all races. This church was scheduled to close despite the fact that it has kept the neighborhood together and was very important to the entire community. While we were there, we volunteered in a food pantry in the church and we even painted some of the signs that were used in the rally. “Many Races, Many Colors” was very symbolic of our very diverse class in Cross-Cultural Counseling.
We were all very moved by this demonstration and how the entire community, young and old, turned out to support this Parish. Many well known musicians attended and there were film crews from all over the world including some people working on a film by Spike Lee. The man to the right sings [Ava Maria] very passionately as a 93 year old woman holds up her sign. Media cameras and microphones as well as members of the community stand around for this demonstration of loyalty. I was proud we were there and that we could participate, with the community, to try to save the Parish from closing.
Life Goes On
As part of our study in New Orleans, we spent eight days traveling around the city and throughout southern Louisiana, including a little known place called Port Sulphur, which is where the farming and fishing villages are located. We witnessed massive destruction of major orange groves, cattle farms and fishing villages where we get most of our shrimp and oysters. We also conducted some of our case studies in this area with a few local farmers who have remained. In the midst of all the destruction next to a house that is no longer on its foundation, in Port Sulphur, a flower bloomed. Even if no one else decides to rebuild, mother nature will always have a way of showing that she is still up for the challenge!
Water can be so destructive that it separates and divides. Yet, in spite of such destruction, water can also be calming and bring people, like this father and son, together. The case studies we conducted through this course taught us, in such a unique way, how crucial listening is to the counseling process. It was so important and therapeutic for each person to be able to tell their own story of their Katrina experiences to someone who listened and cared. Each wanted to be heard -- from the cattle farmer who is rebuilding her herd, and the hotel housekeeper who was rescued from her roof, to the college vice president who fears for the future of her campus. Together, their stories created an incredible portrait of devastation and renewal, loss and hope, grief and faith – stories that I know all of us who participated in this course will never forget.