It’s not always easy to get a feel for a city, especially one as multifaceted as New Orleans. With all of the focus on the raucous aspects of the French Quarter, it’s difficult to see the real NOLA. It hit me while doing laundry in the J&M Studios building (now a laundromat) that Ray Charles used in the early 1950’s to spark the beginnings of rock and roll … New Orleans is of critical importance to the cultural and musical history.

When I first learned that I was chosen by Berklee to participate in the 2015 Gracenotes Habitat for Humanity trip, I was curious to see how the experience would change me … having lived in Virginia prior to moving to Boston, historical battlefields and national monuments were familiar backdrops. Now, having come to New Orleans as part of the Habitat for Humanity rebuilding effort, I can see where our efforts are as important to preserve the spirit and people that surround this key cultural landmark.

Despite being tired and sore from our second day at the Habitat for Humanity site, last night I explored Louis Armstrong Park, where live jazz music and delicious food aromas wafted through the air. I couldn’t help but pause and take a picture of the park at night.

Louis Armstrong Park at night

As a staff member at Berklee College of Music, I feel grateful for the opportunity, to travel to this extraordinary place, work together with other faculty and staff to affect positive change, and say that I’m beginning to know this city.  -Andrew