Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: #BerkleeNOLA


Reflections on New Orleans

The devastation New Orleans went through during the hurricane in itself is hard to wrap your mind around, but going there and see with your own eyes the work that is still needed is truly heartbreaking.

Often when disasters happen around the world you have a deep sense of not being able to help out more. So to be able to volunteer and together with my awesome colleagues – people I am happy to be able to now call my friends, was such a rewarding experience.

It was very apparent that the 8 of us are very different personalities, but just as apparent that it didn’t matter, but only made it even more inspiring and interesting to work with one another. No matter the task and whom you were working with it was all about teamwork and how to best get the job done.

As I’m writing this blog I was reading through the blogs written by my new friends, and can only nod in agreement. Agreeing that you might leave a small mark of accomplishments with the work we did on the houses while there, but you carry with you a huge bag of memories and impressions that forever will be with you. Friendships that forever has being formed. Enjoyed the vibrant culture of New Orleans with all the music that thankfully still happening there.

The heat exhaustion and stomach bug I caught while there are minor issues that will quickly fade away. But the memories, the friendships, the sense of accomplishments will forever stay with me, and I’m very thankful to have been chosen to be part of this project.

It’s been a week since we had our last day at the site, working on the two houses in New Orleans, and it has been 10 years Berklee’s Gracenote program has been going to New Orleans working with Habitat for Humanity helping in the aftermath of Katrina. However our work is not done there, they still need our help and I truly hope that Berklee will continue to send faculty and staff to work with and help the people of New Orleans.

Gracenotes 10th NOLA Habitat Sponsorship

We arrived in NOLA to embark on our 10th trip to the city for our Gracenotes Habitat for Humanity Sponsorship.  I am eager to see the progress since the first time I was down here in 2013 when arrived in this vibrant city to help build homes.  We have a great group of volunteers this year with a group of 5 staff and 3 faculty.

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Return to NOLA

I’ve been riding this marvelous de ja vu since arriving here in New Orleans two days ago with our 2015 sponsorship group. Five years ago I stepped off a plane with six Berklee colleagues and strangers as a participant in the 2010 group. This year I feel fortunate to come back with seven new colleagues to lead the group and share all the wonders of this beautiful city.

Sue Buzzard Serenades Us & the Mighty Mississippi

Ain’t Misbehavin on the Mississippi banks performed by Sue Buzzard

Ashley Macchia (faculty development), Jessica Halton (Institutional Advancement), Andrew Crawford (IT), Sue Buzzard (Berklee Online), Ruthie Ristich (Ear Training, faculty), Jordan Lockaby (Admissions),  Julia Polanco (IT) and I landed in NOLA on Monday afternoon, and settled into the Best Western French Quarter hotel. First few items on our agenda? Immerse and explore! I’m happy to say we have accomplished both with incredible Nawlins’ style dinners at Oceana in the French Quarter (Monday) and Jacques-Imo’s (Tuesday). We strolled through beautiful Jackson Square, gorged ourselves on coffee and beignet’s at Cafe du Monde and strolled along the Mississippi. Sue took out her violin and entertained us with her rendition “Ain’t Misbehavin’ while we tried to catch a breeze from the water. The humidity in NOLA is no joke and we found ourselves taking a quick “shower” in the fountains outside the Aquarium of the Americas.

Cafe du Monde heaven

Jordan, Ashly, Julia, Andrew, Sue and Laurie

Cooling off in the Fountains

Laurie, Andrew, Jordan fresh from the fountains            Today will be our first day on the construction site with Habitat for Humanity. I’m looking forward to reporting back!






A Taste of NOLA-Day One (5.12.14)

NOLA 2014 – Thank You Berklee!

So far in New Orleans the weather is fantastic, and there’s music every where. The group is genuinely jovial and excited to be here. We walked through Louis Armstrong park and were grateful to see something so historic. Berklee is giving all of us an amazing experience! To work on a Habitat site that will benefit the lives of people who may not have this opportunity otherwise is so very rewarding to all of us. “The hotel staff already thanked us for our service for an area that really needs help.” -Erin  

As we went around the city and people asked us where we are from, we heard the same thing multiple times, thank you so much for your service. I recently read an article that says when you are kind to someone it releases serotonin in that person, it also releases serotonin in yourself, and anyone who witnesses the act of kindness also releases it. What an amazing thing we can do for each other.

On a side note, I had two amazing celebrity experiences recently, thanks to Berklee.

First, after the commencement ceremony I removed Jimmy Pages’ ceremony robes (that might sound strange but they are rather elaborate to get into). As I was doing this, he noticed my snare drum and sticks tattoo and asked if I was a drummer. “Of course”, I said, “I’m a rock ‘n roller just like John Bonham.” We talked for two to three minutes about John. After the conversation was over I was in such awe that I don’t even remember what he said! Wow!

Second, after we left dinner last night in the French Quarter we walked past an open air bar, and I just happened to glance through the place and who do I see in New Orleans standing at the bar? Dave Grohl! Another one of my favorite rockers. I immediately took my picture with him and then couldn’t say anything else. I am a huge fan and my mind went blank, again. That’s ok, I am so truly grateful for both of these experiences! Thanks for reading this, stayed tuned for more updates from the team. -Sara T (trip leader and celebrity magnet) ha!

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