A Look into the New Orleans Disaster Relief January Term
By Annika Henthorn
For what seemed like centuries, Saint Mary’s became a desolate reminder of what used to be, a symbol of everything we had before we lost it to COVID-19. As students inch their way back to normalcy, so are the programs being offered again. One of the hallmarks of Saint Mary’s, January Term or Jan Term, was always an awaited month for Saint Mary’s students. Students could explore all their interests and passions without the constraints of class schedules and requirements. For one month, students were able to delve into any interests they might have, whether that be cooking, Scifi, or martial arts. Saint Mary’s had it all. Unfortunately, during the transition to online learning, a lot of the magic of January Term was lost behind the screen. Interactions, connections, and a lot of what made Jan Term so exciting vanished as students became weary of Zoom.
However, the light at the end of this seemingly infinite tunnel seems to shine a little brighter as travel January Terms make a reappearance. The school has high hopes of returning to their usual January Term trips, whether that be to Greece, Italy, or even closer, New Orleans. Students have expressed great interest in applying for these opportunities.
Because of the pandemic, students have developed a newfound appreciation for traveling. As exciting as it is, these classes also have a deeper goal in mind, each varying with the class. For the New Orleans JanTerm, the purpose of the class is to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters. Students get an opportunity to collaborate with the local community and provide much-needed resources to aid in recovery. The focal point of the class is DIRT (dismantle, immerse, reflect, transform). These principles guide the class through challenging relaties and help understand the needs of the communities they are working with.
Although the school expects to assist New Orleans following a likely difficult hurricane season, the location remains open to assist communities of dire need locally or abroad. Students embarking on this January Term will participate in extensive training to prepare them for January and teach them about “conscientious collaboration.” Their responsibilities will include mostly manual labor like building and constructing to offset the damage inflicted upon that specific region. Jan Term is an exciting part of Saint Mary’s experience, but it can also be a rewarding one. This specific Jan Term course pushes students beyond their boundaries to work with local communities in finding solutions to disastrous problems. It provides students with an opportunity to deepen their experiences and offer a new perspective during college that many other courses might not be able to provide.
Melanie Moyer '22,