I volunteer as the Student Area Coordinator for Amnesty International’s Minnesota student-based chapters. As the newest members of the Minnesota leadership team, but a long-time supporter of Amnesty International, I was invited by my field director to attend Amnesty International-USA’s Annual General Meeting. The event was four days long and would be the first time i had ever traveled alone. In my non-Amnesty life, I work as a reporter in the free press and as a racial equity community organizer, so I have done much studying & learning about the various problems plaguing Louisiana, long before Hurricane Katrina or the man-made disaster that followed. I was not sure what to expect from the AGM, but i did know that I would need to be prepared to learn as much as I could and grab as many resources as I could that my students would need here in Minnesota. But the trip was much more than that, before I even entered my hotel room, I had participated in a rally on city hall chanting “Health Care is a Human Right” and had heard the brilliant Bernice Johnson Reagan speak (twice!). Aside from the many workshops, panel discussions, speeches, and the tribute to the late Howard Zinn, I also walked the French Quarter from my hotel and through the jazz festival. In fact, I had been overjoyed to learn that there would be a a Jazz Festival just down the street from my hotel while I was there.
I think what really stuck with me though was the resilience of the people of New Orleans. There sense of humor & life in the face of disaster was incredible to see and something I learned from. I’ve done much traveling in my life to Jordan & Syria in the Middle East, France, many states including California for example, but it was New Orleans that amazed me most. It reminded me of the best of France & Chicago, with just a little Jordanian mixed in for good measure. And despite having trouble leaving the likes of France & Arizona, it was New Orleans that has me seriously considering moving there. They have a strong support system in community organizing & free press and I know that it is a place I would thrive.
New Orleans, both the city & the conference, will always remain with me as two of the greatest experiences of my life. I’m honored AI-USA chose to bring me down for this trip and I’m honored that I was in the company and spent time with such amazing residents of New Orleans.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.