It has been almost nine years since Hurricane Katrina hit the city, and since this was my first visit to New Orleans, I have no before and after comparison. But I found myself wondering about the on-going construction, the pot-holed streets, and the easily-flooded sidewalks - wondering if these were still the after-effects of the incredible disaster. New Orleans is a great city full of southern charm, history, music, and great restaurants, and I wish I could have seen it in its heyday.
All of the local people I came in contact with were friendly and helpful. Although New Orleans suffered greatly from Katrina, I can’t help but think that the courage of the residents in facing insurmountable odds, along with a fierce determination, have been a driving force in the rebuilding efforts. The people are proud of their city, and have worked hard to bring it back. I saw it in the smiles and good wishes from the hotel staff and in the conversation with cab drivers. One young cabbie was a college student studying political science with goals to continue his studies and obtain a master’s degree. I was happy to read that since Katrina, the city’s program of establishing public charter schools has helped students improve in levels of achievement and independence.
I know there is still much to be done, but I believe the city will continue to grow. In the meantime, thank you New Orleans for providing a wonderful destination for a great conference.