Hey y’all. When you inevitably decide to come to Tufts because it’s the coolest place ever, you should take the following class: CD143 Special Topics: NOLA mission, taught by Chip Gidney. It has so far proven to be the most amazing class I have taken in my two years here.
The specific theme of the course changes every spring, but it always culminates in a spring break trip to New Orleans, to work in local schools. Although housed in the child development department, and listed as a 100 level course, it attracts a large range of different students. A small group this year, I became very close with a senior French major/linguistics minor from Puerto Rico, two junior biology majors, one who works with TEMS, and the other who aspires to be a genetic counselor, a sophomore child development major with a killer Irish accent, and an undecided freshman on the track team. So this class is literally for everyone.
The theme this year was latino immigrants in New Orleans Schools. After Katrina, New Orleans needed to be rebuilt, and thus came an influx of south and central American workers, bringing along their families. We read articles and books, had meetings with experts, all designed our own project proposals based on problems we had read about, and ultimately created four projects to enact during our week in New Orleans. We created a nutrition curriculum for K-2 graders, helping to teach healthy eating habits to a population that is very much plagued with poor diets and nutrition awareness. We put together a college workshop for 8th graders, designed to showcase all the options to a population that is not used to the idea of college. We performed a professional development workshop, to educate teachers on up to date research and ways to work with children who’s first language is not English. Finally, we documented it all in a soon to be produced multimedia project called LatiNOLA.
Our week down in New Orleans was the best imaginable spring break. Playing with preschoolers all morning, working with elementary and middle schoolers in the afternoons, touring New Orleans, conducting interviews, eating the most DELICIOUS food – it was a blast. You could go your whole Tufts career in a lecture hall, taking notes and studying for tests, but if you look a little deeper you will find these absolute gems. I truly believe I have learned more, be it practical, academic, or just about myself, in this class than in any I’ve taken before. So take it, y’all.
P.S. If you are looking for more reasons to come to Tufts, stay tuned for my next two posts: “How I created my own major” and “I’m Ghana be going abroad next fall”