January 22, 2018 – Trenton, NJ. The College of New Jersey recently welcomed back the TCNJ Bonner Community Scholars Class of 2021 as they and their chaperones returned from the annual New Orleans First Year Bonner Service Trip. During the week-long trip, students volunteered at the Saint Bernards Project, helping to construct two residential homes in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward. While at the build sites, students gained skills in interior construction, focusing on mudding, sanding, and installation of drywall. While away from the site, students had the opportunity to create lasting friendships, explore New Orleans, reflect, and brave the historic cold weather that gripped the city mid-week (frozen water pipes and all).
Students only had positive things to say about their week long experience:
“This week has been so incredible. Realizing that people will hang their family photos on the same walls that we were mudding is such an incredible feeling. I can’t wait to see pictures of the house when it’s finished and see when people are going to live there.”
“First day of service on the second day of Nola on MLK day, 2018. If only I could tell you what JOY today brought me. What empowerment, fulfillment, and satisfaction it granted me. From the moment I woke up today to now, laying in my tiny bunk in my tiny room in the tiny dorm I share with 15 people, I have been in the highest spirits.”
“After a day of getting to know not only the beautiful streets of the French Quarter but also the culture as a whole, I was anxious to start service. I wanted to just get to site so that I knew what to expect for the upcoming days. What I didn’t expect, however, was to fall in love with what we were doing. Not only did I enjoy seeing progress in what was soon to be someone’s brand new home, but I was also able to challenge myself in ways I never imagined. I learned how to properly sand down the walls and ceilings and also how to paper tape and mud. I had gained new skills that I could most definitely use again in the future.”