"How does the study of a city's history affect decisions that move a city toward a sustainable future?"
Mr. Hunter, one of my teachers at Country Day and one of the primary planners of this program, never fails to remind us all of the importance of history. He consistently urges us to delve beneath the surface of history, to ask the hard questions and demand the not always simple answers; moreover, this reminder essentially reiterates the importance of asking why as opposed to falling into the ease of memorizing lists of facts and dates. Like Mr. Hunter, I believe that without studying and learning from history, we would know nothing about the past, or why things happened, or even what may lie ahead in the future. The common saying "history repeats itself" holds true in many situations, so in order for civilizations to thrive and grow, it's imperative that we learn from the past so were are able to effectively "predict" it and/or prepare for it. In order for New Orleans to have a 'sustainable future', we must ask the same whys and demand the same complicated answers with hope to understand what really happened in the past, and most importantly, how we can prepare ourselves for a successful future. It's this progressive action, as opposed to passive idleness, that will differentiate those in New Orleans as people who "ask" instead of people who "memorize".
When faced with the statement, "At one time or another, we are all immigrants," one begins to reflect deeply on their past. I for one never considered my family to being anything but New Orleanian, besides when the thought provoking Ancestry.com commercials come on my television. New Orleans is often called "the melting pot" of the United States, and I think this nickname stems strongly from the surplus of immigrants from the past. Without the different cultures, ideas, and customs that immigrants from other countries brought, New Orleans wouldn't be, well, New Orleans. The French Quarter wouldn't have evident Spanish AND French influences, and essentially, the structure and uniqueness that makes New Orleans the incredible city that it is would be far different from present day. I think this ties in with the over-arching theme of change, as although New Orleans has changed considerably over time, influence and culture has still prevailed. So, the fact that my ancestors came from Ireland and had some impact to this amazing pot of culture, well, that's pretty awesome.
St. Louis Cathedral (circa 1935) + St. Louis Cathedral (circa 2014)
The THNOC photo blend app allows us to easily search through the French Quarter and find specific spots where photos from the past were taken. After one finds these specific spots, a picture from the same spot-present day time-can be taken, and then the two photos are blended together. The mash-up of these 2 photos from two incredibly different time periods symbolizes the similarities one can conclude when viewing from a broader perspective. I chose to take a picture of the inside of the Cathedral and conjoin it with the older photo of the outside in order to show that although the outside of the Cathedral has changed over time, the inside is still the same sacred place of Holy worship-just as it was in 1935. I think this shows that when one broadens the typical perspective, finding similarity and unity between two seemingly "polar opposites" becomes more tangible. The use of incredible technology, a concept I assume those living in 1935 never could have imagined, in order to unify these two time periods goes to show that a bridge can always be built, no matter how large the gap may be.
It's the love and passion we have for New Orleans that will cause a necessary shift towards progress in the future. I come from a large family which has provided a true sense of community within my own home. The importance of hard work and belief in your dreams have always been stressed by my parents, and both aspects have become core values within my life. This has tremendously influenced by work ethic towards academics and ultimately finding ways to further my education. By using this education and the passion I have for my city, I strongly believe I can achieve my dream of a better New Orleans. The New Orleans Scholars program seems like an ideal opportunity to achieve this dream; to use what I've learned in the classroom to help our community progress and keep our city's valuable culture alive. The chance to instill the sense of community, passion, and love I have for New Orleans in others is too rewarding to pass up.