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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

InterVarsity Students Work With ServeUP in New Orleans


Students from schools around the U.S., 16 from UMass Boston, spent their spring break helping the reconstruction of New Orleans which is still struggling from Katrina.



During spring break, UMass Boston’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship joined with groups from several other schools in New England to participate in Serve Urban Plunge New Orleans (ServeUP). ServeUP is an annual trip made by the New England InterVarsity Global Service to New Orleans that started after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

This marked the fourth time UMass Boston students participated in ServeUp, formerly known as Katrina Relief Urban Plunge.  

Almost eight years ago, Hurricane Katrina put 81 percent of New Orleans underwater, caused 1,800 deaths in the region, and left behind $75 billion in destruction. The recovery process in New Orleans has been slow.

“While you are here, let yourself be upset by what is upsetting,” said InterVarsity Program Director Alexandra Nesbeda. “We are called into action to serve and come face to face with the brokenness and injustice of the world.”

Nesbeda invited participants to make themselves vulnerable, to feel the hunger and the needs of those who have been left behind and neglected in the New Orleans community.

UMass students used their spring break to help the people of New Orleans, learn about the complex issues around the recovery, and learn how to pursue justice and service in their own lives. Each evening, there were group discussions and guest speakers who talked about the intersection of Christian faith and service, justice and community.

Marie Clark, a staff worker for Intervarsity, said that she “hopes students will carry that eagerness and passion for service and social justice on the UMass Boston campus and in their own community.”

Participants rebuilt homes in the Ninth Ward with Habitat for Humanity and St. Bernard’s Project, which create solutions for families in need of safe, affordable housing.

This year, InterVarsity students did some farmwork with a new organization, Our School at Blair’s Grocery, in the lower Ninth Ward. The school focuses on food sustainability for the residents of the neighborhood. There are less than a dozen students attending Our School at Blair’s Grocery. Most of them are young men who dropped out of high school, coming from backgrounds of entrenched poverty, crime, or dysfunctional family life.

Nat Turner, the founder of Our School at Blair’s Grocery, explained that the project is a test as to whether agriculture can be an effective tool of self-empowerment for black youths.

“This is an embattled situation,” he said. Turner then thanked the UMass Boston students who volunteered.