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Oct. 3rd, 2005 @ 11:01 pm let not the right hand know what the left is doing
So it looks like I might be going with a group of student Common Ground members to help rebuild New Orleans this fall break. Since their needs change every week, and the situation over there is in a constant state of flux, it really depends on whether or not they need me. If they need seven volunteers, we're sending seven volunteers. If they need zero, we don't go. The skillset I gave them suggests I'll probably be fixing computers or lifting crates or speaking to people in Chinese, but who knows what they might need me for. They want carpentry and first aid skills, which I do not have. We'll see how it goes.

The girl organizing the trip--really just a loose group of students and student organization representatives at this point--warned us that it will be forty hours a week of backbreaking heavy labor, and will be deeply traumatic. Every now and then, volunteers flip out and have to be sent home (which is a reason why they need us in the first place). One member of Common Ground was beaten by police and falsely detained on grounds of burglary and resisting arrest, and he was released the next day without charge. It is not going to be easy, physically or emotionally. That scared a bunch of people out of the room, but it holds a strange appeal for me. For this is no Michael Jackson bleeding heart fundraiser--there are enough handouts, enough emergency supplies. This is hardcore, brutal, hands-in-the-dirt relief work. We are teaching men to fish. We are reserve soldiers in a war against ourselves.

And I know it's selfish to think of it this way, but this may be a good opportunity for me to test how truly resistant I am to trauma.
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