Fighting Poverty with Passion
For me, moving to New Orleans was not just about completing a VISTA year of service. My mother is from here and I have relatives who still live in the city. As a child I would go on summer trips to New Orleans, and even at 8 or 10 years old I could note the distinct culture of the city compared to my native California. Recalling these fond memories, I wanted to move here to get to know this side of my family better, and to see what it’s like to live here. Paired with the unique perspective of working with a young local non-profit, it has been fascinating to learn about where my family comes from, and to experience the city as an adult.
We talked briefly and he said he descended from the same person my mom had told me- Francisco Zerpa. During the rest of the day, I spoke to someone who knew my grandfather and had a mural of his in her office, looked at a display of pirogues labeled with my New Orleans family’s name (another distant cousin?), and talked to a woman about hunting alligators with her husband. From discovering a my family’s coming-over-on-a-boat-to-St.-Bernard story, to making plans to visit my grandfather’s mural in a French Quarter office, the day left me feeling connected to the region in new ways. Working with Puentes and being a part of the long term plans they have makes me feel excited and invested in the region’s future, but my experience with the Isleños allowed me to see myself in the regions history as well. -Christina Decker, AmeriCorps VISTA