NOLA Accepts You
When I signed up for place-based storytelling, I thought I was signing up for some regular class where we would learn how to tell stories about New Orleans. I assumed we would write some stories and film them and that would be it. What I didn’t expect was that I would learn so much about this great city along the way. The first thing I learned was about the harsh realities of education in the greater New Orleans area. By going to schools in the Treme and seeing what it is like down here I have gotten a better appreciation for the difficulties that both students and teachers face in their daily lives. In the school I went to, any student who talked back to a teacher was usually sent to the vice principal’s office and dealt with there. In these schools, that would be impossible, because most of the class talks back to the teacher. The first time I saw this happening I was somewhat bewildered; their system of demerits still confuses me. The second thing I learned is that which NOLA values most. I think every city can be defined by whatever it is that its people seem to value most. Here in New Orleans, that value seems to be finding who you really are. People in NOLA seem to admire almost any trait in a person, so long as that trait is a reflection of who the person really is. I believe this general acceptance is what captures part of the spirit of NOLA. The other part of that spirit, and the third thing I learned, is the true essence of New Orleans. Many people (tourists mostly) think that alcohol is the essence of New Orleans. This is wrong; the essence is not a substance. Others think the essence is about partying. This is wrong as well; the essence is not about a single activity. Still others think that music is the essence of NOLA. This too is wrong; the essence cannot be captured in one medium. The true essence of New Orleans is being who you are (see #2) and having fun. NOLA doesn’t care if you drink at The Boot, party in your friend’s shotgun house, or go listen to jazz on Frenchmen Street; so long as you are having fun as yourself, NOLA accepts you.
By Ethan Gordon