Place-based Story Telling was a rewarding experience because it gave me the
chance to connect to classmates in a way I hadn’t before. I transferred to Tulane
during my Sophomore year of college because I was determined to move to New
Orleans. Tulane was the only application I sent in, and if I wasn’t accepted I was
going to move to New Orleans any how.
Even though I got in, Tulane always seemed like an after thought to me. As
soon as I moved into my off-campus apartment I was focused on exploring New
Orleans and making connections to people in the city’s community. I went to class,
but felt alienated from a student body I perceived as ensconcing themselves in a
geographical bubble and homogenous social environment. I felt the dominant
Tulane student culture focused on avoiding the larger New Orleans community, and
New Orleans’ racial, cultural, social, and political landscape that renders it such a
rich and complex place.
In many ways, I still think this about Tulane’s administrative and dominant
social frameworks, and want to change so much about the school. However, taking
Place-Based Story Telling this fall semester forced me to realize that there are an
overwhelming number of students who want connect to New Orleans and carve out
a new space in the social scene.
Exploring the city, trying, failing, growing, and bonding with a complex and
amazing group of classmates was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
In the process, I have realized the negative assumptions I made about my Tulane
peers and a supposition of superior knowledge about the city were based on my
I have learned to appreciate that my fellow students are dealing with the
same obstacles I am, and that we all have much to learn about the city that so
generously allows us to be here. Tulane does not always make being here easy.
However, we as Tulane students can work together in embarking our difficult and
perhaps most essential journey during our remaining time: to understand and give
back to the city, as well as each other.
By Galia Binder