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Rebuilding New Orleans
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Rebuilding New Orleans

Overall Rating

1/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    1

  • Program Administration

    1

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Community Engagement

    5

  • Health & Safety

    2

  • Day to Day Life

    1

Never Again

I was extremely unhappy with the New Orleans program for several reasons.

First, my daughter was supposed to be in New Orleans. Instead, the kids in her program stayed in New Orleans and were driven 1.5-2 hours EACH WAY to work in Baton Rouge each day. If they had told me that, I would not have signed her up for the program. That is misrepresentation and it is unacceptable. She did not need to sit in a car for up to 4 hours every day, on top of driving places at night.

Second, the students did not have nearly enough sleep. On top of having to get up at 6 am every day (probably to drive to Baton Rouge), the Rustic Pathways people dragged the kids all over the place at night so they could see New Orleans. The students were sleep deprived. After hearing from my daughter about how exhausted she was, I emailed the program leader, complaining about the lack of sleep. She said that the kids were back at the house by 10 pm every night, which is too late on a regular basis. The kids needed to wind down, get ready for bed and go to bed. That takes time. And then get up at 6 am again – day after day. That is too much and the kids were exhausted. And then they had to get up at 5 am one morning to drive to the airport (see the paragraph below) when they were already dragging from the lack of sleep. The kids had no choice but to go everywhere, whether they wanted to or not, and they were out too late. My daughter started getting sick, and one of the Rustic Pathways reps became sick – I’m sure because of sleep deprivation. It’s one thing to do that for 3-4 days, but not for 2 weeks.

Third, one morning when the kids were already exhausted, everyone in the program had to leave the house at 6 am (and get up at 5 am) to take one of the students to the airport. That is unbelievably poor planning. Why in the world did every single participant need to leave the house at 6 am to take 1 participant to the airport? My daughter emailed me after 11 pm the night before since they were ‘required’ to go to yet another evening event, and she had to get up at 5 am. I cannot tell you how angry I was. I had already emailed the program director about the lack of sleep, and then this.

My daughter has traveled extensively, and attended college programs for the pasts few summers, yet she hated this experience. If she did not need it for school, I would have picked her up after the first few days. She was not alone. Most of the kids felt the same way and it wasn’t because of the work – my daughter enjoyed the building part of it. It was zero choice with activities, way too much driving for no reason other than poor planning, too many activities and sleep deprivation. After I spent thousands of dollars for the program and even more importantly, taking 2 weeks of my daughter’s summer. Never again.