Friday, October 7, 2011

Board Meeting Reflections Part 3

Janine, the High Plains Student Representative, wrote a creative response to her experience at the Fall Board meeting. While she used this for class, it is also a great example of what you could submit for convention (more on that later). We really like Janine's references to the music of New Orleans -- something you almost take for granted while you're there, but that is so central to the energy of the city.

We hope you enjoy! --Allie and Kelsey

Janine Brooks
High Plains Student Representative, 2011-2012
University of Nebraska, Omaha

Reawakened, New Orleans’ Way

My feet, already exhausted from the never-ending tread across sidewalks made of roughly laid redbrick and fractured sections of weathered slate, are eager for something new to attract my attention that would require me to sit down. I am in the midst of a large group of student leaders from Sigma Tau Delta. We are wandering the streets of New Orleans in our efforts to find a trolley stop so we can see the Garden District.

As we near Charles Street, we stop to orient ourselves with where we are. Faintly, in the distance, the sound of Dixie beckons us forward to join in its excitement. One of the girls says, “Hey all, let’s go see what is going on!” Not one of us objects to the idea, so we all head in the direction of the noise.

“Oh when the saints go marching in, when the saints go marching in.”

The words, uplifting and refreshing, yank at my heartstrings. My body willfully stirs about bending occasionally at the knees, permitting the arms to wave freely, and granting the fingers permission to snap in response to the beat. Little left that my feet can do, so sore and tired, yet they dance forward in anticipation. I am eager to immerse myself into this culture—I wish to be caressed into the sweetness of all those trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and drums that are filling the air with their rhythmic romance.

The park, bulging beyond capacity with people, is vibrant in its multitude of colors. As we push our way through the crowds, a wild man suddenly emerges before us. Dressed fully from head to toe in minute seed beads of sanguine colors, his body sways back and forth in motion to the music. Upon his face is a magnificent mask made of hundreds of feathers dyed in shades of deep purple, blood red, and pitch black. Laughing, he looks at me as he invites me to join him in his dance. I shake my head: “No.” Afraid of being alone, I hurry away to catch up with the group who has already walked away.

“And when the sun refuse to shine, And when the sun refuse to shine.”

People pack themselves about the stage swaying to the song of the South; the sound seems to permeate their souls. A dark man, shirtless with streams of sweat rolling down his back, has thrown his spirit fully into the music. He flips himself forward and then backward through the air, in a variety of somersaults. He then throws his body to the ground as he squats in preparation for a giant leap straight up as high as he can go. The crowd roars and he lets the jazz move him further to repeat those same crazy steps.

Trudging forward with my friends, we stand in line to purchase something cold to drink at a margarita stand. While waiting for everyone, I look about at the variety of food and liquor stands, craft booths, and tarot reading stations. Above the stage is draped a white banner laced in black letters that says “Seafood Festival.”

Sadly, I walk away with my group while regretting the fact that time always pushes one forward, and never permits an individual to languish. That sweet Dixie sound draws a tear from my eye as I reluctantly leave the event. As I move further away from the park, I am drawn to a scene before me that leaves me the helpless witness; I cannot move. A somewhat squat figure, half-covered in cherry dreadlocks running down to the buttocks, seems preoccupied with something possibly sitting on a marble ledge.

A voice calls out to me: “Janine, hurry up. We all want to get on the trolley.”

I shake my head and walk forward towards the group ahead of me, but I keep my eyes on the oddity. And then I see the truth. It is not a creature of the night confused and walking about in the daylight, but rather a female clown who is face-painting a child’s face. Her deft fingers move quickly as she decorates the boy’s cheek with a handful of balloons. The boy grins as he awaits the finished product, his head tilted willingly to the right to permit the clown to do her magic.
A man stands next to the boy, a twinkle in his eyes as he patiently whistles: “Oh Lord, I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in.”

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