Students to study in New Orleans

by Beacon Staff • October 5, 2005

Emerson became involved with the project when Dennis Kalob, a sociology professor at NEC and head of the New Orleans program, called the NEC Semester in New Orleans, spoke to Associate Professor of Organizational and Political Communication Gregory Payne's Argument and Advocacy class on Sept.,"In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Emerson College is partnering with New England College (NEC) to send a group of eight to 16 students to New Orleans for a service-study program next semester.

Emerson became involved with the project when Dennis Kalob, a sociology professor at NEC and head of the New Orleans program, called the NEC Semester in New Orleans, spoke to Associate Professor of Organizational and Political Communication Gregory Payne's Argument and Advocacy class on Sept. 27 about the opportunity for students to partake in the rebuilding effort.

"Students will live and learn and serve in New Orleans," Kalob said. "I'm a big believer in learning in non-traditional ways."

Students enrolled in the 11-week program will combine a 12-credit sociology-based course load with various service projects throughout the affected regions. The classes, entitled "New Orleans Culture and Society" and "Social Inequality and Social Action," will be taken at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Service projects include building homes with Habitat for Humanity, tutoring children who have been out of school because of the hurricane and lobbying local officials for fair and equal treatment of low-income families during the rebuilding effort.

"Social inequality is something I am very passionate about," Kalob said. "One of our goals is to make sure that big developers don't build malls where low-income families used to live."

Students will also work with the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice, a social advocacy organization at Loyola University, and Hope House, a local social service center. There, students will learn about the issues in New Orleans and share information about projects.

Kalob said students will be instructed firsthand on the socio-economic issues that follow a natural disaster.

"People are worried that the poor will no longer have a place in New Orleans," Kalob said. "They won't have a voice there, and as a sociologist, that worries me."

Jerome Lewis, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, said he was interested in joining the program because it will give students the opportunity to rebuild not only New Orleans' cultural atmosphere but also its social make-up.

"When people talk about New Orleans, they talk about the music and food," Lewis said. "But, poverty is such a problem in that area. It really caught my attention when Dennis said the main focus of the program would be dealing with those underlying social issues."

Kalob stressed the importance of understanding the many elements that compose Cajun culture, especially music. In addition to working in the New Orleans area, students will be able to participate in many of the region's jazz events.

Students will be housed in rooms at the New Orleans Staybridge Suites. Expenses are comparable to a semester at Emerson and there are various payment options available to students who wish to participate, Kalob said. No specific information was available from the Registrar's Office at press time.

Kalob said, "The experience you would have in New Orleans would be unlike any other-a story that you will always remember."

The program runs from Feb. 15 to May 8. The application deadline is Oct. 15, 2005. To request or submit applications, e-mail Dennis Kalob at dkalob@nec.edu. Kalob said there are no age or major requirements but any of those factors may be weighed if an overflow of applications occurs. For further information about the program, contact Kalob at (603) 428-2205.

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