Friday, October 17, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Ursuline Academy, Brazil


The St. Bernard Project recently welcomed eight international high school students to New Orleans. These students are traveling from Ilheus, Brazil, located on the South Atlantic shore. Their school, named Colegio Nossa Senhora da Piedade, is part of a larger association of Roman Catholic education institutions. With schools worldwide, Ursuline students are encouraged to be global citizens. We have been lucky enough to have other groups from Ursuline schools in London,and locally, join us in service during past years.

The students are touring major US cities, their last stop being St. Louis Missouri, where they served at an elementary school in an underserved community. There, they taught other youths about art and helped out with projects at the school. When deciding to spend time in Louisiana, trip organizers from the Brazil school reached out to their sister school here in NOLA looking for a place to conduct a service project. Sister Regina Marie (pictured far right), a previous staff member at the New Orleans Ursuline Academy is a long-time supporter of SBP and sent them our way.

This group of students and chaperones spent two days rebuilding Ms. Elaine’s Katrina damaged home. As this house is entering its final stages of construction, students performed a variety of tasks including: painting interior doors, trim and the exterior of the house. The students came to a mutual agreement that their favorite task on site was caulking, to which their site supervisor, Bridgett, praised them: “It took me two months to learn how to caulk properly, and these guys are practically pros on their first try!” she beamed.

When asked what they would tell future volunteers, a young woman spoke out saying, they should volunteer because it’s an incredible experience and continued to elaborate on the impact she feels helping somebody who lost their home. Another student simply said “rewarding” upon which everyone else agreed. Finally, a chaperone and mentor to the group left the group thinking when she said, “These people lost their homes, and you are giving it back to them with your time and service.” And when asked how it felt to do just this, the group responded saying, “It feels good.”

The students also spoke out passionately about SERVIAM, their school motto, which translates into “I will serve.” This goes to show that everyone, no matter how far from home they are, is hardwired to help.

Thanks for all your hard work Ursuline Academy -- we look forward to future trips!

To volunteer with the St. Bernard Project visit:

Written by: Rachel Emerson

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