Becoming in tune with the diverse culture in New Orleans

Professor Jack Sullivan and students traveled to New Orleans where they experienced the unique culture, music and food of the city.

By Matthew Esposito

As I stepped off of United Flight 1846 and walked out the doors of Newark Airport on Jan 12, I was greeted with a blast of cold, sharp wind to my face.

Coming back from the humid, electrifying air of New Orleans, I was posed the question, “How was the trip?” by all my close friends and family. As simple as this question was, I struggled with how to condense what was a whirlwind experience into a few sentences. I couldn’t find the right words to explain the infatuation that I felt with the city and the incredible agenda that put me in a state of euphoria for a week.

After reflecting upon the enchantment I felt from visiting historical locations and learning the unique heritage, I was finally able to create a concise statement that captured the essence of what my feelings were to be in that magical city.

Whenever someone asks me how the trip was, I simply state, “I completely and utterly fell in love with the culture of New Orleans.”

One of my favorite aspects of the city’s atmosphere is the consistent zestful sounds of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, fiddles and more. Whenever I stepped into the streets, I was engulfed by the lively music.

In an age where a 16-year-old can produce a hit song with artificial instruments on a desktop, or a venue can push play on a laptop and call it live music, it was refreshing to be surrounded with authenticity. I loved how I could walk anywhere at any time of the day, from a dive bar to a credible jazz club to even just a street corner, and find flocks of people dancing to the spirited music.

Without a care in the world of who was watching and judging, the locals and tourists united in rhythm and lived in the moment, whether they can stay on the beat or not. I have to admit, I am not a big dancer, but when I saw everyone in the streets and clubs having the time of their lives, I decided to take my back off the wall the first night and get out on the dance floor. I put myself out there into the incredible atmosphere, and that was the best decision that I made all week.

The musical culture of New Orleans was completely different than what I was used to.

Growing up, I was heavily influenced by popular music. This trip marked my first exposure to music that is not on my every-day playlist, and I was enlightened. I thoroughly enjoyed all the harmonious sounds and bands.

I love how New Orleanians can go to any location and dance to these older styles of music. The sounds are not just the common hip-hop tracks that are played at every club in the Northeast. The music is the center theme that makes New Orleans so iconic. From jazz to blues, music unites the people there. We were simply guests who were fortunate enough to have some exposure to the city, but all I want to do now is recreate the atmosphere that I grew so fond of while I was there.

Being with so many different Rider students on the trip made the experience even more memorable. We gained an appreciation for a different culture and now share a true bond based on all the events we went to.

I would like to thank Sullivan for organizing this trip. I was able to gain a true and honest respect for this city and its culture, and a new type of music. For all of this, I am extremely grateful and am counting the days until I can go back.


Printed in the 1/31/18 edition.

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