Unclogging drains, burning under the New Orleans sun, greeting every passerby in the streets of Louisiana, this was a week of service, of exploration, this was a week of love.
Through my Residential College at my university and through an organization called Common Ground, I've been lucky enough to be able to lend a helping hand in efforts to aid the remaining hurt of Hurricane Katrina. Seven years ago, I was in middle school in South Korea, probably stressing about my homework. Seven years ago, Katrina devastated the lower ninth ward and although the relief, through nationwide volunteering and alternative spring break trips such as the one I was a part of, has been ameliorated, seven years later, the area remains devastated.
This week wasn't about going to some place to get volunteer hours, to do labor to say I changed the world on my resume. This week engrained the fact that serving your community isn't so much an act, but a lifestyle. At the beginning of the adventure, I was scared about what kind of impact would I make/not make. Would a few days of dirty work do any good? What am I really doing here? What am doing in New Orleans, in New York City, in this world? Am I going to leave the legacy that I want to leave?
Big questions blanketed my vision but the love for the present of New Orleans residents sparked an idea in my mind. To have lost a home. To have lost a spouse. To have lost a love. To have lost their lives in a disaster bestowed by nature is a loss incomprehensible to myself and to those who cannot experience it and despite this experience, these survivors thrive and celebrate, love and greet, smile and live more than people who do truly "succeed" in well-off areas. They know life and death. They know that they are happy and dealing with the moment.
This concept helped me to remember that service is about the individual. The small steps, not so much the big picture. Yes, service can and certainly does change the world, but first it changes the volunteer and the receiver. It changes a world, and then the world. I broke my fear of heights by climbing a ladder making me about 1.5 stories high to paint a man's house with a peach color chosen by his wife. He bought ten whole pizzas for our group of only nine volunteers. He spoiled us with love that was unspeakable of, a love that I could barely understand but I knew all so well. It was a love that makes the world go round and makes service was it is. Because of the service of this week, I'm letting go of looking at the world through the lense of big success, big dreams, big hopes, big leaps--no, it's about the individual first. It's not about me being the next big talk show host or whatever I want to be (not even sure yet), but it's about reaching one more person. If one person even reads this post, that'll be something, it'll be service.
In relation to fashion, I'm coming to realize that it really isn't about the brand, about the color, about pattern, about the print, you know what, it's not even truly about how it looks, but fashion stems from the story. The clothes I wear shouldn't be about a show. I no longer want to say that I'm from a different place than New Orleans. Because I flew on an airplane to serve doesn't make me better. And likewise I don't want to show my clothes to this world, but my story, that I'm a same human, with a different experience, culture, life and taste. Fashion works with service in that I'd like to hold some reader or viewer of a magazine, blog, twitter, whatever's hand through the power of art, the story that cements art, and move them to move others. That's real fashion. Not Marc Jacobs. Not 2940 followers. Not Fashion Week. Not Paris. It's the movement and the service.
Service is a lifestyle of outreach, founded on a love for people, a love for the world. Service overflows from the revolution of love.
Thank you New Orleans. Thank you New York City. Thank you God.
"The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love...We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force."
Besides photos exposing (still) broken homes of the lower ninth ward, I've included photos of my journey as a whole! I think you can safely say, love was a big theme :)
Yes, Blockbuster gets its own caption because we didn't even think it still existed:
(All photos not including myself were taken by me)song of the moment