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Many come to New Orleans and say it feels less like a city in the South of America than it does a city in the North of the Caribbean.  It is a common saying here that you have to drive north to be in “the south.”  New Orleans will not meet any of your expectations of a typical southern city – but lookout – it just might steal your heart ;)   

New Orleans is often called the Gumbo pot- due to the long history of many different cultures that all stew and dance and live together in New Orleans- African, Creole, Cajun, Spanish, French, German, Native American, European, Catholic- It all comes together to create a fusion of culture that is unlike any other place.  In New Orleans you will experience a culture with incredible food, a slower pace of life, an uncanny ability to celebrate every holiday, a festival almost every day of summer, and jazz music will be the back drop – in your ears and at your fingertips.  If you are bored in the New Orleans your not doing it right - there is always something fun to do here. 


Food in New Orleans is a big part of the experience!  Get ready to experience some decadent Creole and Cajun food - Crawfish, Etouffee, Shrimp and Grits, Oysters, Red Beans and Rice, Cooked Greens, Cochon De lait Po Boy, Fried Chicken, Beignets, White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Gator Sausage, and so much more!!  


But one cannot reduce New Orleans to its food, and/or its many celebrations. Because New Orleans also has many reasons to lament.           


Though geographically and by measure of population, New Orleans is a smaller city- we have all the problems of a large city.  A Broken Education system, gun violence, gang violence, a huge disparity between the rich and the poor, explicit and systemic racism, poor access to healthy food, and  we are continuing to heal from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Though you will have many opportunities to dance in the streets and celebrate life with your neighbors, you will also find yourself weeping with those same neighbors as you live and work together with them in the tension of sorrow and celebration. 


Throughout your YAV year you will find yourself in the midst of this tension which will be used to help you engage and deepen your faith.

Core Tenets of the YAV Program 


• Intentional Christian Community: YAVs explore what it means to be a Christian community with one another and their neighbors. While some will live in housing together and others spread throughout their country, all YAVs will reflect together on their service and explore their relationship with God, the church, and their ministry in a broken world.  


• Simple Living: YAVs are challenged to practice simple living – living an abundant life with less. Living simply pushes YAVs to evaluate their true needs with their lifestyle and beliefs.  


• Cross-Cultural Mission: YAVs will intentionally explore the diversity of God’s creation, living and working outside of their comfort zone. YAVs will work to confront the systemic challenges of race, class, gender, and power, while learning to examine their own lives and actions.  


• Leadership Development through Faith in Action: YAVs develop their leadership by serving in marginalized communities alongside local people of faith responding to poverty, violence, and injustice in their communities, sharing the gospel through word and deed.  


• Vocational Discernment: Through theological reflection and spiritual practices, YAVs will participate in the process of vocational discernment –unearthing God’s desire for each person’s life and work. 

The City of New Orleans 

The theme of our site is the City of New Orleans itself.  Everything about a YAV year in New Orleans is about introducing the YAVs to this unique and dynamic city.  The City of New Orleans is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world, and in our opinion it’s flavor and way of life cannot be found anywhere else in these United States.

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