Matt Huber is hooked on New Orleans. But it's not the Cajun cooking, the world-class jazz, or the laid-back ambience that captivated him. It's the intense but rewarding experience of helping the city's residents recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
A philosophy and mathematics major from New Albany, Ohio, Huber spent half of his 2005-06 winter break on a Kenyon-sponsored service trip to help with cleanup efforts in the Big Easy. "Seeing very few traffic lights that functioned, and working in neighborhoods where every single house was still abandoned, opened my eyes to amount of work still needed," he recalls. He organized a return trip over spring break, taking even more Kenyon volunteers.
Huber went on to establish OhioAction, a grassroots group dedicated to finding food and housing for any Ohio college student who wants to travel to New Orleans to help with the ongoing Katrina cleanup. Dozens of fellow Kenyon students have worked with him, signing up volunteers, visiting campuses across the state to spread the word, and soliciting donations for aid organizations. The group has set up a Web site, www.ohioaction.org, to provide more information.
While relief work would seem distant from the abstractions of philosophy and mathematics, Huber finds that his two majors have served him well. "Philosophy gave me a well-thought-out perspective on how one should live life," he says, "and mathematics constantly challenges me to solve problems in creative new ways."