I just got back from my first time in the south! Hello Louisiana! My best friend just moved there to become a 6th grade English teacher. She is doing a great job! I really look up to her, because she has devoted the next two years of her life to making changes in the achievement gap in the educational system in the United States. To help you understand better, she works 15 hour days, her students can barely read and write, and spends her weekends planning lessons and grading papers. There is a lot to be done, the United Sates is in serious trouble when it comes to educational disparity. I am so proud of what she is doing! Most people couldn’t do it. After visiting Julia’s classroom, we did get to explore the town of Baton Rouge.
On Saturday, we went to an LSU football game. Scratch that. We tailgated with the locals for hours upon hours. There were pick-up trucks, boys in short khaki shorts with embroidered belts, babies in cheerleading uniforms, and jumbalaya being stirred in huge cast-iron pots with huge wooden paddles. Every time I heard the word “ya’ll” I giggled with excitement. Brenna takes on the south!
My favorite part of this cult-like festival was the pre-game parade. Mike the Tiger, LSU’s mascot, is a real Bengal tiger living in a state-of-the-art habitat on campus at LSU. While this shocked me – cue the PETA radicals – it turns out he isn’t being tortured or stifled by his status as mascot of LSU. He is living like a king!
According to LSU’s website, “The new environment created for Mike is over 15,000 square feet in size with lush planting, a large Live Oak tree, a beautiful waterfall and a stream evolving from a rocky backdrop overflowing with plants and trees. The habitat has, as a backdrop, an Italianate tower, a campanile, that creates a visual bridge to the Italianate architectural vernacular that is the underpinning of the image of the entire beautiful LSU campus. This spectacular new habitat features state-of-the-art technologies, research, conservation and husbandry programs. It is, in essence, one of the largest and finest Tiger habitats in the United States”. [http://www.mikethetiger.com/index.php?display=habitat]
So even though Mike was lives in captivity at a college campus, he is treated well. That’s what I like to hear. When Mike the tiger “feels like” joining the parade to inspire the fans of LSU, he voluntarily goes in his cage and is paraded around campus. Now, does this seem normal to anyone? I mean, the most outlandish things I’ve heard is the hawk who never dies at SJU in Philly. But come on, that is just a man in a hawk uniform who waves his hands around for hours. An actual tiger? Brought from China? To inspire a football team? Genius!
I graduated from a school where the mascot is the Cardinals. This got me thinking – how can we inspire the students and alumni of CUA? Attendance at athletic events is low, and we could use a little of LSU’s spirit. Let’s start a bird sanctuary people! Instead of being bored at football games, watching our team being massacred by other division III schools, fans could bring binoculars for when times get rough, and do a bit of bird-watching. Sure, an urban environment isn’t the best for the health of these warm blooded vertebrates, but this is where survival of the fittest comes in. Of course, we could get a state-of-art-habitat like Mike’s, but that would require money from alumni, and since all of our alumnus are priests, we must start campaigning for this during the second collection. Ideas and feedback are welcome. Go cards!
I cannot talk about travel without mentioning something to satisfy the needs of foodies everywhere. Of course, I must talk about southern food, specifically crawfish balls. I was told that was one specialty that I could not miss. I then insisted on saying “crawfish balls” every chance I could get. Mature.
We drove to the country, to ensure authenticity of local cuisine. The restaurant we chose was called, “Not your Mamma’s”. Extra points for a saucy name. These gooey and spicy balls were a special treat. Similar to croquettes, the outside was fried and crispy, and the inside was a mix of dough, crawfish, spices, and veggies. I ate them up and demanded more! If you ever go to Baton Rouge, please eat crawfish balls.
What is the special local cuisine in your town? Does your college have a live tiger, bear, or maybe a “colonial” or “quaker” living on campus? post a comment here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org