This story submitted by Natalie Banaszak.
On Feb. 17, exactly one week after the tornado touched down at USM, a group of 28 University of Guelph students arrived in Hattiesburg after close to 25 hours of driving down from Canada. It was my first experience of the South – and boy was it ever incredible. Stepping off the bus and into the sunshine, straight into the welcoming arms of the USM campus and staff felt absolutely incredible. I never felt a greater sense of awe and inspiration than I did in that moment. Over the week, our group volunteered at various locations in the Hattiesburg community. We truly felt like we were a part of the USM community. Now, sitting on my bed back home in Canada, I find myself missing USM and Hattiesburg a whole lot. I was prepared to go on the service-learning trip to learn a bit more about myself and about a different culture, but never did I think that within the five days of our stay at Southern Miss I would become so deeply involved within the university’s community.
It was a sad sight driving away from our partners at Southern Miss on Saturday Feb. 23, and I will always fondly remember the university.
The spirit at the school is incredible; the relief efforts have been astounding, and the sense of community pride and support is absolutely the most inspiring thing I have ever encountered in my life.
Thank you, USM. There is a special place in my heart for you, always.
“Tornados can’t rock tradition”