New Orleans: Community Building and Beignets



Program Description 

New Orleans is a city rich in culture, tradition, and history. Through the strong influence of African, African American, Native American, Spanish, and French cultures, New Orleans offers a unique experience for everyone who visits. This seven-day program will give participants the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in one of the most resilient Black communities in the country. Black communities in the Cresent City have survived through slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, civil rights, as well as Hurricane Katrina. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in community service, tours of some of the most iconic neighborhoods in the country, and discussions with faculty and community members about the history and culture of Black communities in New Orleans. Apply today and join us this Spring! 

Examples of activities (subject to change):

  • Visit to the French Quarter, Whitney Plantation, Studio BE, Congo Square, Dancing Grounds, Augustine Church
  • Museum visits to the American History Museum and Katrina Museum
  • Students will also have the opportunity to present, collect, and engage in research on New Orleans culture, history, and experiences during this program.
  • And many more!


AFAM 180 Individual Studies (1 unit)

Individual research project and field activity on phase or topic not covered in regular course offerings.

Prerequisite: Upper division standing.



Program Leader: Dr. Leah Gaines

Dr. Leah Tonnette Gaines is an East Coast native, who received a Ph.D. in African American and African Studies, with a concentration in Urban Education from Michigan State University. She earned an M.A. from Morgan State University, and a B.S. from Towson University. Her most recent work, "'Being in the Center of the Projects,': Urban Education, Structural Inequities, and Provisional Resistance," examines the systemic inequalities experienced by one Baltimore City school, and how their educational community resists such oppressions. Dr. Gaines' research interests include structural inequities, African American education, community resistance, and all things revolving around the experiences, histories, and cultures of Black peoples. She looks forward to meeting the great group of students who are interested in learning the histories and cultures of New Orleans, while also participating in community service opportunities in the area! 




 jahmal williamsProgram Leader: Jahmal Williams

Jahmal Williams currently serves as the Program Director for the African American/Black Student Success Center at SJSU. He is responsible for creating programs and initiatives that serve the Black student community and have a positive impact on Black student retention and graduation. He previously served as the Assistant Director for Training and Special Projects at Peer Connections where he hired, trained, and developed of over 120 peer educators. He is a native of the metro Detroit area in Michigan and came to SJSU almost five years ago after spending over three years at North Carolina Central University working with their minority male retention initiative and as a licensed therapist in their counseling center. He attended the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor where he earned a bachelor’s degree in women's studies in 2005 and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Michigan State University in 2007.

During his time at SJSU, Jahmal was a member of the AFAM student success task force and helped to plan and facilitate each of the three Black student leadership retreats. Along with two colleagues he worked to create the Barbershop Talk Series for Black males, and later led the efforts to grow that program into the Black Male Collective, which seeks to serve as a support to all men of African descent on SJSU's campus. Jahmal is currently the advisor of the Black Student Union and the Black Male Collective, and has been involved with the planning committee of the African American College Readiness Summit for the past four years.




It is important to note that each program's total cost will vary depending on the location and the package it offers.  

$250 SJSU Special Session Tuition ($250 per unit)
$200 Administrative Fee 
$550  Program fees, lodging, class materials and class related tours approximately*
$1000   Total Program Cost


* Airfare is not included.  


Coming soon!


Check out these additional resources for your program.

  • Itinerary
  • Info sessions