Caroline Gerdes

  If you’re lost in the New Orleans Ninth Ward, asking for directions may not be helpful.  Locals have some interesting pronunciations for the street names. In actuality, Ninth Warders’ intonations are more correct than visitors’.  As a community founded by majority French and German immigrants, the French street names have kept their original pronunciations....

If Americans love football, New Orleanians worship their Saints. Yes, there are some fans locally and abroad who hopped on the bandwagon more recently. The Saints, as most football fans know, weren’t always the team they are today. Many New Orleanians stayed loyal, but not without incorporating that local satirical spirit. During those dark days,...

When I first heard on Sunday (Aug. 26) that then Tropical Storm Isaac was definitely heading my way, I cringed. There is an uncertainty that comes with this kind of storm, Isaac was predicted to be a category 1 or 2, which is very different from a cat 5 like Hurricane Katrina. In a big storm,...

  It would be impossible to study the Ninth Ward without visiting the community and understanding some of the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina; for example, abandoned buildings, overgrown shrubbery and, most notably, the spray painted “X” markings on homes.  With the seventh anniversary of Katrina at the end of the month, it is important...

Voodoo As a New Orleanian, I often forget about Voodoo — until I am reminded by businesses with Voodoo in the title or dolls in French Quarter gift shops. It all seems so commercialized … And that’s because those who do practice Voodoo keep it a secret. During a recent conversation, one of our team members, Jake...

  When I travel outside Louisiana, I often am asked the same few questions after introducing myself as a New Orleanian. They are usually about the South, Cajuns, Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina.  But, the primary fascination is always alligators. And, I am not the only Louisianan who has noticed this trend.  My sister was...

  To the rest of the country, red beans and rice is a New Orleans tradition. In New Orleans, it is a Monday tradition. Growing up in Louisiana, I remember seeing Monday specials for red beans and hearing people say they wanted the dish solely because it was Monday.  Red beans on Monday was a...

It’s no secret that a lot of Louisiana’s famous dishes hail from France. But when the recipes immigrated to Louisiana, a lot of them assimilated to delta terrain. Pralines are a perfect example of such adaptation.  This French confection of sugar and nuts was originally created with almonds. When the dish settled in America, by...

  I am a couple of weeks into my exploration and I have already captured the stories of several people who have called the New Orleans Ninth Ward home. And, after hearing their voices, I feel compelled to debunk an old New Orleans’ stereotype. People from New Orleans do not speak with a Southern drawl....

Here I am, about two months from starting my expedition as a National Geographic Young Explorers Grantee.  Most adventurers would be rushing to get passports, eco-friendly bug repellents and whatever you call those ropes that keep you from plummeting off the mountain you’re scaling.  Luckily, I don’t have to worry about visas or carabiners, because...

By Caroline Gerdes   While famous figures continue to make discoveries and lead thrilling expeditions, a new group of National Geographic Young Explorers are laying the foundations for the future. “An initial grant from National Geographic helped launch the careers of many of the Society’s, and our planet’s, most renowned explorers,” said Rebecca Martin, Director...

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair and writer Cynthia Gorney—in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic—investigated the underground world of prearranged child marriage, where girls as young as five are forced to wed. In conversation with Jon Sawyer of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, they will share images and stories of a practice that spans continents...