Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Project Mexico

Project Mexico

Last Thursday I attended an event called the Project Mexico Auction. Project Mexico is a service program where twenty students travel to Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico for ten days and enroll in cultural and educational activities and work on construction projects. The auction is held to raise money for the trip as well as for the communities the students’ work with. This fundraiser auctions off a ton of cool stuff including signed sports jersey’s from Loyola captains, spa days, gift certificates and even BBQ grills! My favorite thing I saw auctioned off was fifty-yard line Raven’s tickets. It was hilarious to see students jumping up and down with their auction paddles fighting for what was being offered, while other students were cheering them on. I was surprised to see how much money people were willing to spend just to support this program and of course to receive their prize. It was a great way to fundraise a ton of money. Not only was the auction entertaining but they also provided food! My friend and I walked downstairs to the box office and paid five dollars and were given red wristbands for an all you can eat taco buffet. The food was delicious and I even got to try a churro, a tasty Mexican dessert.
My tie to Jesuit education in this case would be that this program reminded me of the service program I did with my church my junior year, Project Hope. Project Hope was a program where ten of us traveled to Mississippi to help rebuild houses for Hurricane Katrina relief. It was a mind-blowing experience. I remember being so nervous because I had no idea what to expect because I had never been that far south before. The people were so nice and so grateful for our help, which I am sure was the same case with the Project Mexico people. You get a feel for what life is like for these people when you visit their homes. It is quite a learning experience and by the end of the trip you have made so many new friends you just don’t want to leave. Helping out communities not only benefits them, but it also benefits you. I gained a ton of beneficial skills from my trip. I learned how to fix up houses using a variety of power tools, except a saw, I wasn’t allowed to touch that haha, and I learned a ton about people’s culture. During one day we were helping out at a soup kitchen and the people who came to eat started singing southern songs. One guy made up his own lyrics to a blues song. We had a blast singing along. Though the work was tough and the heat was unbearable at times I still had an amazing time in Mississippi. Looking back on it now I a really happy I decided to partake in that Jesuit service program because it opened my eyes to a new world and it made me more independent.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Event Analysis 12/2/08

On the night of November 17th I attended a talk about Loyola College’s Unity Pledge. Omani Guy is a friend of mind and he let me know about it and that I should attend. There were several people who talked about different kind of racism and prejudices that they had faced. To hear that such nasty things had occurred on our campus was mind boggling.

I have two opinions about this talk. One being that racism and being prejudice towards certain people should simply not be tolerated anywhere not just only at Loyola. There was a website that was brought up during the talk that I have heard about and actually read the horrible comments left. Things such as this website just create more drama and conflicts and there are a lot of more productive things people could be doing on campus rather than writing nasty anonymous comments on a website. The stories of being spoken down to and treated differently were upsetting however at a certain point I thought to myself that we are all adults and we need to face the real world.

If we were at a larger school no one would think or look twice at someone who talked about racism, gossip, or conflicts throughout the school. Although the campus should be a nice place to live and interact with others, the real world is a harsh place. The speakers ranged in age from 18-21 and in my opinion at some point they need to realize that the world is not as pretty or nice as Loyola’s campus. Should they have to put up with being treated differently or having comments written about them on a website? Of course not. However Loyola’s meetings and speeches regarding nasty comments about the election and now its Unity Pledge are becoming over done. Loyola’s Unity Pledge won’t be able to protect us forever and we need to be able to handle ourselves once we graduate.

It’s a tough topic because I feel so differently about it. Once side of me knows what it feels like to be victimized and see other people be bullied and treated poorly. However the other side of me wonders when twenty year olds are going to stand up for themselves and teach people how to be respectful, rather than talking about it during SGA talks across campus. As seen in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” the world is not always as nice and respectful as the students across the Loyola Campus. Viola is dressed up in a disguise and involved in a love triangle, there are drunk’s and people who are only concerned with themselves (such as Malvolio). As Shakespeare’s play unravels it reveals to the reader how screwed up people’s lives can become. It’s not an ideal situation that all the characters are in but that’s how reality is. So for me to completely agree with the speech that I went to is difficult because we are now young adults and should be making people respect us for who we are.

Catholic Relief Services: a leader in HIV Programming

“AIDS is among the greatest development and security issues facing the world today.” – President Bill Clinton

Just this past Monday, December 1st, was World AIDS awareness day and to help increase knowledge of the disease and raise money for research, Loyola is holding a world AIDS awareness week. Tonight the college hosted Laura Collins of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as a guest speaker to not only give insight on the AIDS epidemic but to share information about how we as students can get involved.
Started after World War II and originally named the War Relief Services, the CRS was meant to serve as a temporary service by concerned US immigrants who wished for refugees to be returned to the countries they fled. Today, the CRS now has over 5,000 staff members worldwide and focuses on both disaster relief (man-made and natural) and development (food security, health, water and sanitation, etc.). The fight against HIV is relatively new for the CRS but has become a major focus of the foundation. A recent census has documented over 33.2 million cases of HIV in the world. In 2007 alone there were 2.5 million new cases reported and 2.1 million deaths recorded. This proves that the need for prevention is equal to the need for treatment and care. With 65 million people infected and over 25 million people killed since the disease was first recognized in 1981, the AIDS epidemic has spread throughout the world. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most highly effected area but as the spread of disease has begun to stabilize in Africa there has been a dramatic rise in the number of new cases in Asia. On average there are over 11,000 new cases of infection daily with 95% of these new cases occurring in low or middle-income countries. This statistic alone proves the link between poverty and disease. Of the 11,000 new cases, 1500- 1800 of the infected are children under the age of 15 (mostly newborns). Though these numbers are jaw dropping, the most disturbing fact about HIV is that a majority of people who are infected do not even know. This fact greatly undermines the actual statistics about the disease. Only one in every eight people who want to be tested actually has the ability/ resources to be. This makes containing the spread of HIV almost impossible.
Though HIV and AIDS do pose an increasing threat on the world’s population we are not without hope. It is believed that only a certain percentage of people with HIV require therapy in the form of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). Many people go on to live both successful and healthy lives despite coping with HIV. But it is not easy to ignore the many lives that HIV and AIDS destroy. It is estimated that in Sub-Saharan Africa over 12 million children under the age of 18 have been orphaned due to the disease. Take into the account the large death toll and it becomes clear that AIDS is something that will not simply disappear which is where many government funded foundation and programs as well as religious charities and groups such as CRS step in. There is a global commitment to help suppress the effect of AIDS on the human population. In the millennium development goals that were set up by many of the world’s leaders at a conference around the time of the new millennium, there was a goal for a halt or reversal to the global HIV epidemic by the year 2015. With the approaching New Year we are a little more than halfway through the proposed time period and although a cure has yet to be found the world remains hopeful.
The CRS operates through partners with the ultimate goal of putting itself out of business. What this means is that instead of running clinics, the CRS provides the capacity for already existing clinics to provide for those in need. The CRS helps its partners provide until their involvement is no longer needed which often occurs through increased interest from those who reside in the community around the clinic. The CRS puts roughly 30% of the money it receives into prevention and 50% of the money into care and support. Aside from simply donating, it is up to us to not only learn about HIV but to act by spreading the word.

Catholic Relief Services Presentation and Discussion on AIDS stigma

Chris Saksa
Dr. June Ellis
Understanding Lit
2 December 2008

Catholic Relief Services Presentation and Discussion on AIDS stigma
In celebration of World AIDS Week Nora Collins of Catholic Relief Services came to Loyola to inform students about AIDS/HIV’s effect on our world and how CRS is taking strides in providing care for those patients in need. The informative presentation discussed the CRS program, the AIDS epidemic, the global commitment to improving the situation, and what we, as students, can do to make a difference. I learned a great deal about a situation that I had completely underestimated and also showed me ways where I can get involved in this wonderful program. Using visual aids such as statistics, pictures, and charts the presentation help enlighten the audience to the efforts CRS is making and what we could do to improve our world.
To open the discussion the speaker provided the audience with background information regarding the CRS program and how profound their effect truly is. Catholic Relief Services staffs over 5000 individuals in over 100 countries and aids in disaster relief, development of impoverished countries, and the AIDS Relief effort. The Catholic Church created the group after WWII in hope of helping return refugees to their homes and providing humanitarian assistance in the war ravaged nations. Originally there were no plans to continue the service organization, but their success brought new horizons. Currently CRS is the world leader in AIDS help programming and now devotes a huge focus on the relief effort. For instance, CRS has over 250 AIDS/HIV projects in 52 countries and has spent 120 million dollars in aid in hope of ending the epidemic. This epidemic, as she explained, is one that affects over 33 million worldwide.
While all the statistics provided shocking evidence of the real magnitude of the epidemic, what really made me interested in the program was the modest request for us to make a difference. The simple plan of action she asked of us was to pray, learn, act, and give. She presented this idea in a way that explained anything we do to aid the effort is a step in the right direction. Additionally she explained the U.S. initiative PEPFAR provided over 15 billion dollars in aid from 2003 to 2008, but with this five-year strategy needing to be renewed in 2009 she asked for us to sign up to push for the passing of the legislation of the new plan. This provided me a way to make a difference in a seemingly overwhelming epidemic and has made me even more interested in helping this organization. So immediately following the presentation I felt it would be a disservice to all those in need if I did not take action and join the CRS legislative network. I also plan to donate money to the effort in Boulder tomorrow because the presentation was truly and eye-opener.
For me the experience of the presentation was one that I am glad I was apart of because not only did I gain an awful lot of knowledge regarding the AIDS/HIV affect on our world, but additionally how I could carry out the Jesuit ideals and do anything I could to aid this worthy cause.

twelfth night

Carina Ecclefield
Dr. Ellis
Final Blog
Twelfth Night

On November 24, I attended the PBS documentary Race: The Power of an Illusion. This film was very educational and brought up many points and ideas that seem obvious to us, but are often forgotten. This film is important in our current time, because of the events of the election and constant efforts to stop and prevent racism. Also it is unbelievable to think of the level of racism that actually does exist. This reminded me of the Invisible Children documentary that I saw only a few weeks ago. It is something we are all aware of and know that such events takes place every day, but when we watch such a film we are really moved. It had a strong impact on me because we see the effects of people’s attitudes and we become inspired to do something about it.
Although I had previously known many facts about racism, it was still an eye opening film for me. I grew up in a town where pretty much everyone is just like me. There were a few kids I remember in elementary school who were from other countries and they were ridiculed because they were not just like everyone else. I was not one of the kids who ridiculed anyone, but I also didn’t do anything to stop it. Looking back on it now, there really is no difference between those kids and me. It is awful that because of skin color or traditions, or an accent someone can be tormented so much. I wish that I could go back and stand up for the kids who were made fun of. I am just as guilty for not standing up for them as the kids who laughed and poked fun. After seeing the video and growing up quite a bit, I would be one of the first people to stand up for a person suffering as a victim of racism.
A film about racism is extremely relevant to our lives in Baltimore. It is almost impossible to go off campus without seeing member of many races. There are people who fit and don’t fit the most common stereotypes, but if we all followed the ideas of these stereotypes we would live in hatred and in fear. The video showed how important it is for us to get past this and see people for whom they really are.
This idea of hatred, confusion, treating people badly, and caring about who a person truly is relates to Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. The deception in this play shows that people are not necessarily what they seem. It is that common saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Prior to the characters realizing this they base their relationships on lies and superficial external traits. In the end it turns out that some people aren’t what they appear and we should give them a chance without any original judgment. It also shows that just because someone is like you in color and tradition does not mean that you will necessarily like them. Although the play does not directly address racism is addresses the ideas of judgment of character based in appearance. The play does illustrate sexism which can be very closely compared to racism. Sexism is the reason for much of the confusion; it is the reason that Viola is dressed as a man. This play does indirectly relate to the PBS documentary.
Also the documentary clearly relates to Jesuit education. This is because part of our education is educating the whole person. By showing this film, we were offered to learn something that is not part of our everyday studies. It also provided us with a way to help others and become aware of the problems around us. Clearly another important part of Jesuit education: education of the person for the good of others.
The film on racism made me reflect strongly on the person I am and the people around me. It made me think more about how it doesn’t matter if you’re not doing something bad, if you’re still not doing anything about it. We often complain about our problems and how bad our day was, reflecting on this film I realize how important it is to think about the situation of others and how bad their day may have been.

Project Mexico & Twelfth Night

Erin Kadamus
Before Thanksgiving break, I attended the Project Mexico auction. As I walked through the student center I heard all of the noise from McGuire Hall. When I entered the auction site, the room was filled with people bidding on different items. Everyone there was present to support CCSJ, Project Mexico, and Encounter El Salvador. Today, this auction is one of Loyola’s most celebrated events.
Project Mexico began in 1987 and was created by two Loyola Jesuits, Peter Clark, S.J. and Joseph Koterski, S.J. It is an international immersion program located in Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico. Twenty Loyola students and three faculty members travel to Mexico in early January. They work together to serve the community by participating in construction projects, social activities, and educational programs. The mission of this program is to foster personal growth through service, justice, spirituality, and education.
After a group returned from Mexico, they wanted to start service activities in the local area. Students wanting to serve in the Baltimore area helped create the Center for Community Service and Justice. As a result, Project Mexico transformed Loyola College, and without it, the same amount of service activity would not exist.
This year, over sixty applications were received for Project Mexico. After much consideration, eighteen students were chosen, consisting of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, along with two student leaders and three faculty members.
The first auction took place in 1991 and auctioned around forty items. Today the auction sells over 260 items, including football tickets, weekend vacations, dinner with Father Linnane, and Princeton Review classes. To keep the crowd entertained there are performances by the Belles and Chimes, as well as a Mexican buffet. In addition to the activities inside McGuire Hall, there is a silent auction in the hallway. These auction items include all different categories, from art to household appliances to sporting apparel.
A partner to Project Mexico is Encounter El Salvador. This international immersion program takes place in El Salvador for ten days, following graduation in May. Nine undergraduate students, four graduate students, faculty, and two co-coordinators experience this chance in a lifetime. This program has a similar mission statement to Project Mexico, to foster personal growth, but also understand the Salvadorian’s struggle for justice and the trauma from the war.
Project Mexico and Encounter El Salvador encourage the students to be open-minded and see the world through new eyes, similar to how Viola has a new view of the world when she impersonates a man, Cesario. The Loyola students are removed from their natural surroundings, their comfort zone, and placed in a new environment. Viola wants to conceal her identity and disguise herself as a servant for Duke. She is a noble and has placed herself in a new environment, serving a fellow nobleman. Being placed in a new environment, whether in Mexico or Illyria, leads to life altering experiences.

The Room

Every week I travel to Don Miller House, and I am able to spend time with my friend Dee Dee. We play all different types of games, and usually following a similar routine. We often spend our time sitting at the dining room table, but one night I had to follow Dee Dee upstairs to help her carry her laundry to the basement. This was a strange experience because I had never been to the upper level of the house, where the personal rooms of the residents are located.
Although my journey to the second floor was a simple one, it gave me a completely different view, of how Dee Dee and her housemates live. As we ran up the narrow staircase we made a quick turn into a very tiny bedroom. The room did not seem to fit Dee Dee, because she is so vibrant and full of life. The room was shallow in length but even more drastic to the eye, was the width of the room. With the tiny twin bed parallel to the wall, there was hardly enough room for both me and Dee to stand. Even though Dee Dee was smiling, because she was glad to show me her personal space, I suddenly became sad. I guess the people living at Don Miller House have much to be thankful for, because they have a roof over their head, and delicious food every night, but in that moment I felt they deserved more. Dee Dee’s room was so small; I felt that it must be hard for her to maneuver. The lighting was also dim which added to the eerie feeling that was hanging over me.
As I stood awkwardly in Dee Dee’s special place, I noticed a manger that was sitting on her dresser. When I looked closer, I realized that my family has the very same manger, which we place under our Christmas tree every year. I was delighted and told Dee Dee my interesting fact. Her eyes lit up and she told me she wanted me to have the manger. I am not sure if she understood what I meant. Maybe she thought that I really loved the manger, and wanted to have it for my own. Of course I was only pointing out that we had the same one. Nonetheless the excitement in her eyes was incredible. She was willing to give me one of the very few things that she owned. Most people I know are not too good at sharing, but Dee Dee was going beyond anything I ever could imagine. Her generosity and kindness, even if she did not realize, blew me away. Although it was a simple action it made me smile, despite the small dark room I was standing in.
As I read William Shakespeare Twelfth Night, the treatment of Malvolio reminded me of this experience in a twisted way. Obviously Malvolio and Dee Dee do not have similar personalities or character traits, but they both have been locked up in a dark small room. Even though Malvolio is arrogant, and only concerned with money and power, he is still innocent. Everyone in the play is making him out to be a lunatic, who deserves to be locked up, but he did find a letter. Malvolio may be a bit troubled and he might need to straighten out his priorities, but no one deserves to be shut in the darkness. The people working for Don Miller House, are not choosing to “lock up” their residents, but I do feel that society has put a taint on the disease AIDS. Over the years HIV/AIDS, has been a disease that not may people have understood. Before society understood how it spread, certain groups of people were singled out. In today’s world it is clear that anyone can be affected, but that does not stop people from feeling threatened. Although Shakespeare creates Malvolio in a malignant fashion, I still found sympathy for him at the end of they play. It is easier to find compassion for my friends at Don Miller house. Dee Dee and her friends are innocent, but society has chosen to place them in a distance and dark room.