Wednesday, December 17, 2008
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
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.
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.
Dr. June Ellis
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.
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.
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.
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.
The main point of the forum was for students at Loyola College to speak up about problems they have encountered on campus, and to share their emotions with other students at the forum. The purpose of this was to encourage and initiate respect on campus and in the community in order to bring unity between Loyola students and administrators. As a Jesuit institution, we are encouraged to help others and respect all no matter what the circumstance.
The forum itself was extremely emotional and deeply connected to the audience. For example, a student spoke about her life as an immigrant, growing up in a Caucasian family and neighborhood. She explained that she was discriminated against her entire life and people at Loyola, even her friends, continue to make comments about her culture. Although I am only half Hispanic, I am a minority as well and so topic deeply related to me. The audience was able to speak up themselves after the seven students. One by one, people stood to share their own thoughts about unity and respect at Loyola, and how many things need to change before we can all be united.
The reading, “Twelfth Night,” by William Shakespeare can relate to the Unity Forum because both involve respect and harmony. In “Twelfth Night” the characters are all tangled together love triangles, disguises, and more. The moral of the entire Unity Pledge is to have respect and love for one another. In the reading, there are many characters that don’t have respect, such as Malvolio, who only is concerned with himself and his own worth. People like him are the ones in which the Unity Pledge is supposed to reach out to. The pledge is aimed to allow people to be more like the characters of the clown and Viola/ Cesario, who always tell the truth about others and themselves. Most people put others down in order to make themselves feel better, such as Malvolio did. Ambition is a big theme in “Twelfth Night,” and ambition is what usually makes others treat others without respect in order to get what they want. The Unity Pledge is something that was created so that all will be respected and so that we can all learn to live and grow with one another.
I was able to see a connection between making the care packages and Twelfth Night. In Act III, Scene IV, Sir Andrew wants to fight Cesario for Olivia. Sir Toby keeps egging Sir Andrew on, hoping for some entertainment. Cesario, really Viola, tries to get out of the fight but ends up drawing her sword. Antonio, thinking she is Sebastian, comes to her aid. This made me think of the members of the Ed Society who spent their time and money to create awesome care packages. While it may not be as extreme as risking your life for someone, as Antonio does for Viola and Sebastian numerous times, the Ed Society is still trying to do their best to help out those who are sick. We don't get to deliver the packages to the teens because of their immune systems, so we won't even get to see their reactions. But hoping that they feel a little bit happier because of what we made is, at least for me, enough reason to do it. Antonio doesn't have to protect Sebastian, but he is his loyal friend and Antonio does all he can to serve him. Their friendship is his reason for saving Sebastian's life during the wreck and accompanying him to Illyria.
The loyalty and dedication of Antonio's character to Sebastian is juxtaposed to many of the other characters in the play who use each other. Sir Toby uses his "friend" Sir Andrew to continue his drinking spree and as entertainment. He lies and puts Sir Andrew in harm's way to get what he wants. Maria plays a joke on Malvolio to entertain herself and Sir Toby, which causes Malvolio to be locked away and deemed a madman. These characters are the complete opposite of Antonio as they exploit those who are supposed to be their friends. It displays two ends of the spectrum; how malicious and mean people can be and also how giving and generous others are. I'm glad Loyola is filled with generous people, like the members of the Ed Society who donate to those who are less fortunate
From the research that I did I found out a lot about the origin of Project Mexico. Project Mexico, a 10-day service immersion program in Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico. It began in 1987, founded by two Jesuits here named, Peter Clark, and Joseph Koterski, ironically enough it was almost by accident. Father Clark wanted to give his students a first-hand experience with justice and had planned, along with Father Koterski, a trip to Haiti where a group of students and staff would work in a hospital for HIV-AIDS patients. Because of violence in that country the United States took away the groups visa. Then the group an opportunity to work in Tijuana, Mexico at a place called Casa de Los Pobres, or "the House for the Poor." After this trip, Project Mexico was born.
This immersion trip, as long as the promoting the core values of Jesuit education go along well with many of the readings we have done in this class. Specifically now while reading the Twelfth Night it brings up questions of loyalty and service. Similarly to many of the characters in this book students at Loyola are trying to help Mexico. I realize that it is a different type of loyalty but Viola and Sebastian are loyal and dedicated just like us today.
The real question posed by the film is whether or not we are going to allow ourselves to be subjected to the illusion that is race while convincing ourselves that certain things (especially negative things) are attributable to race. After reading the opening acts of Shakespeare`s "Twelfth Night" I made a conncection between it and the film. The importance and attention to disguise, or an illusion of appearance, is quickly recognized. When in disguise, the characters act in ways different than they would had they been dressed normally. Although the Clown in "Twelfth Night" is not exactly "in disguise" he is dressed in a manner that causes others to make presuppositions about his character. However, the foolish exterior of the clown proves to be only skin deep. Throughout the play, the Clown continually makes seemingly profound, philosophical or educated remarks. Moreover, it turns out that the Clown is the most truthful of all the characters. From this, the idea that exterior features show little about the true fabric of a person emerges.
The concept of looking past exterior features can be directly and effectively applied to race relations. Someone`s skin color or complexion has little to do with their internal beliefs. There are a number of holes in the logic of race. For instance, how many races are there? Possibilities range from two (black and white) all the way to thousands or millions (1 for even the slightest variation in complexion). Especially in today`s world, it is important for people to be able to look for similarities in people rather than creating differences.
Some striking similarities, on the genetic level, between races were revealed in the film. It documented an experiment in which teenagers if varying sex and race came together and examined samples of their own DNA. Every teen hypothesized that their DNA would be most similar to that of the person who was most similar to them in appearance. To their surprise, and my own, almost every sample revealed the most similarities between people who appeared physically different. For example, a black girl`s DNA was most similar to that of a white boy. A related fact is that within racial populations there exists the same if not more variation than between different populations.
Unfortunately, over the centuries, racism has become ingrained in the world. It seems that people tended to seek explanation to physical differences and make them account for more than what they really are. This film effectively sheds light upon the truth of the matter concerning racial differences. Disguises are all around us, and are sometimes so effective that it takes science to uncover them. Whether it be the false creation of race or Viola dressing as a man, disguises almost always hide people from the truth. No matter the severity of the truth or the magnitude of the disguise, false assumptions will almost always be made based on exterior appearance. I believe that the filmmakers` intent with "Race: The Power of an Illusion" was to communicate that no matter how accepted something may be in society, it may be based on false assumptions. Preventing negative effects of false assumptions can only be achieved by seeing past the disguise.
Because it was a slow day at Christopher Place, I really only had one “customer.” His name was Ed, and I needed to help him revise a previous resume so that he could apply for a position at a home that helps young boys who don’t really have a strong home life. In working with Ed, I really saw that he had tremendous passion for this cause and it seemed to come from the fact that he didn’t have the best life growing up. He talked about how he wanted to be a role model for the youth he would be serving and about how this would not only be a positive thing for the boys but a positive thing for him as well. In putting down all of his work experience, I saw that he had a very diverse past. He graduated high school in 1984 and has worked locally in Baltimore as a handyman for almost 25 years. He was recently laid off from his latest position, so he decided to make a career change. He said that he began to think about the change because of positive experiences that he has had coaching boys’ basketball teams in the past. Ed said that his skills as a handyman will probably help him to get hired, but he really wants his new position to be about helping the underprivileged youth.
Ed’s passion and interest in his new position reminded me of an exchange between Viola and the Clown that happened in Act III, Scene I. In the scene, Viola says to the Clown “I warrant thou art a merry fellow and carest for nothing.” This reminded me of the preconceived notions that most people have about the men that use the resources of the Employment Center, myself included. Before going in, I didn’t know what types of jobs that I would be helping these men obtain. I figured that they would be a “take what you can get” mentality, looking to accept whatever entry level job that would hire them. But, I was completely wrong. These men are all passionate, and really search hard for jobs that they cannot only get, but ones that they can flourish in. I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that every guy that comes into the Employment Center brings with them a passion for employment. This attitude has definitely rubbed off on me, and makes me that much happier and motivated to help assist them in not only finding a job, but finding them a career.
On Saturday November 22, I took part in the Thanksgiving Food Drive that was done by multiple Center for Community Service and Justice programs with the one here at Loyola College. Throughout the month of November, CCSJ was receive donations of canned goods and other non-perishable items that could be collected in order to be distributed at the food drive over at the CARES Food Pantry ten minutes away from campus. They would also buy turkeys to give out with the other goods as well. Then once Thanksgiving was around the corner, CARES would distribute packages of food based on the number of people that were in a certain person had to feed for the holiday and receive a set amount of food based off of that.
The handing out of the packages was where I came in. I had first learned about the Thanksgiving Food Drive through my FE 100, First-Year Experience, class. As part of the course, everyone was to take part in some sort of service project to possibly help get us involved and active in the service program here at Loyola. Partially because I was so busy for most of the year and part I wanted to do something interesting for this, I signed myself up to work for the food drive. In my senior year of high school, I had worked at a soup kitchen multiple times for my service project to graduate and had enjoyed it very much helped to feed people that were in need. I figured this would be very similar just that when I handed them the food, they would start digging in on it right away.
As myself and three other freshmen at Loyola made our way over to CARES, we introduced ourselves and were ready for a few hours of helping out many people in the surrounding area for the Thanksgiving holiday. We got out of the car to be greeted by a bone chilling cold atmosphere. Once being told how everything was going to work we awaited for the people to come and pick-up their packages. My job was the unpack the ice cold turkeys from the boxes and help put them into plastic bags to hand out to the people, then break down the boxes. After a while, holding frozen turkeys in your hands starts to make them hurt and you lose sensation in them. It was kind of interesting to see how some of the people were reacting to receive the packages. I thought that everyone was going to be happy and in a good mood that they were receiving some help in this time. Don’t get me wrong, most people were happy and very thankful to be getting it, but there were others that were sort of nasty. I was thinking like they seem as though they deserve this food and that we should be giving it out faster. It was just annoying to see how ungrateful some people can be when it comes to service. Then there was one woman who I remember who was so ecstatic about receiving a package. Since there was only a certain amount of people that the pantry could give food out to, some people were told to come at three o’clock to possibly pick up a package that was not claimed. This woman had come before three ready to be first to get one if she could. When the woman was told she would be receiving one, she latched onto the director of the food drive sobbing, and repeating over and over again “Thank you, thank you.” This display of overjoyed is similar to in “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare, when Viola and Sebastian finally realize that it is their sibling and that neither of them is dead. The excitement that both this woman and the characters from “Twelfth Night” must have felt must have been truly an amazing thing to experience.
Overall, the Thanksgiving Food Drive was a very rewarding experience to help bring some aid to those in need in such a wonderful time near the holidays. I hope to continue with this food drive and any other food drives local as well.
Monday, December 1, 2008
It was very hard for me to keep the students focused on their work. Some of them got distracted very easily, and some of them did not do homework at all. I created different ways to keep them focused by lowering the amount of distractions and asking them to take out all the work they had. This worked most of the days, but it was still really hard. I enjoyed it a lot because it was very challenging and I learned about all the trouble that teachers go through to teach these children even though they have the knowledge to actually educate them.
This entire semester I have heard that students at Loyola College participate at different community service events. Many people came to St. Mary’s with me and I got to know a few of them. The Jesuit education at Loyola has taught us to give service without expecting anything back; I see it as giving back what we have gotten from society itself. By doing this kind of work we learn about the city we live in, especially if we come from other places other than Baltimore. Also by participating in community service events we not only help others, but we learn and meet people; we feel better about whom we are as humans.
After reading “Twelfth Night or, what you will” by Shakespeare, we see one of many confusions that happen in society. Sometimes we see strange things happening in the world and we wonder why they happen. It is always unknown, but we also learn that to every action, there is a reaction. Every time we do something nice for others, we will receive something nice, and vice versa. It is always good to stay true to yourself and give service to those who really need it.
Even though I only went to Saint Mary’s once a week, I met many kids who enjoy learning disregarding their situation. Like I wrote in one of my previous blogs, we learn from every experience we have, it is part of our Jesuit education at Loyola. The purpose of providing service is for us to become better rounded and to realize that we have to get out of the so called “bubble” and experience what other people live like. Volunteering at St. Mary’s gave me another perception of Loyola and Baltimore, I learned about the challenges that many people have every day, and I realized how comfortable our lives are in our bubble. We should get out of our comfort zone and help those who really need it.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
For my last event for literature class I attended the Non-Profit and Community Service Fair at Loyola. I originally wasn’t planning on attending this event. I pretty much have a plan for my life after college, I know I want to continue my education and become a teacher. I thought my last event would entitle going to see a play or attending another sponsored talk, two things I very much enjoy doing. The reason I attended the fair was because of an email that arrived two days before the Service fair. It was from my old social justice teacher Mrs. Curran. She was one of those teachers that really made an impact on you, that make you see things in a new light. Mrs. Curran’s classes became one of those classes where you go home and don’t mind doing the homework. Mrs. Curran was a Social Justice teacher and she believed in service and that all people deserve dignity. When she stated that in our classroom I truly believed it, she never went back on her word. First and fore most that’s what she wanted in the world. Everyone should have dignity and understand that service is a wonderful thing if we do it for the right reasons. Mrs. Curran left the year my class was over to teach at a non-profit school. We kept in touch even though very little; she was very busy. In her last email two days before the community service fair, she sounded excited. She said she would be representing her organization, and if I could I should come see her. This is how my event became the service fair. I’m glad it did.
I found my way into Mcquire hall and swiped my evergreen card. I thought about the service I have done, and at that time I didn’t think of Shakespeare and his play ‘Twelfth Night or, what you will’ but now as I do I see similarity. Sometimes mistaken identity can lead us to act upon and do some really outlandish things. In my social justice class we had to form small groups (4 people in each group) and participate in service. Mrs. Curran took me and 4 other people down to Viva House. Viva House is a soup kitchen, social activities house, and home for some. When I first arrived at Viva House I wasn’t relaxed and I wasn’t myself. The people I was serving made me nervous. The one thing that helped me was the list Mrs. Curran had made us write I reflected back on that list and laughed one thing I had written was; I expected ‘their’ behavior to be criminal. I felt a little better, suddenly I was a little more myself. People were so welcoming and loving. Maybe Shakespeare is right love makes us do crazy things like care and put people in front of ourselves. In today’s society that sometimes seems so random but it’s all around us; at Viva house it was a given.
Mrs. Curran now works for Bon Secours sharing the mission of healing, liberation, compassion, and all around Justice. Mrs. Curran is a teacher in inner Baltimore city. She says it’s a lot different than teaching at a Catholic school in Towson, Maryland but she really is enjoying it. There are so many things I want to thank Mrs. Curran for. One is for helping me realize who I was and what I believe in. Mrs. Curran never pushed her ideas on anyone she was always open. Instead though she just smiles at me and asks me about life and my studies. I wish one day I would learn to see dignity in all like her. I wonder about all those people in the community service fair living their life for service. When I was in high school I was taught a valuable lessons service must be done for the right reason.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The structure in the this poem helps to illustrate the theme that we must question of world, and that the most simple things can bring us delight and happiness.
"Snapping Beans" by Lisa Parke
A college student is shucking beans with her grandma, and it appears that nothing needs to be said about the love and comfort that they share with each other.
"Thank You, Ma'am" by Langston Hughes
The benevolence of society comes into light, and in this short story we learn that people share in giving to each other to brighten each others lives.
Langston Hughes "Thank You, M'am"
Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones uses the power of kindness to make a difference in a boy's life and to teach a lesson that anything is possible if you put the effort in.
Lisa Parker, “Snapping Beans”
Lisa Parker portrays how essential it is to have someone to share your feelings with in life, no matter how many problems you have.
Mary Oliver, “Mindful”
Mary Oliver teaches the lesson to not take everyday things for granted, while at the same time learning valuable lessons from the thing you experience all the time.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Life can surprise you even in your most darkest moment and a little kindheartedness can teach you something about the strangers who surround you.
Mary Oliver "Mindful"
The light and beauty of nature can teach a person how to appreciate their everyday world more.
Lisa Parker "Snapping Beans"
Hiding your true feelings and experiences about a new life from a loved one can hurt you both.
Never underestimate the kindness of strangers, because humanity can be surprisingly generous.
When it comes down to it, the simple things in life are the ones that are filled with the most beauty and joy.
Secrets are hard to keep inside, but sometimes even harder to hide from the ones we love.
Mary Oliver`s poem, "Mindful," describes a world that is here for our pure enjoyment and teaches that the best forms of this enjoyment comes from the most basic, ordinary things that the world has to offer.
Langston Hughes` short story, "Thank You, M`am," teaches that a positive attitude towards everything in life, particularly towards those who do you wrong, is the best way to address and change the problems of the world.
Mrs. Jones uses kindness to teach Roger an important lesson between right and wrong, which hopefully has a lasting impact on him.
"Mindful" by Mary Oliver
Joy can be a result of many things, but the delight from ordinary things is more noticeable than the delight from extravagant things.
"Snapping Beans" by Lisa Parke
Concealing aspects about her new life from a loved one in her old life causes a distance and sense of loss between the two characters.
Langston Hughes’ “Thank You, M’am”:
Showing a little kindness has the ability to persuade even the hardest of hearts.
Mary Oliver’s “Mindful”:
It is important to take the time to notice and learn from the beauty that surrounds you in your everyday life.
Lisa Parker’s “Snapping Beans”:It is much easier to ignore your problems than it is to admit to them.
There are everyday things that make us happy, they are usually common and mean a lot, even more than the extravagant.
Lisa Parker, “Snapping Beans”
Hiding the feelings from those who love you can be more painful than talking about them; life in college can be a great experience, but there are also hard moments.
Langston Hughes, “Thank you, Ma’am”
Helping others is the best way to become better persons, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones taught a lesson to this boy by being kind.
Is written to show faith and hope through the actions of strangers. Like the person Mrs. Jones was for the little boy.
This poem connects nature and knowlege through the use of complex languages while takling about ordinary things.
This poem expresses the difficulty in changing your life, like the girl going to college, and finding the right way to share your feelings.
"Snapping Beans" by Lisa Parker demonstrates how not expressing your true feelings causes more pain then sharing the truth.
"Thank You, M'am" by Langston Hughes is a story about using kindness and connecting with someone to teach them a valuable lesson.
“Mindful” by Mary Oliver calls for us to recognize the beauty and wonder of things that we see everyday and questions how one can use these “common” things to grow wiser.
The poem “Snapping Beans” by Lisa Parker describes how a girl can overcome talking about how she is really feeling to her grandma about her life away at school.
“Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes tries to help people understand that nothing good can come from doing wrong, and in the stories case, it would have been much better to ask for help instead of acting wrongly.
Monday, November 17, 2008
The main point of Hughes' piece is the unexpected kindness of strangers, shown when Mrs. Jones took in the boy who attempted to steal money from her and fed him, cleaned him, and even gave him the $10 he tried to steal from her for new suede shoes.
Mary Oliver is trying to tell the reader about ordinary thought, by jumping around with both language (the random things she talks about) and her word/paragraph spacing and order.
Lisa Parker's poem is about inner turmoil--the girl from the poem does not fit in at school, or in the North for that matter, but when she goes home she cannot even bear telling her Grandmother about it which furthers her troubles.
In Mary Oliver’s poem “Mindful” the speaker sees beauty in nature and in the everyday-ordinary things that surround her.
Lisa Parker’s poem “Snapping Beans” shows how the relationship between a girl and her grandmother has changed after the young girl goes to off to college in the North.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
-Lisa Parker illustrates a speaker who has a rough time at school yet enjoying some of it; she truely wants to be home clearly shown by the way she describes everything so lovingly and with so much detail and care in the poem, "Snapping Beans."
-"Mindful," by Mary Oliver is a poem about appreciation of nature and everyday events, a poem that encourages the reader to realise how incredible simple things are and attempt to learn from them.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
-In “Thank You, Ma’am” the short story by Langston’s Hughes, there is a love and a comrade between Mrs. Luella Bates and Roger because of the similar childhood they’ve had.
-In the poem “Mindful” by Mary Oliver, the speaker seems excited and is truly thinking about everything that is going on around her.
-The poem “Snapping Beans” by Lisa Parker expresses the thought of humans understanding each other’s worlds without words.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The three college students seemed like typical young Americans. They travel to Africa to record what they find, so the can share just “how bad it is” with the western world from which they came. Their travel experience is limited, and when they depart form the airports, their moms are very emotional. This emotion, however, is nothing compared to what they will soon experience.
Upon their arrival in Nairobi, Kenya, they meet Mama Sapora. She runs an orphanage of over 100 children who are homeless, mostly because of the AIDS epidemic. The situation in the orphanage is desperate; the children only eat once a day and they sleep four to a bed. Despite these conditions, the children seem to be happy, and Mama Sapora shows us their favorite activity, dancing. To them, dancing is a joyous activity that brings hope and happiness to their lives. These children, however, have it much better than those who the three college students soon discover.
Leaving Kenya, they travel to Sudan where they plan on discovery the tragic scenes of war. However, the Sudan is practically empty, because all of the refugees have fled from the warlords. To find the people, the college students travel to Uganda, where the majority of the Sudanese refugees live. Upon their arrival, they meet a women named Jolly Okot. She tells them that they must drive into the city to find their story, and that it is dangerous to stay in the bush, where the LRA (The group trying to overthrow the Ugandan government). Soon we see why Jolly Okot is right.
The college students drive into the city, Gulu, and quickly find their story. Thousands of children are sleeping in the city, under verandas and in the bus depot. They have no parents, no clothes, no food. Their story is absolutely tragic. They live in fear of being abducted by the LRA, who needs to fill the ranks of their army with young children who they can brainwash into ruthless killers. If the children stay in the towns, the LRA will come at night and take them, so that is why they stay in the city.
The children live in a constant state of fear. They will not cry, because then a LRA soldier might kill them for expressing emotion. If they were to stay in their towns, far out in the bush, then they would surely be abducted, and either killed, raped, or if fortunate brainwashed into the army. In the army, they witness killing and butchering that psychologically makes them killers.
This documentary shows the tragic lives that these children must endure. Although they are in high spirits, a moment in the documentary shows us the impact that this tragedy has created. While interviewing a young boy, who before told us he would never cry, he begins to talk about one day meeting his dead brother in heaven, and suddenly the emotion he has held back so well finally gushes forward. At this point in the documentary, The audience cries too, knowing that the hardships these children endure are senseless and that something must be done.
This documentary, although sad and tragic, is powerful. Before watching this, I had no idea of these living conditions. It is sad that western society ignores tragedies such as this, but at the same time, we now see that something must be done. Not only talking about it, but analyzing and sharing thoughts will help our society do something to help their society. Above all, we must not forget what is happening in Africa, and we must take action.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Today in McGuire Hall Loyola College hosted its annual Non-Profit and Community Service Career Fair where they continued to showcase how important service is to our school and the Jesuit ideals. The event showcased over thirty-five organizations promoting full-time community service as a great career move and an as option where you can benefit from the learning experience to help further your career preparation. The student turnout along with the countless number of tables loaded with brochures provided plenty reason to believe the Jesuit tradition is being continued at this institution. Each table was manned by an eager representative to explain the joys that come from their work with the less privileged community. This same joy was evident in the reading of “Serving Up Hope” in the Baltimore Sun. The story is one of reconciliation and rebirth where recovering drugs and alcohol addicts. Both Loyola’s Service Fair and the excerpt from the Baltimore Sun shed light on the importance of community aid and how significant a helping hand can be.
As I weaved throughout the students and all the organization’s tables, I realized how important it was to get involved and why Loyola prides itself on its ability to offer these programs. The first table I approached was the March of Dimes organization where I was immediately bombarded with various brochures and a lengthy discussion regarding the program from the representative. This organization dealt with the fight to save babies and help aid the problems associated with their birth. With this service group a person has multiple ways to get involved and aid those in need. For instance the March of Dimes offers a program where graduates can participate in three areas: program services, fundraising or administrative support. Each area allows the participant to engage in this remarkable organization and provide a helping hand along the way. Shortly after my discussion concluded with the representative I continued to browse the fair. The next program I stumbled upon was a truly inspirational organization called Operation Teach. The representative described the program as a strong alternative to just trying to get a job as a teacher, while participant’s aid and gain valuable teaching experience. After two years teaching at a Catholic elementary or secondary school while being given medical benefits and housing, graduates receive their Master of the Arts in Teaching from the College of Notre Dame. This is a truly fantastic program for any prospective teachers, where they gain priceless experience teaching and aid in the community by providing the greatest gift of all, education. This program’s idea parallels exactly what Bridget and Galen Sampson depict the article “Serving Up Hope”.
Much like what is asked in the Operation Teach program, the Sampson’s sacrificed for the community in hope to better our world. The program they started, similar to Operation Teach, is called Chefs in the Making where they offer opportunistic jobs in the culinary arts to recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Galen Sampson gave up his job as a five star chef to help aid the community through his new “Dogwood Deli”. He said, “I’ve always wanted to give back. I’ve been searching for a way to apply myself and my skills to make the most difference.” His selflessness is exactly what the world needs and why Loyola pushes these service opportunities so hard. To take your strengths and use them to better others is truly what service is all about, and the Sampson’s contribution to the Baltimore community should be commended. But then again that’s not why Sampson started up the program to begin with.
Between the fair and the reading I’ve come to the realization of how important service to the community is and why I need to go out and help. That is why Loyola and the Sampson’s present these opportunities and that’s what makes our community a better place to live.
When we compare this lifestyle to our own, it is almost disgusting to think about the things people complain about. We get angry if we don’t have good food, or if our pillows aren’t soft enough or even if we feel it is difficult to live with a roommate so close. At the same time that we complain these children are living with little or no food, sleeping on concrete floors in hiding places, and sleeping in rooms with an unlimited number of other people. They practically pile into the hospitals simply to have a safe place to sleep. The mental state of all of the children has been strongly affected. Many are violent and act out, while others are scarred by the death of a family member. One child was quoted saying, “I have headaches if I don’t see blood.” The young children who are abducted are brainwashed and transformed into vicious, heartless murderers. It is unbelievable to think that children between the ages of 5 and 12 are being taken to sneak into schools and steal other children; especially because here that is the happiest age you can see a child. This is when they are carefree and don’t have to worry about the stress of a difficult life.
The movie had a very strong impact on me, I can honestly say that it was one of the most depressing things I have ever seen and I am interested in doing something to help. It opened my eyes up to a world of loss and sadness. Although the poem is not nearly as heart wrenching, Phillis Levin’s poem End of April can relate to this movie. An egg represents life, but one that has fallen may represent death or loss. “What had been there/is gone now/ and lives is my heart,” these lines lead the reader to believe that whatever was in the egg has died in the fall from the nest or has hatched and gone away. This is closely related to the young children in Africa. Like the animal that was once in the egg, they seem invisible, they disappear without anyone knowing where they are or what happened to them. It is terribly sad to think that children can just go missing and be taken like that. So many children in Africa go unseen while the youth of America are cherished and flourish. The loss demonstrated in the poem also relates to the loss of two young boys in the film. One of their brothers was killed by the rebels in Africa and it has had an incredibly strong impact on the boys. The way the animal from the shell “opens up its wings,/ tearing me apart,” is similar to the boy’s feelings about their brother.
He is gone and they know they will never have him back. There was a scene of one of the boys sobbing thinking about his brother, and you can tell that this truly is tearing him apart. The more moving part of the scene is where he says that he would rather die than live on this earth because he of how bad it is. The young boy exclaimed that he missed his brother, but he did not wish he was here, because it will be better when they meet in an afterlife.
This film also relates to the article in the Baltimore Sun, where convicts and drug addicts are given another shot to sort themselves out and carry on a regular life after serving their sentences. This shows us how important it is to give people a chance and always give them hope. It is so important that we do something to help these young children, the way Galen Sampson helped out. Something needs to be done to give these children hope and save them from becoming an empty broken shell.
They gave the UNITE participants, simple, yet brutally honest advice. Lee shared his stories about living in the fast lane, but now all he wants to do is be a role model for his son. People are allowed to make mistakes, and flaws are what makes us human. Jeff and Lee have taken responsibility of their actions, and now they are taking the necessary effort to turn over a new leaf. They are not hopeless cases, but instead they are actually filled with love and hope for everyone around them. Earlier that night before they shared their personal stories, we played a game of Pictionary with a bunch of the FOH men. Jeff and Lee were probably the most enthusiastic players of the night, and especially after hearing them speak I appreciated who they are as fellow human beings. Their life journeys are incredible, and they give me hope that the city of Baltimore has a lot of heart and potential. Just like Jeff and Lee never give up, even in the times of darkest shame, the city of Baltimore will also continue to rise up.
In the short story “B. Traven is Alive and Well Cuernavaca”, by Rudolfo Anaya, the narrator takes a trip to Mexico and encounters amazing characters. Just like when I traveled to Baltimore, and I found Jeff and Lee, The narrator is a writer and he also discovers many things. The character that stood out to me the most was Justino. Throughout the story, there are so many details about his incredible personality. He has a lot of love to share and is very adventurous. Justino is even able to convince the narrator to go on a journey with him. Justino is happy, full of song and wonder, and even though UNITE, happened a while ago, after I read the story I immediately remembered the men from FOH. The image of them playing Pictionary, and the fact that they were willing to start over for their families and friends, reminded me right away of Justino. Even the old man at the end of the story, describes Justino as “the source of life.” Although Jeff and Lee have made mistakes, right now they are sources of life for Baltimore. Lee is also a source of life for his son.
Phillis Levin’s “End of April”, also had a striking resemblance to the men we met at FOH. Although the end of the poem tends to deal with death, the beginning of the poem really reminded me of Jeff and Lee. “I found a robin’s egg,/ broken, but not shattered.” Jeff and Lee did find themselves into a dangerous world, and their spirit was broken, but at the same time is not shattered. Jeff and Lee are able to continue to tell their stories. They are trying so hard to get better, get a new job and start up a new life. Unfortunately in the poem the egg’s contents is gone, but nonetheless, the spirit lives on in the speaker. Even if Jeff and Lee did use drugs at one point and did damage a part of their life, they are not completely gone.
Finally the Baltimore Sun Article Serving up Hope, directly relates to Jeff and Lee. Just like the Sampsons are using their business and cooking skills to help former drug addicts, the FOH group works in the same way. The FOH gives men transitional housing and helps them get a job. The men are given a second chance and are not looked down upon. They are not babysat, and they actually live by themselves. This is exactly how the Sampson couple, gives people a second chance to work at their deli, without discrimination.
Invisible Children: Discover the Unseen
Documentary shown on 11/11/08 in the Reading Room
Filmed in 2003 by three Southern California students, Invisible Children is a documentary about the struggles facing the children of northern Uganda. The three filmmakers originally set out into the Sadan to find a story they could present to their family and friends back home but what they found were hundreds of thousands of both adults and children living in fear of the rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Known for their unjustified brutality and complete lack of mercy, the LRA has waged a 23 yearlong war against the government of Uganda that began with an image a woman named Alice Lakwena claimed to have received from the Holy Spirit telling her to overthrow the government. What began as a religious movement began to turn violent as the tension between what was then known as the Holy Spirit Movement and the government began to rise. All hell broke loose after Lakwena was exiled and the movement was left leaderless. Taking control of the movement, Lakwena “cousin,” Joeseph Kony took control and turned Lakwena’s small army into the violent LRA. This transformation cost Kony many of the original movement’s followers do to the new extremist views being pushed forward, forcing Kony and his remaining follows to turn to the abduction of children to fill the army ranks. It is this fear of abduction and the horror that follows that has most of Uganda’s children living in fear. It is believed that over 90% of the LRA’s troops were abducted as children and subjected to the severe denaturing and desensitizing practices of the army. Those who are abducted are trained to kill at a young age and are severely beaten. Those who are lucky to survive the daily raids of the various towns and villages are never the same again in the hands of the LRA. These children, whose ages range from 5 – 12, are brought face to face with death and violence and are practically brainwashed into doing the LRA’s bidding. A lady interviewed in the documentary quoted one of the LRA child troopers saying, “Look, I have headache if I don’t see blood.” While the adults of the country pressure the US government to put more pressure on the government of Uganda to take action, the children praise God just for getting them through the day and safely into one of the shelters in the larger towns to keep them safe. Living in constant fear of Joseph (as Kony is called) and forced to leave their homes to seek safety, the children still find ways to embrace not only their youth but life as well. They remain resilient to the LRA and the impoverish conditions they live in, and continue to laugh, play and dance despite fear that weighs heavy on their hearts. Those many children who have left their families to seek shelter in the various damp basements of buildings in town have found new families amongst one another. They make the best of their situation and remain patient as they wait for the government to open their eyes to these suffering children who have been overlooked and have become almost invisible.
Though dealing with two very separate situations, both the documentary and Stephanie Shapiro’s article “Serving Up Hope,” convey the same message: one of hope.
For both the children of Uganda and the drug addicts and convicts taken in by Galen Sampson, it is the hope for a brighter and better future that pushes life forward. Those employed by the Dogwood Deli are given a second chance to live just lives, while the children sit and wait for their first at living lives without fear. For both groups staying positive is the first step. It is this hope that drives life forward and can potentially brighten the present but outside help is also needed which is were we are given the opportunity to step up and help make a difference. We can no longer stand idly by waiting for things to simply work themselves out. In the same way that Sampson stepped up to help out those in need in Hampden, we must also do to help the children in need in Uganda. The opportunity is there; it is only waiting for us to answer its call.
To find out more information about how to help visit:
When I went to volunteer I was really anxious to help serve the surrounding families in my own neighborhood in Baltimore. I volunteered among 5 other Loyola students to help fill grocery bags for the families to come pick them up. Every Saturday, once a week, people in need will come to CARES and stand in line for hours to receive food to feed their families for the following week. I felt really good helping to serve these families who don’t have money to buy any groceries for themselves. We packed groceries for about two hours. It was amazing to see how much food is donated to CARES. I was really happy to see that so many people donated so much to feed the people in Baltimore. It was also interesting to see how residents in the neighborhood as well as Loyola students go to CARES to volunteer on their own. CARES needs all the help it can get, and I was glad to be a part of it last weekend. After packing groceries, I helped the visitors with job searching. I had done volunteer work before, but had never really socialized with the residents as much as I did on Saturday. I realized how lucky I was to be a part of my family; a family with parents who can provide many things for their children and have steady jobs. I sympathized with the Baltimore residents who did not have any jobs, or jobs that barely paid anything.
“End of April,” by Phillis Levin, “Serving Up Hope,” by Stephanie Shapiro, and “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” by Rudolfo A. Anaya, all relate to my experience and service at CARES. In “End of April,” is a metaphorical poem concerning broken robin’s egg. The poem suggests that the speaker is reminiscing on a lover, friend, or family member who has past. The poem teaches the reader to appreciate what they have and be thankful for everything, because at any point it can be taken from us. The people who go to CARES have lost a lot of what they had and can barely find the means to survive. As a volunteer there, I was able to really appreciate the things that I have now. The second reading, “Serving Up Hope,” concerns a family-owned business that takes in people who have troubled lives, and teaches tries to guide them away from bad habits through cooking. “We want to make sure that their health, their social environment, their financial situation, their family situation, legal situation, their mental and psychological situations are all in order, while teaching them how to become chefs” (Howard Wicker in Serving Up Hope). The goal of CARES is to also help their clients become financially stable and to help them with difficult situations. The last reading, “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” we read about a man who goes to Mexico to write about the mystery of an author B. Tavern. Throughout the story, the speaker befriends a man named Justino. This character Justino reminds me of the volunteers who work at CARES. He is a man that seeks wealth and happiness, but only to share it with his friends and family. He is not selfish about anything, and his main purpose is only to make those who are with him happy. The volunteers at CARES and those who donate are always looking for ways to share more with a community that has so less. No one is selfish, and they only want to build up others’ lives and make everyone stable and content.
What began as a simple childish argument over who was smarter than who, turned out to be a heart wrenching physical fight between two eight year olds about their dads not being around and mothers doing drugs etc. I felt bad that I could not stop Kiana and Zonnie from fighting, the two children I tutor, but the principal and other administrative staff jumped in when they physically started pushing one another. They went back and forth several times calling each other stupid in which stopped by me telling them to knock it off. Then it escalated by Kiana calling Zonnie stupid because his mother was stupid and had too many children. Then he responded with “at least my mom isn’t always drunk.” Which then continued by Kiana telling him that at least she had two parents, and it continued on and on, and no matter what I said they would not stop. They ended up pushing each other onto the floor and people had to split them apart.
What surprised me was that they are the nicest kids in the room and delightful to see every week. This is what made me think that this fight was not so much between the two of them, as it was towards their anger towards their parents. Coming from an upper class family in a white suburban town no one experienced things as these two children were fighting about. An occasional divorce was rarely heard of, and hearing Zonnie and Kiana talk about such things at their ages made me want to somehow give them a better life, as Galen Sampson did in the Baltimore Sun article. Unfortunately I’m in college and could never make that big of an impact on any children’s life, but I wanted to so bad. To be so angry at the world that your dad left you or your mom was a drunk stunned me, especially because they are only eight years old.
Jesuit education seemed like just some old fashioned guidelines at the beginning of college. Yet the more and more I get out into the world and see what is going on, I have this drive to want to make things better. A couple years ago I would have told you a man like Galen Sampson was crazy for not making a better living and enjoying himself. Now I can see though what is important to him, because once you see how much little things can help, it’s almost like it is your duty. Drugs and alcohol are terrible addictions and what he is doing is changing these people, their families, and anyone else in their lives. Although the short story and poem we read does not relate to my experience, the Baltimore Sun’s article makes up for it and really drives home the point that I am trying to make with volunteering and how something so little can effect someone so much. I cannot even imagine how bad other children have it, it makes me appreciate everything my parent’s have done for me when I experience events like I did last week. Hopefully more people and the Loyola community can make a change in people’s lives, because it seems as though a lot of people need it.