Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Healthy Challenge

Last Wednesday I visited the Don Miller House, which is located just down the street from Loyola. When I walked inside I felt like I was given no direction or structure. Fortunately I formed an instant bond with Dede, one of the residents. Most of the time I was at the house, we played a game of “Baltimore in a Box”, which is essentially Monopoly Baltimore style. As I mentioned earlier when I first walked in Dede was very excited that I was visiting her. She told me that she loved me and I was just so thrilled that the next semester would be an easy bonding experience. This however changed as we started playing the board game. Dede became very fed up with me, and was not pleased with my Monopoly skills. Her disgust with me, continued as we played card games I never played before.
As I was sitting there I smiled to myself, because I was excited for the challenge. Sometimes the easy way out does not give you the most fulfilling experience. At Loyola, my Jesuit education, especially my service experiences, have already taught me some of these ideas. It is necessary to broaden your horizons and try something new. For me volunteering at a house with residence suffering from HIV and AIDS was already stretching my limits, because it was something I was never exposed to. Now that Dede was not someone I could easily reach to, I could tell that my work here was significant.
In the Kolvenbach article, it is evident that challenging yourself and society is an important Jesuit mission. “Only a substantive justice can bring about the kinds of structural and attitudinal changes that are needed to uproot those sinful oppressive injustices that are a scandal against humanity and God”. This quotation spoke to me in the passage, because everyone is guilty of having certain prejudices. It is not always a very negative thing, but usually just some ignorance. Unless you are exposed to it, you cannot begin to break down the barriers that divide us from the injustices that face the world. Although walking into the Don Miller House might have been slightly uncomfortable I cannot live life without ever exiting my comfort zone. Other students and myself “must let the gritty reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering and engage it constructively”. Immersing students into the real world not only gives them memorable experiences but it teaches students to think. It promotes believing in equality for all and can help students make important decisions.
The Jesuit mission is all about whom students become. Engaging myself into these situations will help me to become a better human being. We are all human beings, and deserve justice. Unfortunately there are injustices everywhere, but it is not right to look away. You can look at this on a grand scale, or compare it to small situations. I could have been very discouraged with Dede, when she yelled at me, but instead I am taking it as a challenge. Again this is a very small example, but the ministry of presence is still significant. Although she seemed to be pushing away from me I knew that I was not supposed to pull back. Hopefully over the semester I will learn a lot about Dede and a lot about myself. Someone once told me that you cannot change the world, but you can change a part of someone’s world. My mission for service this semester is let Dede know I am not giving up on her. This is nothing special or great, but Kolvenbach’s article reinforces the idea of: men and women for others. Overall my first week at Don Miller House was a challenge, but it was a positive challenge that will help shape me into an intelligent, aware, and compassionate young woman.

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