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.
With community service being such a large part of Loyola College, I often hear stories about someone helping out their community or even those outside of their community. So, it is no wonder there is a Justice Club at Loyola who wants to aid the children of Uganda. The members of the group, along with the makers of "Invisible Children" hope to do as much as possible to help. This concept connects with the Baltimore Sun article "Serving Up Hope." The article tells the story of Galen and Bridget Sampson, a couple who opened a restaurant that hires former felons and drug users. The purpose is to help these men and women transition back into society without judging them. This is their way of giving back to their community, just as the filmmakers and Loyola students want to give their time and effort to the children in Uganda. In both instances, each person is selflessly helping those in serious need.
In the poem "End of April" by Phillis Levin, the speaker talks about someone no longer in their life and the absence of them breaks their heart. This same message was portrayed in the film many times. One particular example is when one of the filmmakers was interviewing a boy, Jacob, who had lost his brother to the rebel forces. The filmmaker asked him if he could see his brother one more time, what would he tell him. Jacob begins to speak, and then just breaks down in tears. It is evident from his raw emotion that the loss of his brother has given him such a heartbreak. The memory of his brother continues to live in his heart, but it gives him a great sense of sadness to think of him.
This afternoon, I attended the Loyola College Non-profit and Community Service Fair. Over forty-five different organizations were present. Each table consisted of a different program, including teaching and helping children and families. All of the tables had a representative who actively participates in the organization and are passionate about it. This fair shows how committed Loyola College is to the Jesuit mission of service.
Every table was filled with brochures which included many different ways to get involved. Most tables were very versatile, appealing to students of different majors. I spoke to a representative for Teach for America whose major was political science but recently taught a history class in Baltimore. Many tables also emphasized post-graduate opportunities, however small service activities were offered.
Several tables caught my eye. The first table I stopped at was Jesuit Volunteer Corps. The representative recently finished a year of volunteering and strongly encouraged others to do it. This service programs offers several categories to participate in, including children services, senior services, education, health care, substance abuse, and many more. They are stationed all across the United States and require one or two years of service. They treat the service as a full time job, volunteers work forty hours a week and have two weeks of vacation time. This organization believes a year of service can make a world of difference.
Another table that I was interested in was The Children’s Home. This is a non-profit, charitable organization whose mission is to provide services to children who have experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, or are in need of supervised care. Their services are both short and long term and are provided to children of all races and religions who are eight to twenty-one years old. They want to build on the strengths of those served to promote success. The Children’s Home was established in 1863 and every year it tries to expand, by improving and adding new services.
The article “Serving up Hope” is about a deli, which is centered on the same Jesuit ideals as Loyola College. After receiving a $48,750 grant from the Baltimore Community Fellowship Program, Galen and Bridget Sampson started Dogwood Deli in 2006. They hire former drug users and convicts as a way to help them get back on their feet. Instead of them resorting to dead-end jobs at minimum wages, they fairly pay their employees to learn culinary skills. Galen Sampson is a chef who teaches them and after schooling they can work in the deli. He always wanted to make a difference by using his skills to help others. Two former drug users, Jennifer Brock and Tyrone Lewis, were offered jobs which helped them stay sober. They praise Galen and Bridget and are thankful for their jobs as well as the respect they receive.
Instead of Galen Sampson using his culinary talents to benefit himself by having a high paid job, he chooses to help others. Sampson follows the Jesuit mission of serving others by using his skills. The non-profit and community service fair focuses on the same mission. Every table offered job or service opportunities that are centered on using a college education to help others. The Sampson’s goal was to make a difference, which is the common goal between non-profit and community service organizations.
The Community Service fair was recommended to me by the CCSJ office because I have worked in local hospitals, for a non-profit organization at home. It helped to support patients that could not afford to stay for treatments or overnight visits. There were programs at the fair in the medical field just like the one at home, also in areas such as business and education. The people working at this fair today are just like the Sampsons. They each give time and passion to either fighting for a cause they believe in, or attempting to improve the community they live in. The Sampsons are also extraordinary examples of the lifestyle a Jesuit education Loyola teaches—by living for others. The article “Serving Up Hope” is just about that, Galen Simpson and how he changed his life and career to assist the drug addicts and convicts of his community. In the article Sampson says, “A lot of this has to do with my belief and my faith” Mr. Sampson and people working for non-profits spread values and ideals like these every day.
People like the Sampsons are most likely who; Phillis Levin speaks about in his poem “End of April”. I think that this poem is about loving everyone even if it hurts. The pain and suffering as well as the risks the Sampsons suffer helping the needy in their neighborhood is outweighed by the feeling when someone succeeds. And finally, in “B. Traven”, the character Justino is similar to a person that the Sampsons would try to help. Even though things didn’t work out for him, the Sampsons or even those working and giving time to non-profits have values that would encourage and support the start of a new life.
All three of the works for Wednesday’s class tied into my experience at Christopher Place. In B. Traven, the character Justino really reminded me a lot of the men that I had worked with. Anya describes him as someone who “would rather be a movie actor or an adventurer, a real free spirit…but things didn’t work out for him.” (p. 59). This was the feeling that I had gotten from a lot of men at the employment center. These men were really free spirited, loving to tell stories about childhood and joke with one another. I felt almost like while they were happy to be there, they would rather have been somewhere else. They, like Justino, have had things go wrong in their life and probably have gotten a few bad breaks. The great thing about these men is that they are working to better themselves and their situations by utilizing resources like the employment center. In End of April, I found another line that really made me think of the men at Christopher place. That line was “Broken, but not shattered” (line 3). This line really struck me, and tied into the point about Justino. These men really have fallen on hard times. They are a broken egg, but they simply refuse to stand by and let themselves become a shattered one. They will work to better themselves, hoping that one say they can become whole again. Lastly, the Baltimore Sun article probably tied in the best with Christopher place. “Serving Up Hope” is an article Galen Sampson, a chef who uses his deli to teach culinary skills to former convicts and drug addicts. The skills learned in the deli help them to secure jobs once they leave the program, and eventually help them to get back on their feet. I feel that Galen’s deli and Christopher Place are very similar organizations—they provide a positive atmosphere to help at-risk men to get their lives back in order. They provide for them the tools to help themselves in terms of obtaining a career, something that will help them stabilize their chaotic lives. I feel that by working in the employment center I am, like Galen, using my talents to help others better themselves. It is refreshing to see that people al around the city, and the country, are putting the Jesuit Ideals of cura personalis to work in an attempt to help the marginalized of our society.
On Monday November 10th, I, along with all of the athletes here at Loyola attended a lecture titled “Sex and Excess: Surviving the Party.” This very informative lecture was geared towards warning the athletes of behaviors and situations in which they would not want to be in, and especially since we are a representation of the school, we would not want to bring an undesirable name to the school. Along with this lecture, the readings for this week of “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca” a novel by Rudolfo A. Anaya, a poem “End of April” by Phillis Levin, and an article from the Baltimore Sun “Serving Up Hope” each contribute in their own way to this topic of sex and alcohol.
The lecture starting talking about one of the main things that goes on almost every college campus; alcohol abuse. The lecturer discussed about how dangerous it is at parties now because people just fill up their cups and they are not sure how much alcohol they are actually taking in. Without keeping track of how much you have been having, allows for someone to get “wasted instead of buzzed” as she said. What comes with being wasted is poor decision making along with a chance of receiving alcohol poisoning. We were warned of the horrible consequences that could come if we ignore the signs of alcohol poisoning in a friends and may leave them to die instead of making them sleep it off. The though of being responsible for such a thing made the entire crowd silent. Like in the poem “End of April” the author mentions in reference to the robin’s egg “What had been there/ is gone now/ and lives in my heart.” This could also be taking in reference to a friend who was with us and now because of alcohol poisoning now only resides in our hearts. This feeling would definitely be a horrid experience for anyone to go through and would be unbearable for most.
The next topic was about some of the sexual decisions we may make while under and no under the influence of alcohol. We were explained to how the first part of the brain to be affected by alcohol is the one that controls our judgment. The decisions we make under the influence of alcohol may not be the ones that we would make if we were sober, like having sex with someone randomly at a party. Another decision that may be affected is whether a condom is being worn while in the act, which is a much more important decision. You cannot be sure, for a guy, if the girl you are about to have sex with is on birth control, and for both people, you are not sure if the other person has some sort of sexual transmitted disease. Either of these, pregnancy or contracting an STD, could be detrimental to some person and affect them for the rest of their lives, with no second chance. Lucky, in the article “Serving Up Hope”, drug addicts Jennifer Brock and Tyrone Lewis were given a second chance with becoming part of the deli run by the Sampson’s. With the kindness and willingness of this family, Jennifer and Tyrone were not labeled because of their habit. Also, from the novel “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca” Justino was portrayed as someone how make these kinds of decisions because of being described as someone partying with alcohol and always with women at this side. It is interesting to wonder if the character is aware of all of the possible consequences that could come from mixing alcohol and sex.
Overall, the lecture was very informative and gave you a good scare to make such decisions if you were ever in a similar situation. The readings for this week also helped tie some of the ideas mentioned in the lecture together to really allow me to understand the point being made for the “Sex and Excess: Surviving the Party” lecture.
The article “Serving Up Hope” featured in the Baltimore Sun can strongly tie into Loyola’s Jesuit values on social service and justice in the community. “Serving Up Hope” is about a chef named Galen Sampson and his wife Bridgett that help former convicts and drug users get back on their feet and towards a positive career path. In order to do this, Galen teaches them his culinary skills so they can help him out in his deli, and provides a positive atmosphere and conditions for them to work in. The article states that Lewis, a 43-year old former drug addict, says that his meeting with the Sampsons gave him “the strength to enter rehab once again and stay clean.” This shows that the Sampson’s generosity to provide jobs for these men and women is really making a huge difference in their lives. In the article, Galen states, “‘I’ve always wanted to give back,’ says Sampson….‘I’ve always been searching for a way to apply myself and my skills to make the most difference.’” This is one of the Jesuit ideals here at Loyola College; using your skills and talents to make a difference in society and to help others who are in need. Diana Morris, director of the Open Society Institute in Baltimore, praises Galen and Bridgett for what they have done for these ex-convicts and drug addicts, and says that although he “could do millions of things wit his life,....this is exactly the kind of person we want to identify.” Rather than Galen using his recognizable culinary skills for his own personal benefit, he instead chooses to help those in need of getting their lives back on track.
Just like Galen and Bridgett do at their deli, the Non-Profit Community Service Career Fair helps students find jobs in their fields of study while simultaneously making a difference in their communities. Both Loyola College and the Sampsons have their strong commitment to social justice and passion for serving the community in common, as well as their ideals in using their skills and abilities to make a difference in a rapidly changing world.
My first half of the tour was with the bigger kids, when I first saw them, it was hard because some of them had feeding tubes through their noses or they were sitting on wheelchairs. Even though they have many physical problems, they always showed their happiness, they wanted to share with us and we had an incredible UNO game which never ended. When I started reading “Serving up hope” I was thinking the whole time that opportunity should be given to everyone. These kids have the power to do a lot of things, and therefore should have the opportunity to study and to fulfill their dreams. Even if they have certain disabilities they should have the hope that they can contribute to the society they are in. It will be harder for them, but they will teach not to take our own abilities for granted.
All the people that have all parts of their body are able to help people with disabilities, particularly kids. We should keep them in our hearts like Phillis Levin said hi his poem “End of April”; here the speaker says that he found someone and he keeps this person in his heart, and sometimes it hurts his heart, but he enjoys the company of this other person. Helping people with disabilities is not always easy; sometimes it is sad because we see suffering, especially in these little kids who are innocent, but it is rewarding to see them happy.
During the second half of my visit to the hospital, I saw the younger babies; they also have many physical disabilities. Most of them are visited by their parents every day, but some of them are not. It is rewarding to play with these kids and give them some company during the day, it is very important for them, because as kids everybody likes to play and just be happy; it is all part of the Jesuit education. These kids need stimulation and encouragement for their future and we can help them by dedicating some of our time on them, we can be helping them instead of just watching TV in our rooms. A mother of one of the girls was there playing with the little girl, I saw how sad she was that her daughter had disabilities, but when I heard her talking, she had the hope of making everything better for her little two month old girl. Parents always have a different point of view; they always have the hope that everything will be better for their kids.
As I finished my day at the hospital, I was happy that I could spend time with these kids and just have a fun day with them. By getting Jesuit education, we start realizing that learning not only takes place the classroom but everywhere, and with anybody. We can learn from kids as much as we learn from older people. It is just a matter of understanding what is important in life. Service should always be important because we should give back what society gives us.
Many of the non-profit career service fairs offered flexibility in when and where they would work and offer career services once the service has been fulfilled. For instance, the Dominican Volunteers of the USA was one table I stopped at. This program is a 10 month to a year long program in which participants live in Dominican communities of women and men catering to those who have been marginalized by society. Once the initial 10 month to a year service portion is up, participants may reapply for the program or recieve career placement in fields such as healthcare, social work, education, and immigration assistance. Many programs offer options like these, which should certainly help to persuade some people to engage in long term service. I believe that some people probably feel that progress in their chosen career will be hindered by taking a year (especially the couple years after college) to take part in non-profit, service oriented work, a fear that may be alleviated by service organizations` aibilities to provide participants with solid jobs.
The expansiveness of the Jesuit commitment to justice really dawned on me when I walked over to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) table and began looking through their literature. Their program is divided into five divisions: East, Midwest, South, Southwest, and International. Their national office, which happens to also be the office for the East region, is located right here in Baltimore at 801 St. Paul Street. According to Catholic Network of Volunteer Services` directory of volunteer opportunities, the goal of the JVC is to "offer men and women the opportunity to work full-time for justice and peace." Again, the word "opporunity" appears, prompting potential participants to decide whether or not they want to use thier career path to make a difference and whether or not this is the one for them. For Loyola students in particular, going to a Jesuit college leading in community service and justice and being right down the road from the national office of the JVC is a great chance to use what they learn in school to change society for the better.
One last thing about the Community Service Career Fair I noticed is how broad the range of service opportunites are. Some organizations tended to those who were marginalized by society in many aspects of their lives while others concentrated on specific areas of societal problems. For instance, the program Math for America DC obviously focuses on extending education, specifically mathematical skills, to those in the DC area. Still, other groups focus primarily on other things such as assimilation into society for immigrants, children growing up in abusive households, or recovering drugs or alcohol addicts. Our opportunity to take part in these programs mirrors the opportunity that is recieved by those who are positively affected by being helped by these organizations.
Although these organizations for community service as career paths are great, perhaps there is not one for everybody. This does not necessarily mean that they are unable to contribute to the betterment of society through their work. By experiencing the career fair as a whole, an overall message came across that gave me the idea that it doesn`t matter so much what you do as how you do it. For instance, obviously a lawyer can use his/her job to represent the more down and out members of society and try to help get them back on their feet or he/she can help represent the unethical company that put those people out of jobs. The message to do whatever you can with what you have to help make society a better place for everyone really resonated in McGuire Hall this morning.
Similarly, Galen Sampson used his abilities as a top chef to help make a difference. By scouring his resume, you can see that he has been to the top of the culinary ladder only to find that it stopped short somewhere for him. To quote the article, for Sampson "it was time to switch roles." Sampson realized that he had been given a gift and with it the opportunity to share that gift with the world. He credits his faith and belief in community as the reason why he decided to change his role in life. Once he made this shift, other aspects of his life began to fall into place, as he met and married his wife Bridget, who was also involved in community service as a career. Essentially, Galen Sampsen got and continues to recieve overwhelming compensation for his work, although probably not in a lucrative sense. He became more whole as a person as he attempted to revitalize a whole society through his work.
This idea of the whole person and a whole society echoes the Jesuit ideal of the seamless garment and preferential options for the poor and marginalized. No matter how we decide to make a living, we should attempt to stick as close as possible to these ideals. As demonstrated at the community service career fair, there a plenty of opportunities out there and as proven by Galen Sampsen, the most rewarding career can be any as long as it attempts to positively change society.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
For the event analysis this week I attended an adaptation directed by Mary Zimmerman of The Odyssey by Homer. After seeing The Odyssey adaptation, I read “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernaveca”; a short story by Rudoflo Anaya and “Serving up Hope”, an article in the Baltimore Sun. Both these articles reminded me of the adaptation I had seen; both shared components of The Odyssey. Rudoflo Anaya’s “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernaveca” shared the same kind of feeling The Odysseus had for adventure. The article in the Baltimore Sun “Serving up Hope” has the collective feeling of what it is like to have a kinship with your homeland, like Odysseus had with Ithaca. Both readings go through their own epic tales, with their own elements of The Odyssey; one with adventure and one with the appreciation of home.
The Odyssey itself is an epic poem about a man Odysseus trying to make it home after the Trojan War. (The account of the Trojan War can be found in the other epic poem by Homer; The Iliad.) Odysseus has a lot of set backs, many due to his disfavor with the God Poseidon. He encounters many different creatures in The Odyssey. Some of these creatures include a Cyclopes and a Sorceress. Odysseus is able to defeat this creature with the help of the God Athena. Finally, he makes it home back to Ithaca. After yet another trial with suitors who are taking claim over his land and his wife Penelope, he lives happily ever after in the land he loves.
Rudoflo Anaya’s “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernaveca” was about adventure as well. In the short story, the narrator is listening to who the reader is left to supposed is B. Traven and he says “A writer has to follow a story if it leads him to hell itself. That’s our curse. Ay, and each one of us knows our own private hell.” (65) Here B. Traven comments on the narrator’s adventure. He is not doing them for gold like the others would be, he his doing them to find his story. It is as though the narrator could be talking to Odysseus and not to the character of B. Traven. Odysseus also knows what it is to have adventure through the world and why a person does it. The Odyssey influenced this story and all adventures.
The Baltimore Sun’s article “Serving up Hope” does not talk about adventure far away from home, but is about making a difference where you are from. The Sampson’s have changed lives for many people by doing something that is natural to them. For them it was not until they came back from their adventures in life like Mr. Sampson’s work at a 5 star restaurant, that they realized what was home. Home to the Sampsons was opening up the Dogwood (a quite delicious deli) and helping those in need. Like Odysseus the Sampsons had to do other things before they could find their home. They had to go through trials and tribulations. Everyone has an Odyssey in there life; everyone must have a rocky adventure to find their way home.
An adaptation directed by Mary Zimmerman of The Odyssey by Homer, Rudoflo Anaya’s “B. Traven is Alive and Well in Cuernaveca”, and the Baltimore Sun “Serving up Hope” ,all have adventures in them that leads characters to find their homes. Without adventures the characters would not be able to find their place in the world.