Who, What, Where, When, Why?

Iwa Chanthavong Photo
Upon arriving in Minneapolis for my first Service trip experience, I was overwhelmed with thoughts, emotions, and most of all – QUESTIONS. Who am I going to meet? What will our host site look like? And, I have to confess, how am I going to survive without my phone and makeup?! Throughout the week these questions were slowly answered, but what I did not initially realize was that the questions that truly mattered were the ones that could not be so easily solved. They were the ones that stemmed from the people I met, the conversations I had, and the amazing stories I heard.

One evening in particular brought these important questions to mind. Immigration was the focus of the evening, and I honestly did not think that immigration would be a part of our trip. However, it ended up being one of the most impactful topics I encountered during the service trip. On that evening, a few brave women opened their hearts to us and shared their immigration stories. These women immigrated to the US in hopes for better job opportunities and decent living conditions. As immigrants in the US they work hard, long days for low wages. In addition, their constant fear of being deported or caught keeps them from living in peace. One woman, for example, had to leave her son behind in Mexico and has not seen him in years – she told us all she wanted was to be able to see her son and hug him. Another woman and her husband put their faith in a lawyer who told them he would help them gain legal documentation, but he ended up stealing all of their savings and forced them to start all over again.

As a result of these stories and the discussion afterward, my mind exploded with questions. Why are living conditions in Mexico the way they are? Why are immigration laws the way they are? What can I do to create justice for these women and for others who share similar stories? How can I take these stories from Minneapolis to Omaha, apply them to my own community, and make an impact on those around me? My service trip taught me three important things. First, the most important questions are the ones that are the hardest to answer. Second, asking tough questions like the ones above should come hand-in-hand with doing service. And finally, even though the questions may remain unanswered, it is important that I take them with me wherever I go. The questions above have traveled back to Omaha with me, and I know that they will motivate me to find answers and create justice for immigrants.

Iwa Chanthavong
Class of 2015
Heider College of Business
SBSJT 2014 Trip Participant



The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.