“Be who you are and be that well,” that was the motto of Saint Francis de Sales who was both the patron of the Visitation Sisters whom we worked with and of the Saint Jane House where we stayed on the trip. These were some of the first words that we heard when we were greeted by our host Brian. They served as a backdrop to the rest of our trip, the people we would meet, and the experiences we would have. Whether it was Constance or Linda from Death to Life, a group for grieving mothers who lost sons to gang violence, sitting with us and sharing their life stories, or the Visitation Sisters having us over for brunch and giving us wind socket pins to always be with us, or the Ballestos family who did not know us at all but came over to the Saint Jane House for dinner and shared more about their flight from Venezuela due to the current regime and mass poverty, or Brian who shared his life story of living a relative life of luxury and moving to the north Minneapolis neighborhood to serve others and assist community leaders with their work. All these people shared their pain, struggles, joys, and hopes with us, complete strangers, because they cannot help but be completely genuine as they all embody that quote.
We were in turn inspired to try to both learn who we were in ourselves and to be more genuine with each other as a group. There were various experiences on the trip, such as, working with students at Ascension Academy, working with the kids after school at Hospitality House, and working with the horses at the Mercy Reigns Ranch. Each experience helped us to explore these themes of self-realization and how to be genuine.
We brought all of this together at our nightly reflections where we would review our day, talk about how we felt or what we thought about our experiences, and talk about social issues that related to the experiences, from racial redlining or immigration. All of this helped bring us closer as a group and slowly transformed us from a group of relative strangers with a shared pension for trying help others to a small family with shared experiences of service and meeting amazing people. For me personally, I know that I know who I am a little better and am trying to be a lot more genuine in my interactions with others.
Class of 2021
The SCSJ 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 Schlegel Center for Service and Justice (SCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the SCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.