The purpose of Service and Justice trips is to facilitate individual growth of the whole person. It is a fantastic exploration of the Jesuit values through action. The motivation that each person has for going on a service trip may or may not fall in line with this particular thought process. However, through the constant bombardment with inequity in society and subsequent reflection on it will lead anyone to see the need for work through service and education in justice. To be completely honest, I came to the SCSJ for the wrong reasons but was compelled by what I saw in Montgomery to be a more vocal advocate for change.
The Montgomery trip focused more on the justice aspect rather than service. That being said, the service that we provided for the Resurrection Catholic Community School was incredibly enlightening. We started by having a conversation with an incredibly motivated and exuberant principal. His story really stood out to me. He told us that as soon as he had started as the gym teacher, he fell in love with the community there. He started to do small odds and ends jobs like patching the roof and doing other maintenance work in the school. I thought to myself, “How many gym teachers are willing to go that far outside of their job description because they care about you and your school?” While he maintained his upbeat and positive attitude, he expressed his worries about funding due to the large amount of students that were there through state funding. He told us that there were only three remaining all-black, catholic institutions left in the entire state of Alabama. Two of which are likely to close their doors within the year. How someone can be faced with such a bleak situation and still stay true to their vocation with positivity is a lesson I will take with me. One of the teachers we met summarized it best when she said “nothing will get done if you’re negative all the time.”
I found this trip most difficult due to the conflicting feelings that it produced for me. On one hand, I found a passion for educating myself on the inequity in the world. On the other hand, I was faced with an impossible task. The inequality that we saw in Montgomery was disgusting and should be resolved, but there is nothing that a group of college students can do to solve it. I was at the point where it was easier to feel so apathetic and disillusioned because I knew that no matter what we did, no change would be directly visible to us. It wasn’t until we went to the EJI Memorial that I began to see that I was being selfish. It doesn’t matter if you are unable to see the payoff for work, just so long as the work you are doing is the right thing to do. Fighting for equality everywhere is the right thing to do. Yet another lesson that will stay with me for a long time.
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.