Service & Justice Trips Archive

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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.

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Communicating Compassion

group picDuring this past Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to go to Bethphage Village in Axtell, NE. Through this experience, I got the opportunity to get to know individuals living with intellectual disabilities. I came into this trip with little knowledge of intellectual disabilities and the struggles that these members of our society are facing. Admittedly, I was very awkward the first day I was with the residents. Because many of the residents could not verbally speak, I was at a loss for how to communicate with them.

This began to change after I met a man I’ll call Ethan. From the moment I met him, it was clear what a joyful spirit he has. Every day when I would walk into the room, Ethan would get the most enormous smile on his face and stretch out his hand towards me. I spent most mornings and afternoons simply holding his hand or letting him lean his head on my shoulder. As the days progressed, I found myself verbally speaking less and less when I was around Ethan. I quit trying to fill the silence with my own form of communication. Instead, I allowed myself to adopt Ethan’s communication of a wide smile and a gentle touch.

During my time spent with Ethan, he gave me more than I could ever hope to give him. He taught me that all of us want to be understood, regardless of the means we have to convey ourselves. We all have a deep yearning for compassion and community that can only be found in the presence of others. It is what connects us all on a much deeper level than speech can. It is what gives our lives meaning. It is what makes us human.

Hannah Mullally
Class of 2016
College of Arts & Sciences
SBSJT 2014 Trip Coordinator

 

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.

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Simply Living in a not so Simple World

nanny resume picture
Imagine spending a week in a place you have never been, with people you don’t know without your phone or laptop. In a world that is constantly connected, it is somewhat liberating but also terrifying to be socially detached. When I went on my spring break service trip with the CCSJ, I experienced this social isolation. Although it was frightening at first, I quickly realized it was a great opportunity to live vulnerably. I believe that vulnerability fosters enormous growth because it forces one to take risks and experience new things. I am thankful I had the opportunity to leave my phone behind and experience Detroit, Michigan unplugged, off-line and disconnected.

While in Detroit, myself and five other Creighton students stayed with the Daughters of Charity. These women were such gracious hosts and I learned so much about love and selflessness through their hospitality. They welcomed us with open arms each night as we had dinner with one another. This was a special time for the sisters because it was the time of day in which everyone was home. During the day, each sister went out to serve in different ministries throughout Detroit. We visited several of their ministries and helped when we were able to be of assistance in the soup kitchen, Catholic grade school and Covenant House which housed homeless 18-22 year olds.

Living with the Daughters of Charity for a week was a great opportunity to live in solidarity. Each night after dinner we would watch the news with the sisters. Each of the sisters had their own craft they liked to do while sitting together in the living room. My group and I actually learned to crochet on our trip thanks to one of our group members who taught us all. This was a special way that we joined the sisters to work on our crochet while we sat with them after dinner. Although there was a considerable difference in our ages and interests, watching the news was a simple way for us and the sisters to come together and be in each other’s presence.

Although sitting and watching the news while crafting seems insignificant, this experience taught me to be present to the people I am with instead of constantly being concerned with my phone and things happening elsewhere. Living in solidarity with the sisters allowed me to appreciate the simple lifestyle they lived and how they cared selflessly for each other through small acts of kindness; clearing other peoples’ plates from the table, serving dessert to others before themselves and simply offering up one’s chair for the comfort of another were just a few acts of kindness these sisters constantly did for one another. It was a privilege to meet these examples of humility and experience solidarity I would have been deprived of had I been consumed with the pettiness of my phone. There is a world happening right before our eyes filled with people to meet and experiences to be had. However, sometimes our phones and laptop screens get in the way. Close your laptop and put down your phone. Look around you. There is beauty to be found even in the most simplest of things.

Steph Sehon
Class of 2017
College of Nursing
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.

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Ministry of Presence with Homeless Guests in New Mexico: Spring Break 2014

Albuquerque, NM – St. Martin’s Hospitality Center
Ministry of presence with homeless guests in New Mexico

Students will be interacting daily with men and women experiencing homelessness. There will be meetings with those who work on behalf of the poor. Students will spend their days talking with and spending time with shelter guests. This will help students understand poverty, injustice, and suffering in the area. St. Martin’s Hospitality Center is a day shelter that serves 250-300 clients daily. We provide showers, clothing, storage, and a hot breakfast every day. In addition we have a full range of behavioral services, case management, job development, and client advocacy. Students will have the opportunity to visit Art Street, a local studio which is open to St. Martin’s clients.
Relevant Websites: St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, National Coalition for the Homeless, US Conference of Catholic Bishops Economic Justice

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Mosaic Bethphage Village: Spring Break 2014

Axtell, Nebraska – Mosaic Bethphage Village

Many of the over 100 persons who live at Bethphage Village in our service have multiple disabilities and therefore are some of society’s most vulnerable. Individuals live in group home settings and the feel of community is palpable. The students will have the opportunity to get to know a wide variety of personalities and backgrounds. Life is both robust and reflective in the Village. People are celebrated and compassionately cared for. Participants will have an opportunity to build relationships with those at the Village through visits, tutoring, playing with children, and the elderly. They will also engage the often hidden civil rights issues faced by those with special needs. Time at Bethphage Village will sensitize students and inspire them to offer a “voice” for those whose voice is often not heard.

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White Rose Catholic Worker: Spring Break 2014

Chicago, IL – White Rose Catholic Worker House
The White Rose Catholic Worker serves in a number of different communities locally, nationally, and internationally. Each day of the week volunteers take on a different issue of social concern and explore the alternatives that they are organizing for and living in the house including environmental sustainability, torture & war/nonviolence, capitalism/green economics, and poverty/hospitality. There will be a series of educational and hands on experiences for each one. The White Rose Catholic Worker also has a farm, where students will stay at during their trip, and participants will help with general farm tasks – harvesting and planting – and learn how to live in a land and craft based society.

Relevant Websites: Catholic Worker Movement

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