Service & Justice Trips Archive

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Confessions of a Meataholic

Aaron PonceOne of my biggest passions is meat. I’ve found the sport of eating a tender slab of steak, or dining on a succulent chicken to be most riveting. Not once have my forefathers contemplated the significant impacts of the possibility of human existence without ample protein. It was sir William Shakespeare who made the profound statement, “A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age,”. So if I am to love meat, why beith the distress of our crops? Our community? A service trip on sustainability right at home in Omaha and Lincoln has answered the unspoken question that has long been hidden in my head. I love meat, but do I really need it?

Within a month, we probably encounter enough waste to fill a building. It’s become an undeniable truth that waste is simply everywhere. Culture has taught us to mass produce and take on efficiency and profit over sustainability and renewable sources. But we transported ourselves to Shadow Brook Farm in Lincoln, and we experience life on the farm side with the Loth family. Their organic farm had a major emphasis on concepts of sustainability. Waste was kept to a bare minimum, and you would be surprised with what you think would be waste, could be food for a new crop of plants, or could be recycled into a new tool or decoration.

Now comes the meat. On our service trip, we decided to go VEGETARIAN. That’s right, no meat, for five days. Sustainability advocates for vegetation, as the amount of energy we acquire from meat requires a lot more energy input, than acquiring the same energy from a plant. Animals require food (plants), water, and maintenance. A plant only requires water, good soil (unless you have an aquaponic system), and sunshine. Plants are simple, and surprisingly, quite delicious. Not once on the service trip have I had a dream of lambs jumping over the fence, turning into a lamb chop, and falling into my mouth. In fact, I would be confident to say that the change in diet left me feeling more fresh and clean than usual. Harvesting energy from plants and other products instead of meat is definitely much more simple and renewable for the community and healthy for the individual. The people in my group actually became closer to each other, and the community by embracing vegetarianism. We worked together to create all vegetarian dishes that were still very delicious.

My meat cravings after the trip did not subside, however, coming back, I now know that vegetarianism is not really for eccentric hippies or tree huggers. Vegetarianism is for everyone. Working more vegetables like beans, fruits and leafy plants into a diet, and cutting back on the meat, will still keep you nutritionally sound, and not starved for life of meat. The key is in balance. I don’t need to splurge on meat, a diet with a healthy balance is perfect. I still indulge on a moist steak, but throw me some carrots, potatoes, and a salad, and I couldn’t be any happier.

Aaron Ponce
Class of 2017
College of Arts and Sciences

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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Remembering the Border

El Paso Spring Break Service & Justice Trip at the top of Mt. Cristo Rey.

El Paso Spring Break Service & Justice Trip at the top of Mt. Cristo Rey.

My alarm buzzes, I roll out of bed, stretch as my feet hit the floor and I open the shades. Sunshine and a pang of longing greet me. I flash back to a memory already four weeks old: Waking up in sunny El Paso, TX.

Four weeks after my Spring Break Service & Justice Trip in El Paso for a border immersion, it’s not the personal stories I’d heard from migrants and those who work with migrants, it’s not the three hour hike up and down Mt. Cristo Rey, during which I participated in a Migrant’s Stations of the Cross, and it’s not the desert meditation I had at the border that I think of first.

Instead, what my heart aches for most each morning that I wake up these first weeks back is the simple yet powerful setting in which all these experiences took place.

Each morning in El Paso I’d wake up in a rather barren, chilly bedroom in the Columban Mission Center—the Columbans, a Catholic religious order comprised of both priests and religious sisters, emphasized simplicity in their sparse living conditions as well as sustainability in the limited heating and cooling energy sources they use. I’d rise, say a quick prayer of thanks for a new day and look out the window at the sun rising over the Segundo Barrio, the “Second Neighborhood.”

The Segundo Barrio is a mix of modest houses, industrial buildings, run-down shops, palm trees and desert. The border is within walking distance of the Columban Mission Center. Churches and Mexican grocery stores fill the streets downtown, which always seems cluttered with people and street vendors all rushing in different directions. The International Bridge stretching between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico is perpetually backed-up with eager families trying to reach each other from both sides.

The Segundo Barrio was the setting for a week that profoundly affected me in ways I am just beginning to understand.

A migrant woman cooked my group dinner and shared a harrowing tale of how she had to flee Juarez for her life and the safety of her family.

 A young man pursuing a social work degree at the University of Texas in El Paso shared his passion for, and the pain involved in, working with unaccompanied minors who cross the border.

An older man committed to social justice rallied my group and challenged us as he talked about the work he does with Annunciation House—a migrant shelter across from the Columban Mission Center. This man, Reuben, showed us the ways we unwittingly contribute to a system that oppresses migrants.

On our last day in El Paso, my group met and played with a large number of migrant children from Annunciation House for over an hour. In the melee of beautiful sunshine, shrieks of joy and laughter, and children running in every direction, we realized just how connected we are to each other, that we are all brothers and sisters yearning for love.

Nearly every moment that brought me to tears, filled me with anger, gave me sweet joy and set my heart on fire happened at the Columban Mission Center in the Segundo Barrio—or atop the mountains overlooking it all, overlooking two cities—El Paso and Juarez—that really function as one.

My week on the margin, living nearly up against the fence of the border, revealed stories and experiences of brokenness and courage, inspired me to love bigger and advocate for a more just and humane immigration system that keeps families together and provides safety for the most vulnerable.

Every morning I wake up, I think of El Paso, of the Segundo Barrio and the people I met and the experiences I had there. I feel El Paso on the warm, spring breeze, I see the people I met there in the faces of others here in Omaha, back at Creighton University, and I hear them asking me to remember it all.

Every time I open the shades here in Omaha, I’ll remember waking up and looking out the window at the Segundo Barrio, and I’ll carry the people and their stories in my heart as I pray for, and do as much as I can to contribute to, just immigration reform. The sand may be shaken from my shoes but the migrants’ stories will never be shaken from my heart.

Anna Ferguson
Class of 2015
College of Arts and Sciences
CCSJ Student 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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Soup Luncheon Pictures 2014

CCSJ, Creighton university, Luncheon, 2014
We had a wonderful Soup Luncheon Fundraiser on Valentine’s Day. Thank you to everyone who attended! The contributions from our event will help fund our Service and Justice Trips.

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Spring Break Service and Justice Trip Group Photos are Here!

Minneapolis SBSJT 2014 Group PhotosCheck out our wonderful SBSJT participants! We wish them luck as they prepare for their trips around the country from Albuquerque, NM to Detroit, MI.

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Spring Break Host Sites are Out!

Congrats to our Spring Break Service and Justice trip participants! See you at our first general meeting on Thursday at 9pm.Spring Break

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Being Simple isn’t Simple

Bridget Su CasaSimplicity was emphasized on my trip because of the simplistic practices we engaged in while we were at the Su Casa Catholic Worker House. The food supply for the house is provided solely by donations from community organizations that have food that they cannot sell. So during the week – along with living on less shower time, less connection to electronics, less make-up, fewer clothes – the group also ate food that was either out-of-date or damaged. I was struck by the way people can and do live on simple diets and how that is a way of simple living in which I could easily engage, in addition to the others. Even if I don’t eat damaged or out-of-date foods, downsizing my menu options to become a simpler, more ethical eater is something I can do.

I internalized simplicity on my trip by recognizing that the simple is not so simple. Our group confronted issues regarding hunger, violence, and immigration. When you initially meet someone with these struggles, you see a person who is hungry, who has lost a loved one to guns, who cannot gain legal status. But each person has policies, an event, a story that creates the situation he or she is in. Simplicity in the form of a simple existence – little money, few resources, little food, few electronic devices, no personal transportation – can really be a vision of a very complicated existence. And I think that is worth noting and taking into account whether you become a lawyer, a doctor, a business person, a teacher, an artist, or a politician. No person has total control of circumstances. No person is unaffected by the plight around them, even if they do not acknowledge it. Simplicity can be the facade under which complexity thrives.


Bridget Battafarano
Class of 2015
College of Arts and Sciences
Service and Justice Trips 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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