Professor Juniper Ellis
11 September 2013
Do you know what it feels like to know you are helping others in need? It is such a triumphant feeling to witness smiles on children’s faces and knowing I have made a difference in their lives. In high school, I took part in many community service activities. The service that impacted me most was when I set up a Christmas party, at my high school, for children battling cancer. Their faces lit up as we handed out gifts to them and played Christmas music as they ate the dinner we cooked. My experience was emotionally powerful because I had made a difference in these children's lives. They could take a break from the chemo and radiation and enjoy being a normal child, laughing and smiling with others. In Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," Jill McDonough's "Accident," Frances E.W. Harper's "Learning to Read," and Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach's "The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education," people united and help others no matter what skin color, gender, ethnicity, or class they were classified. Loyola provides its students with community service opportunities that many students take part in. I think that stressing the importance of community service on campus is a great way to attract students to help people in need.
At today's event, there was a speaker named Stephen Graham Jones. He described himself as a Native American. Jones read an excerpt from his book Discovering America. He mentions that when he lived in Florida, he met woman who said she had never seen an Indian before. Another time he mentioned that he got a ride from a truck driver and the truck driver asked him what kind of Indian he was. He replied by saying he is a Blackfeet Native American. The Texas man welcomed him with open arms. This encounter was evidence of the collide of two cultures and the acceptance and unity of them. Jones discussed why he wrote his book Zombie and helped the audience understand what he really meant by the word "zombie." "Zombies caution us to stay away from dead things, zombies express death," he said. It's the inner fear many have, they are caught up in something and don't see the importance in the world. Some have difficulty accepting others and their differences.
Different trees came together and become friends in Frost's "Mending Wall." Two different trees, one a pine tree and one an apple tree, are separated by a wall. The apple tree will never get across the wall to the pine tree's side, but the cracks in the wall make it close enough for them to communicate with each other. Even though nature repairs the wall as it breaks, it doesn’t stop the trees from becoming friends. This poem displays unity between the two trees as they interact with each other despite their differences.
Even people who speak different languages can comfort and help one another. In McDonough's "Accident," two women have been in a small accident. They both blow the accident out of proportion and immediately begin to yell and curse at each other. They soon realize there is no damage to either of their cars and stop arguing. One of the women cannot speak English well and begins to cry. The other woman asked if she was okay, and hugs her to comfort her. She showed compassion towards the other woman and even though she didn’t really know her, she still made sure she was okay and was comforted. This relates to Christmas party my class mates and I hosted for the children suffering from cancer. They needed to be comforted, but also to be distracted from the treatments and pain they had to endure.
Even during slavery, the north came together with the south and taught slaves how to read. In Harper's, "Learning to Read," Northerners sent teachers to teach slaves how to read. The person in this poem mentioned that she is 60 years old. She didn't allow the discouragement of the Rebs to stop her from continuing to learn how to read. After she had learned to read, she became successful, even buying herself a cabin. She describes how she felt like a queen. With the help of others, she became a successful and bright woman. This poem relates to my service because with the help of my classmates and I, the children felt no different than any other child. They may feel different every single day, like slaves did, but for one day, these children were no different. They were like every other healthy child.
As a Jesuit University, how can we help the poor and homeless? In Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach's "The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education," it is discussed that education should help discover the vocation of life in a Jesuit University. It must be a place where catechism is embraced and studied. Dean Brackley questions, “Shouldn’t service of some kind among poor and suffering people be required of all students at our institutions?” Can this be started up by studying abroad in poor countries? How can we make the Jesuit education the best it can possibly be? By embracing the catholic religion, Jesuit students open their arms to poor people. We can all reach out to less fortunate people and show them our support and love.
In each of these works, different people from different backgrounds, genders, and races have all helped one another in different, but important ways. All the works displayed a form of unity as well. These works relate to my service and Jesuit education because I too have helped people in need. As a Jesuit institution, Loyola provides its students with many community service opportunities that help the underprivileged. My many different experiences with community service have opened my eyes to the hardships in people’s lives and Loyola has informed me of the many ways I can help.