Dr. Juniper Ellis
11 September 2013
Familiarity in an Unfamiliar Place
Today, Wednesday September 11th, I hesitantly entered the 4th Floor Programming Room at Loyola University for a presentation by author Steven Jones—a man whose work I had no familiarity with. I was expecting the room to be nearly empty, with only students solely there to fill a course requirement, or the select few diehard fans. I was wrong. My perception could not have been further from the reality. The room was filled with students, boisterous laughter, and a sensation of anticipation. I took my seat and the presentation began.
“Dreams,” Jones stated, “Dreams are crazy places to go. They do not matter to the real world.” I began to take his statement into perspective. This was not exactly what I wanted to hear. I have always been told that dreams are powerful and meaningful. I guess Jones is right in a sense. A dream is just a place to escape, but what really matters is one’s actions. “Doing” is what makes a difference and an impact in society.
In the excerpt “The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education,” Fr. Peter-Ham Kohvenbach explains, “The real success in Jesuit universities is who our students become.” It is about understanding reality, focusing on wisdom, broaden our horizons free from bias, and discover our vocation (vocation to love and serve). It is one thing to dream about making a change, but another thing to actually take the initiative to do so.
Jones began reading his short story, “Neither Heads nor Tales,” and I could not help but notice the diversity stretching across the room. Students from all different grades, backgrounds, and with different purposes joined the faculty to learn and to laugh. It reminded me of Jill McDonough’s poem, “Accident, Mass. Ave.” This poem is about two women of different ethnicity and get in a car accident. The Caucasian woman’s first instinct was to yell, swear, and blame the other non-English-speaking woman for her mistake. At the resolution of the poem, the women come to find out that there was no damage. The little woman cries, the narrator comforts her and the two hug in laughter. So often we jump to a conclusion about something before giving it a chance. I went into the presentation expecting it to have no relevance to my life. In reality I was captivated by Jones, laughed with my peers and gained perspective on the Loyola community.
In the poem “Learning to Read” by Frances E. Harper, a young slave explores a time when whites from the north came to the south to teach them how to read. Literacy and knowledge have always been traditions and this poem emphasizes its potential to bring unity. This is the same unity I found today within the Loyola community, as well as the unity through service emphasized in the Jesuit teachings.
As Jones wrapped up his presentation, he admitted that although there were times publishers restricted him from topics he wanted to write about, he did not let that stop him. Jones was persistent on staying true to himself. Similarly, The poem, “Mending Walls” by Robert Frost centered on the concepts of individualism and tradition. Two evidently very different neighbors lawns are divided by a crumbling stonewall. The narrator is open-minded, grows apple trees, and invites change where as the neighbor is comfortable with the norm and grows pine trees. The wall is a physical divider between the neighbors, but the tradition of “the outdoor game” keeps the very different neighbors united.
It is clear from my readings and experience that unity can be found is the least likely of places. It is important to take actions to make a difference, while remaining true to oneself. By the end of Jones’s presentation I realized that I was a lot more familiar with what he had to say than I originally thought.
Kolvenbach, Peter-Hans. “The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher
Education.” Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education 21-41
Myer, Michael. Poetry. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. Print.