Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Service Analysis 1

It's a Jesuit Thing

Part of the reason I came to Loyola was because of the programs given through the Center for Community Service and Justice, so naturally I signed up for and went on the pre-fall program called Student Orientation to Service (S.O.S.). On S.O.S. S.O.S. took me out of my comfort zone, it made me interact with people I normally avoided and it opened my mind. I learned a lot on S.O.S. and that was because a big part of the trip was learning. We were taught about social issues, homelessness in Baltimore, and we brainstormed ideas on how to help. I feel like that was a very Jesuit thing to do. Between reading "The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education" by Fr. Peter and being on campus for over two weeks now I feel as though I've come to understand, or at least I'm starting to understand, the concept of "educating the whole person".

In Frances E.W. Harper's "learning to Read" we see that knowledge is freedom, quite literally. The slaves are forbidden to read because their masters, the "rebs", fear that will fuel them to revolt and leave. However, they find ways to read, and the narrator in particular, and it frees him. He ends up moving away and living the life he dreamed of. The message that knowledge is freedom I feel is very relevant to service; by learning about those we serve we can learn of better ways to help them. We can learn how to act with kindness and work towards justice. We must be educated on issues and potential solutions in order to make any sort of difference. I feel like during my week at S.O.S. we learned a lot. We learned about the poverty line and the problems with the food stamp programs and whatnot. We did not brainstorm solutions right then are there though, that is the job we carry today.

Jill McDonough points out the importance of seeing things from a different perspective in her poem "Accident, Mass. Ave.". The two drivers start out by screaming and yelling because that is what they are suppose to do according to society, but once they realize that there was no damage done they laugh it off. When I was at S.O.S. we learned that service was about more than giving out food or donating money. It is about getting to know the people, their stories; it was about seeing things from their perspective in order to learn how to serve them better.

I think the poem that most relates to my experience with service is "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost. The message i got from "Mending Wall" was that it takes a team effort in order to break through "the crack" and crumble "the wall". If we always keep our walls up who knows what we are missing out on. The same goes with service; it takes a partnership between the server and served in order to have an enriching experience. Service is more than handing a few bucks through the crack, it is breaking through that wall in order to helps someone. While at S.O.S. we got to have dinner with men in transitional housing and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much about those men in a few short hours and I learned a lot about myself. It was nice to be pushed out of my comfort zone in order to make others feel more comfortable and more loved. So much is gained from breaking down the wall; new people are met, new stories are told and learned, and new relationships are formed. "Breaking down the wall" while doing service is essential in order to have a complete experience.

All of these reading invite me to step out of my comfort zone, to strive for more than what society tells me I should be doing. Whether that be simply doing works of faith, not educating myself, following the flow, or building a wall; I am taught to avoid these scenarios, and I plan on it. I think S.O.S. was a good start for me, it was a good first toe in the water, but now I am prepared to be fully immersed.

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