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Videos and Reflections

Before Spring Break 2020, we partnered with University Communications and Marketing (UCOM) to share stories of some of our students who participated or coordinated a Service & Justice Trip. These videos were also shown at the 2020 Service & Justice Trips Soup Luncheon and Auctions. You can view all the videos below!

Special thanks to UCOM and the students who were willing to share their story with us.

Reflections

Read about student experiences on Service and Justice Trips at many of our community partners.


"There are not enough words to encapsulate our experience in Axtell, Nebraska. Blessed, fun, graciousness and rejuvenating are just a few that could top the list."

— Ed Nuñez, BA’18 MA’21


Read more stories below.

April 17, 2020

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Ed Nunez

After my Global Citizenship class took a trip to the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, I found out that there were still spots open for their spring break service and justice trips. I applied and interviewed two days before the first preparation meeting. There, I found out I’d be going to Stroud, Oklahoma to work with Habitat for Humanity. At the site, we were told we’d be working on siding the house, patching drywall, painting and installing moulding, cleaning the shower, and putting in a window and the doors.

While the trip was cut one day short due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were able to spend lots of time with the Stroud community. They were able to teach me a lot about community and genuine human interaction. The first day, we went to Mass at the local Catholic parish. The priest spent much of the homily talking about service and thanking us for being there. It was almost uncomfortable, as we hadn’t done anything yet. Afterward, they invited us to eat breakfast with them. One of the men who was sitting next to some of us knew that we were planning to go to Oklahoma City for the day. He asked if we were going to go to the bombing museum. We told him that we were going to stop by the memorial, but would not be going into the museum because of the fee. This man pulled out his wallet and gave us more than enough money for everyone in our group to get in. The community wanted us to learn about them and their experiences.

Every night for dinner, we ate at local churches. The church members, our group, and the family receiving the house all ate together. I was reminded of the commensality discussion I’d had in theology. Commensality is essentially what we eat, where we eat, when we eat, how we eat, and most importantly, with whom we eat. In Christ’s ministry, Jesus open-eating commensality. He broke bread with everyone, even if they were strangers. The Stroud community lives out this open-eating ministry. They ate with us and welcomed us with open arms. From this, I am grateful I had the opportunity to learn from and work alongside the Stroud community.

- Catherine Slenker ’23

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Janeth Arvizu Rivera

Making the commitment to go on a Service and Justice Trip for Spring Break was easy for me. I was excited to see where I’d get to go. Having traveled to Detroit last semester I signed up to do a half week trip and got to travel to South Omaha to serve at the OneWorld Community Health Center.

It is here that I learned about the affordable healthcare available to the residents of Omaha. I got to serve at the OneWorld Community Health Center and witnessed nurse practitioners and doctors preserve the dignity of each patient that walked through the door. Each person from doctors, to schedulers, to nurses are dedicated to the care of their patients as well as the understanding of their cultures. No person should be turned away from potentially life saving services especially in the wake of COVID-19. I learned how expansive their services were from providing immediate diagnoses and medicine, to educating patients about mental health and nutrition.

I am grateful I got to assure patients over the phone and share many laughs with my group. I also I learned about myself on this trip. I reconnected with my culture by sharing with my group about myself and my family.  Walking down 24th street in South Omaha reminded me of home as well as the importance of sharing my stories and experiences to educate others on what’s it means to treat others with respect no matter ones beliefs, background, or race. We must remember Chimamanda Adichie’s Danger of A Single Story and notice our interconnectedness in order to better our world.

- Janeth Arvizu Rivera ’23

April 14, 2020

There are not enough words to encapsulate our experience in Axtell. Blessed, fun, graciousness and rejuvenating are just a few that could top the list. The Mosaic community is something special and it was an experience I think that helped made us all better people. The residents who live in Mosaic have various mental and physical disabilities; many of the residents are nonverbal and/ or are in wheelchairs.  But let me tell you something we learned very quickly is they also have the BEST personalities. They live in the Mosaic community to work through some of the challenges life has given them, it is not a permanent residence but rather a place to grow. The staff members who work there have such a great job and they do their jobs so well it made it even harder to leave because we all had made so many connections. Our goal was to learn more about a community that does not get much attention and ways that we can help advocate for them. Little did we know, we would all learn so much about ourselves. This isn’t me being cheesy; this is me being real and honest. We had some bumps to work through because we all had our own biases that we weren’t even aware of. These are not hate-stricken biases, these are biases that are created from the lack of knowing. By the end of our trip, we gained so much knowledge which helps us combat these biases and equipped us to accomplish our goal to advocate.

When interacting with people who do not communicate the same way as you it is so easy to be thrown off. This doesn’t make us bad people; it makes us realize that there are ways to live life that are different than our own. A realization that only steers you in the direction to be a better person and help you work for and with others. As the week carried on, we all became so acclimated in finding different ways to communicate with the residents that worked for the both of us. The look on their face when you make a connection is absolutely priceless. There is one more thing I want to talk about that I felt was so essential to the Mosaic community and that everyone can apply to their life. We were able to reevaluate the virtue of patience. Patience with ourselves, with others, and with time. This is what I am personally most thankful for coming out of this trip because this has given me so many new ways to redefine and live my life. Again, not being cheesy this is how impactful this trip was. God has made us into great human beings – but we all have growing we can do. Learning how to be patient really makes us accept ourselves for the stage we are at and keeps us on the path to where we want to go. Patience with others goes such a long way: it can help them learn, it can help you learn, and it builds stronger bonds.

There is no surprise that in saying that time is the most valuable thing we have. Before joining the Mosaic community, I was living just like everyone else at 100 miles an hour. After this trip, I realize how much we miss when we live that fast. There is so much joy you can get just by slowing down and living in the current moment. The Mosaic community does not put pressure on how fast life needs to move, it will carry on at the rate it pleases if you let it. Most importantly, it reduces how much stress comes with living at 100 miles an hour. You get time to breathe, enjoy everything God has given us, and just simply be. I decided against sharing the exact stories of how much shenanigans we got into with Mary, or how Jacey would call just to make sure we would come back to play the next day, or how great the hugs from Colby were, or how Keith so enthusiastically ripped up paper into confetti. These experiences and connections cannot be felt through words on a screen.

But what can be felt is how you apply all the lessons that can be found in Axtell.

- Ed Nuñez, BA’18 MA’21

April 8, 2020

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Elizabeth Wunn

Before all the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic really began, I along with six other Creighton students had the opportunity to spend a week unplugged from what was going on in the rest of the world and instead be immersed in the diverse and vibrant community of North Minneapolis.  Our days were spent with the kids at Ascension Catholic School and our evenings we cooked dinner for and heard personal stories from various people in the North Minneapolis community.  We learned about issues ranging from gun violence to immigration and encountered a variety of different cultures such as Hmong and Native American.  All these experiences were connected by our wonderful host Brian.  Brian graciously welcomed us into his home, the St. Jane House, with open arms and showed us what it truly means to “Be who you are and be that well.”

A moment that really sticks out to me from the trip was a moment of realization that I think we all had.  Wednesday night, as we were gathered around the kitchen table in Brian’s kitchen, our coordinators solemnly informed us that we had to return to Omaha early due to the coronavirus.  The joking atmosphere quickly became somber as looks of shock were exchanged between watery eyes.  “What about the kids?” someone said in a hushed voice as we all realized we were going to miss a whole day at the school Friday and would have to tell the kids tomorrow that it was actually our last day.

Later that night, we moved to the living room for our nightly group reflection.  During this time, we all acknowledged our sadness and disappointment about the situation and having to leave this community a day early.  For many of us, I think it was this situation that allowed us to realize just how much these kids had impacted us, and how attached we had become.  It wasn’t until we were faced with leaving that we realized just how much we had come to love and connect with the people we encountered in this community.  At least knowing that we were missing out a whole day allowed us to appreciate all the little things more on what became our new last day.

It was a very powerful moment the next day when it was time to leave the school, and I had seven six-year-olds clinging to me and refusing to let me go.  It was also one of the hardest moments, easing myself out of their grip and knowing I was leaving for good.  This was another moment that I realized the mutual impact we’d had on each other, the kids and I.

Now, sitting here at home, where I’ve been practicing social distancing for the past several days, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect.  A line from the song Hands, by Jewel, that has been on my heart during this time is “In the end only kindness matters.”  The lyrics of this song were Brian’s parting gift to us and they’ve really stuck with me.  I keep thinking about how at the end of the day, we are all more similar than we are different; we all just want to be loved.  And kindness is a way to show love that can break across any barriers.  Through my experiences in North Minneapolis, I’ve learned that kindness can speak any language, and no culture, race, religion or any other differences can stand in its way.  I am so grateful for the impact this experience has had on me, and I know I will hold on tightly to these memories during this difficult time our world is in.

- Elizabeth Wunn, Class of 2023

November 13, 2019

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James Quinlin

One of my key takeaways from my Fall Break Service & Justice Trip to El Paso, TX was the understanding that these trips can be just as impactful, and in some ways more impactful, if the trip is completely justice focused and our group does little to no service. There is a common misconception that groups from Creighton go to a host site with the goal of fixing a problem through doing acts of service. While our El Paso group did only a few small acts of hands-on service, we accomplished just as much toward repairing the broken immigration system that our country faces right now.

The majority of our time in El Paso was spent listening to speakers who are knowledgeable about the immigration in its current state. We met with researchers, professors, Border Patrol employees, lawyers, and non-profit directors. We learned about the statistics and financials of immigration. We also learned about the emotions of immigration. We met families who had been separated as they were seeking asylum in the United States. We talked with people who had been serving immigrants and refugees their whole lives. We heard from lawyers who are trying to turn the legal system upside down in the interest of repairing the processes for individuals who are applying for asylum. Seeing the emotions of the presenters we heard from inspired emotions in the participants in our group. This inspiration clearly progressed to a “fire in the belly” of our group, which will lead to systemic change.

Our group also spent a significant amount of time in reflection. Reflection in our group took many forms: group reflection at the end of every night, debriefing after each presentation, one-on-one interactions among group members, and personal reflections throughout the day. The justice-based structure of our El Paso trip made the reflections especially meaningful. As noted above, we experienced a wide range of emotions throughout the day. Some of these emotions were difficult to process for some participants in the group, including me. Reflection, in its many forms, was a tool to remember our experiences through the day. By remembering our experiences, we would remember how we felt through the day. For me, recalling my feelings was crucial to having the best possible experience on this Service & Justice trip.

I entered this trip thinking I was well-educated on the United States immigration system. After spending a week learning about the complexities and nuances of all the government processes, I am smart enough to acknowledge that I am not smart. There have been so many people victimized by the federal government. There have been so many laws passed to complicate the system. There have been so many lives pushed away and forgotten about. Thinking I was, or ever will be, well-educated on the immigration system is a major fallacy. All I can do is learn whatever I can and care for whomever I can.

- James Quinlin, Class of 2020

November 13, 2019

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Sarah Giacomini

I am fortunate to have a specific moment on this trip that truly changed my vision of the world. This sounds cliché, but once I explain what happened I hope you understand where I am coming from. The first four days of our trip were already incredible because of the organizations we were partnered with and the amazing people we were able to meet. However, there was one night, one organization, and one interaction that really made the trip for me.

When Wednesday night of our trip rolled around, I was exhausted and confused as to why we were going on a bike ride at 8 PM. The organization we were serving that night was called Urban Bike Food Ministry and though the name is pretty telling of what we would be doing, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and I found it difficult to get excited. However, when we arrived my mindset flipped. Our mission for the evening was to meet people experiencing homelessness where they are at instead of them having to make a trip to us to receive a meal, clothes, or company. I loved this idea and immediately became interested. Although I was excited about our activity, I had no idea the impact that night would leave on me. Our first task was to fill our backpacks with burritos or hotdogs, chips, snacks, socks, shoes, hygiene packs, and really anything we could fit in our small bags. I really regret bringing a small draw string bag because I wished I could have stuffed it more.

At 8 PM sharp, we prayed and took off to our designated locations. The first location was at the beginning of Main St. right off the Mississippi River. It was a beautiful night and I definitely felt the butterflies in my stomach because of what I was about to encounter. After the first stop was over, my nerves left my body and I became confident in my ability to approach any person on Main street and ask if they had eaten that night. It became a conversation more than a confrontation and I started falling in love with the experience and more so with the people I was getting the opportunity to meet and get to know in the few short minutes we had with them.

About an hour into our ride, I found a man sitting in front of a mail box that no one else noticed. I told the coordinator of our ride, Lyell, that I was going to give the man something to eat so he joined me to give him water. As soon as we approached the man, Lyell asked where the man’s shoes were. Damion, the man we had just met, said that all he had was the flip flops that were next to him. His feet were extremely swollen and it looked like he was in a ton of pain. What happened next was something I never expected to.

Lyell asked Damion what sized shoe he was and he answered, “13.5, but I could squeeze into anything.” I handed him a pair of socks and started putting them on his feet when Lyell told me to wait a second. I thought Lyell was going to go back to his bike to look for the correct sized shoe for Damion, but instead he took off his own shoe knowing that they probably wouldn’t fit, but he knew he had to try. With socks on, Lyell’s shoes would definitely be too tight so we kept them off and tried to fit them on Damion’s feet. Unfortunately, they did not fit, but Lyell asked Damion to stay in that spot if possible and said he would bring a pair of shoes around in about an hour. The entire time this was happening, I was standing there with a pair of socks and two hotdogs, completely in awe of what was happening. What I had to offer wasn’t anything close to what Lyell had just done. The kindness and selflessness that Lyell showed Damion was something I have never experienced. The way that I describe this act and feeling is like a parent’s love, but to a complete stranger because Lyell had true love for this man. Lyell is the kind of person that I want to be, and this story will forever remain the reason that I continue to love every person regardless of circumstances.

- Sarah Giacomini, Class of 2020

November 7, 2019

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Emma Gallagher,

Intention, community, comfort, open-mindedness.

As we entered the week, these words and ideas were at the forefront of our thoughts. Our small group of five students each presented our goals, hopes and ambitions that we’d focus on during the week as we crowded our van to Mobile, Alabama.

A group of five young girls embarking on a trip we didn’t know much about, we were nearly oblivious to the powerful connections we’d soon make with one another and a new community. Despite these uncertainties, we entered with enthusiasm and willingness to the unknown.

After completing our two day drive we finally arrived at our host site where we were graciously greeted by the Daughters of Charity. These sisters were of different ages, backgrounds and worked in different ministries, but each welcomed us the same. These were the first faces to greet us as we stepped into the community. Their eagerness and hopefulness for our small group radiated in each of their smiles, embraces and soon their stories of their ministries and time spent in Mobile.

Over the course of the week we had the opportunity to spend a day with each sister as we assisted at the site they spend their days. These sites ranged from schools to churches to a rehabilitation center to a hospital, but no matter where we were or who we had the honor of spending our time with, we could see the passion and love they each had for their work. It was clear to us what it meant to serve with this community, standing in solidarity with them and the obstacles they face.

We saw these obstacles and struggled to make sense of what we could possibly do to lend a hand in the day we spent at each site. Each day we’d reflect on these thoughts and would ask ourselves and one another questions on what we’d experienced. In the midst of trying to make sense of the experiences individuals face each day, we turned to the advice from the sisters who encounter the same thoughts day in and day out. Not always in words, but always in actions – they’d remind us of the importance of building the connections we could with those we met, those we could learn from and those who we may be able to simply lend a smile for the day.

It was in stories and personalities of children, the sisters, parishioners, students and so many others – that we truly got a glimpse into the lives of this beautifully unique community. In these stories, questions and moments we recognized the value of our presence and the value of our efforts to get to know Mobile.

While we entered the week unknowing, we left grateful for the irreplaceable time we spent in Mobile. We no longer were the oblivious students, we had quickly become “five Creighton girls” being sent back home to carry on our stories and carry on the powerful love of community and friendship we had quickly experienced in Mobile.

- Emma Gallagher, Class of 2021

November 7, 2019

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Timothy Cruz

Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions; yet our roots remain as one.

Before going to East St. Louis, I never really understood how stereotypes can influence a person’s perspective. I was told that East St. Louis wasn’t a safe city, and that it was a city known for violence.

Yet, hearing and believing is different from seeing something for yourself.

Arriving at the Hubbard House in East St. Louis, we were greeted by Diane who runs the Hubbard House as well as Catholic Urban Programs. Despite knowing the city’s reputation, not once did she ever mention violence or crime, but instead focused clearly on aspects of community and love. Throughout our interactions, Diane’s love and compassion towards the community slowly made me realize that this city is more than what meets the eye.

On Sunday, we had a chance to go to Mass at St. Augustine of Hippo Catholic Church, and I remember feeling awkward and intrusive. This feeling quickly dissipated throughout the mass as songs filled the air. I found myself becoming more and more observant of the interactions of the community. The biggest turning point, that instantly took away any nervousness I was feeling, was during the sign of peace. Unlike typical masses, where I was used to where it was a short peace among neighbors, the community of East St. Louis sign of peace was filled with love and compassion. I remember seeing everyone get up out of their pews as I stood there watching how the community went around the church smiling, hugging and shaking hands as if everyone belonged to everyone. This one moment instantly set the precedent for the rest of the trip, and I couldn’t help but smile as it reminded me that we are all family.

Over the course of the week, we had a chance to serve at Sr. Thea Bowman Catholic School, Holy Angels Shelter, St. Vincent De Paul Thrift store and soup kitchen, and DeShield Griffin Centre, an afterschool program for kids. Overall, my experience will forever be ingrained in my heart. In the morning, I was assigned to serve at St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store/Soup Kitchen, while in the later afternoon, I transitioned to DeShield Griffin Centre. During the week, I began patiently observing the community and found myself in constant state of happiness and wonder as each individual carried a hidden light inside them. In particular, I spent most of my time organizing supplies, serving at the soup kitchen, passing out desserts to the community, and interacting with the kids of the community.

What I noticed during this time is that each and every person in the community treated me with respect, and not once did I carry with me fear or witness any attempt at violence. Although a small gesture, every person I served at the soup kitchen always said, “Thank you” and happily received their food without complaint. It was sweet to see as the week went on polite attitudes, respect, and trust of the community was carried with each other. I began noticing myself becoming more and more ingrained in interacting with the community as if they were members of my own family.

One individual that stood out to me during this trip was Reggie. He was a compassionate and kind man who has experienced homelessness. Through his eyes, one can see the amount of struggles he has faced yet, his humbleness and wisdom really drew me to him. I will never forget the time during lunch when we had a chance to sit down and talk to him. He explained to us his wisdom and told us how grateful he is to have had a chance to talk with us. He began telling us how life is difficult but it’s not the mistakes that define us, but how we rise above those mistakes. He went on to evaluate each of us asking us what our goal in life is, which led him to analyze us through cold readings. Some of the cold readings involved him pointing at a member of our group and saying words of affirmation such as “you are kind,” “you are someone whose going to make a difference in the world” etc. During our conversations, I began seeing aspects of my father in him as every word of affirmation, wisdom and his thoughts began resonating with me. I didn’t realize how closely similar the world is and how similar we all are to each other. Our talk brought me to tears as I began realizing how a person with so much wisdom who has gone through so much hardship and pain can reflect on his life to tell us that he doesn’t have the ability anymore to make a change. But we can.

As individuals, we struggle throughout life continuously searching for something that might ease our struggle yet, Reggie taught me the importance of family, love, humbleness, patience and gratitude. Knowing he doesn’t have much, he prides himself on doing small gestures to show gratitude and to help the community. It’s not about what you say, but it matters on what you do. Family continues to thrive in East St. Louis and unconditional love remains at the forefront of the hearts in the community.

The family of East St. Louis has taught me that this city isn’t a city of hopelessness and despair. This city is far from it. East St. Louis is a city filled with gentleness, hope and love. All it needs is just a little push in the right direction. Through my interactions, I’ve learned that struggle and pain are important to understanding and becoming self-aware. It allows you to grow, change and become who we are meant to be. We are all family and all of us are rooted in love.

I would like to end with two quotes from Reggie that I wrote on a napkin that I still keep in my wallet to this day:

1. “You can’t have someone ride your journey, but you can be together in your struggle” – Reggie

2. “You can’t touch a flame, you can’t put your hand on the fire, but you can spread love you hold to others. (hand gesture heart) – Reggie

- Timothy Cruz, Class of 2020

October 31, 2019

In Burmese it’s Chay-tzoo-beh. In Thai it’s Tab bluh. In Somali it’s mahadsanid.

These words are all spoken in different languages but ultimately have the same meaning: Thank you.

These words were what I learned from my new found friends at the Yates Community Center every time English class had ended for the day. The thought of thankfulness is what comes to mind when I think of my half-week trip and all the people that I have met. From the cozy group car rides in a white dodge van we named “Tiff” to the amazingly energetic kids at Gifford Park elementary to hearing a refugee’s story from Nepal to delicious momos (steamed dumplings) to guava candy to Scattergories to documentaries to gardening at Augustana Lutheran Church to AirBorne vitamins to reflection time to Mr. Glenn’s peanut butter jelly song to the students at Yates Community Center, all these little moments were what made our trip special to me. Our trip focused on refugees in Omaha and the struggles that many of them face on their journey to asylum and in the States. I remember Tania, at the CHI Health Center, telling us about her experiences with her refugee patients and how many of them did not have a choice on leaving their home country or even coming to the United States for safety. It had never occurred to me how global the situation was and how many people were affected by it before this trip.

I remember the third day we went to the Yates Community Center and there was a new student named Moo Sar that sat in the back corner who had just arrived in the States about 3 weeks ago. She was a refugee from Thailand and had a baby boy who sat in the walker most of the time and played with other children. I was in charge of teaching her the alphabet and seeing if she could respond to questions like “How are you?” or “What’s your name?” For a while she did not say anything and was quiet but after a while I heard her say some letters when I pointed to the alphabets. We worked on writing the alphabet for a while and practiced writing her name and sounding out each letter together. We kept practicing both the conversation questions and spelling out her name until she could write out when I asked her to. I saw how she paid attention to every curve, stroke, and detail required for each letter. When she finished practicing I asked her to write her name out one more time. That uplifting feeling that came along with teaching someone how to spell their name in alphabet and them being able to single handedly write their name back to you is very impactful. I could see that every time she wrote her name, she started gaining more confidence and independence and eventually, she looked up at me and smiled. I asked her one of the conversation questions I had been asking since the beginning of our session, which was “What is your name?” and she told me “My name is Moo Sar.” That was the moment that I felt an overwhelming sense of joy and excitement for her and gave her a thumbs-up. That feeling of finally understanding something in class and to reach on to something that was not attainable before was something that I related to very much.

Learning in itself is a journey because it is a challenge to learn a new language and on top of that, having a passion and love for learning English is something that all the students had, which I never really thought about and took for granted. Through this trip I have learned that every human being deserves a chance at a better life and given an opportunity to pursue their passions, including learning English.

- Ed Nuñez, BA’18 MA’21

October 31, 2019

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Hannah Olsen

As we all walked in to the room we were staying, there was no doubt that there were doubts in my mind. Being the first Creighton students to travel to Niobrara, we had no idea what to expect. Our group knew that we would be interacting with members of the Ponca tribe, undergoing certain traditional activities and performing some service work, but beyond that, we knew no details. Nevertheless, our group set out into the unpredictable and unknown that was the week with an adventurous spirit and bellies full of boxed mac n cheese.

The next day, we experienced a traditional sweat lodge ceremony with the Ponca tribe that left us soaked with sweat, yet completely spiritually awaken. It was pitch black in the small lodge that we were in, as we were surrounded by members of the Ponca tribe. As water was poured over the hot rocks in the middle, hot steam rose, and the small lodge became the hottest place I had ever been in my entire life. During this time, members of the tribe sang their prayers as the drum was being beaten as I felt fully connected to the world around me. As our group braced the hour and a half of piping hot darkness, the tone for the trip was set. We were all in this adventure together. During this sweat lodge, we had encounters with community members that enabled us to develop a connection with those that are a part of the Ponca tribe, as well as other tribes in the area. However, it is safe to say that one encounter changed the week as we all would know it.

As we returned to our residence after the sweat lodge, a man walked up to our door to greet us. After introductions, we became to know him as Larry. Larry, the spiritual leader of the tribe. Larry, the buffalo keeper. Larry, our new friend. Over the next week, we explored Niobrara with many unexpected and compassionate characters, but connections grew as Larry took us to see his buffalo herds, dinners and sunsets were shared, and many stories were told where both compassionate understanding and laughter was abundant.

Larry’s advice was incomparable, and his wisdom seemed unmatched. He knew of the trials and struggles of his people and he knew that change and progress had to occur in order for their culture to thrive among the community. Even after all that the Ponca tribe has been through with the displacement of their community, there still remained a hope for the future and a belief that their people could endure anything, which I was confident they could. Throughout the week, Larry remained a constant friend and inspiration as we navigated the various adventures we encountered from cleaning the Ponca tribe’s cemetery and staining a cooking shack to having lunch with Ponca elders and hearing their stories.

We woke up each morning unaware of the new people we were to meet and the experiences that lay ahead. However, sometimes in the mornings or the afternoons or at the end of each day, we were graced with Larry’s presence, smile, and words. Larry talked about his own relationship with Ponca culture and his participation in Sundance and their Powwow, where Ponca members gather and celebrate. It was clear that Larry had a profound connection to his people, himself, and his homeland, which was an inspiration and seemed to simplify the craziness that life is, into what really matters.

The presence of both unpredictability and continuity was something that I experienced a great deal with during the trip. As we learned about the Ponca tribe’s displacement by the US government and the decline of their cultural knowledge over time, I realized that little in life is certain and guaranteed. However, from listening to Larry and others and experiencing it all with my group, I soon realized that that which is the most important – yourself, those surrounding you, and the experiences that shape you…those are the things that will remain a constant in one’s life.

In turn, we must take these experiences and build upon them, educate others, and spread Larry’s advice: we are the two-legged of this earth, we are connected, we all belong to the same higher power. That’s another thing that will always be constant.

- Hannah Olsen, Class of 2022

October 30, 2019

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Marika Marklin

It was a jam-packed week full of learning, bonding, crying and growing (oh, and Oreos….all the Oreos)! Leave it to this wonderful group of people to have the most eye-opening and impactful service trip.

The 17 hour car-ride (each way) flew by at the speed of light. In no time, we had arrived at Resurrection Catholic Missions, ready to learn about racial injustice in Alabama, but not ready for the intensity of it that is still visible today. Without a doubt, going to the 10 museums about historical injustices opened our eyes to our ignorance on the subject matter, but being able to attend a Civil Rights dinner perhaps had the most striking impact on all of us. There, we heard first-hand stories of not only African Americans who had participated in the Montgomery bus boycott as carpool drivers, witnessed the bombing at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s house, worked with famous figures, and underwent the traumatizing racial injustices that we had learned about that entire week.

Most notably at the dinner, Mr. Nelson Malden spoke to us about his experiences as Dr. MLK Jr’s barber- he told stories that made this iconic figure seem like a real, down-to-earth, relatable person. Dr. MLK Jr. was funny in an odd sort of reserved fashion; he never admitted that he “liked” Mr. Malden’s haircuts, yet consistently came to only him (sometimes twice a month!), even after he moved to Atlanta! Mr. Malden’s personal account on such a Civil Rights icon truly touched me- so often people think that they can never achieve greatness such as the leaders before them because they seem “unreachable.” However, his personal stories and impersonal use of the name “Martin” showed that, like us, Dr. MLK Jr. was a man who was real; he felt irritation and frustration, desperation, and joy in the simple beauty of his wife and four children. To me, that was a turning point. I realized that I don’t have to be some super unreachable person to do something better for the world……I can just be me.

Of course, everything we learned and saw that week was an immensely empowering experience, but Mr. Malden’s account has left a lasting imprint on my heart. Our speakers are in their senior years now, and their accounts happened when they were either teenagers or in their twenties. Considering that my group could be some of the last people to have the privilege to witness their trials, tribulations, and accomplishments made hearing these impactful personal accounts even more poignant. I realized that my duty of sharing my acquired knowledge is more important than ever. In the next few decades I will be able to provide secondary accounts, while attributing my knowledge to the real sources- the dedicated and passionate participants of the Civil Rights Movement. Ensuring that these tragic injustices stay in the past is of utmost importance now, especially considering the precarious state of our country, and I believe that providing these accounts to others will help prevent history from doing what it’s best at: repeating itself.

- Marika Marklin, Class of 2022

October 25, 2019

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Brittney Long

Over fall break myself and nine of my peers had the privilege of going on a Service and Justice Trip to Detroit, Michigan. Coming into this trip each one of us had different ideas and expectations of what this trip would hold for us. For me personally, one of the aspects of the trip that came as a surprise to me was the number of different service sites we would be working at and how these different sites would impact my view of Detroit. During our week in Detroit we had the opportunity to serve people experiencing homelessness at the Pope Francis Center and the Noah Project, learn about and serve the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, and making arts and craft kits for children for a non-profit called Arts and Scraps. Although each of these experiences taught me an abundance of things, I want to share the experience I had during my time serving at the Pope Francis Center.

The Pope Francis Center is a resource in downtown Detroit for individuals that are experiencing homelessness. During our morning at the Pope Francis Center, we were able to interact with a lot of the guests and hear a lot of their stories. Through these interactions, I learned about the love that people have for Detroit. People who consider Detroit their home love their city fully and want nothing more than for the narrative to be changed. The Pope Francis Center had the most emotional impact on me. Being entrusted with the stories of these individuals was truly a humbling experience, this experience also put into perspective many of the privileges I have in my day to day life that I take for granted such as hot meals, showers, clean clothes, and a roof over my head. I will always cherish the conversation I had with a man named E while we were waiting for his coat to dry as we were standing in the doorway of laundry room. Our conversation started off as most conversations might, with a smile and a how are you doing. The center had just started serving lunch, so I asked E if he was going to grab some soup or a sandwich he told me that he already had breakfast so he wasn’t going to be eating lunch, I then asked if he minded if I asked why, he then went on to tell me how when he was younger he struggled with being overweight and had developed an eating disorder that he still struggled with today he continued by telling me that instead of eating, with the extra change in his pocket, he was going to go to a gas station, buy alcohol, search the streets for weed, and then he would not be left with the question of did he eat too much or not enough.  I thought about this story my whole trip and it still crosses my mind as I reflect on my service and justice trip. Before coming on this trip, I was blind to the fact that individuals experiencing homelessness go through struggles every day that surpass the baseline struggle of being without shelter, a steady income, food/water, and many of the basic survival needs. Before going on this trip I would see an individual experiencing homeless on a corner or outside of a store and would be so quick to place judgement on them for drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, but now I have to remember that have I no right to judge them as I do not walk in their shoes every day and have no idea what they are going through. Being a part of the Pope Francis Center, even just for a morning, taught me to remember that we are all human first and foremost, and that our days can be made by eye contact, a smile, and a hello.

Before I left for this trip, I was extremely nervous about going to Detroit. When I look back on the reasons why I was nervous I realized that I was only nervous to go to Detroit because of the terrible things that other people had told me. I already had an opinion of the city and the people that lived there before I even arrived. I am excited to share that what I had been told prior to my trip couldn’t have been far from the complete opposite of what I experienced. I have never been to a city with more genuinely kind people with a love and passion for their city. No matter where our group went, we were welcomed with open arms and smiling faces. Being a part of this service and justice trip taught me three important lessons that I am excited to share and implement into my life moving forward

1. We are all human first and foremost.

2. Eye contact and conversation can make a person’s day.

3. The narrative of a city does not make that city, the people who are apart of the city make that city!

Detroit and the wonderful, genuinely kind, welcoming, inspiring people I have met will always have a place in my heart and I will continue to change the Detroit narrative.

- Brittney Long, Class of 2022