Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I have a dream....

In honor of Martin Luther King Day we reflected on the I have a dream speech….here is what our Jwalkers said….

"My biggest dream for the future is for people eveywhere I the world to be happy.  I want people in every country, first or third world, to feel true happiness.  And feel no jealousy.  No jealousy of other worlds or other countries.  Everyone is able to live their lives and no one is able to live their lives and and no one is restricted by laws, stigmas, or negative feelings." Becca Green.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day we asked our Justice walking crew what they dreamed..."I have a dream that one day the world will know peace. There will be no wars. Conflict will be resolved by discussion. Not destruction. I have a dream that the world will know compassion. People will treat one another with respect and kindness. I have a dream that the world will become one. That borders won't divide us nor religion nor race. I have a dream that I will learn what it means to be truly happy. That I will know how to cultivate happiness both for myself, my family, my friends, and for the world that surrounds me. I have a dream that the world will know God; that there's something bigger out there, bigger than us...
MacKenzie Mills

I have a dream...
that all outcasts will be and feel accepted.
that everyone will feel loved.
that people will feel intrinsic value and our planet and it will be respected as our home.
we will be connected to one another.
Leah Schaffer

I have a dream...
character flaws
Maria Watson

I have a dream that hearts feel whole again…
Christian Andreen

I have a dream
To make a positive difference in someone's life
To stay positive even when things don't go as planned
To be open to new experiences that would help me grow into the person I want to become
To not be afraid to stand up for what I believe
To voice my opinion
To not make a quick judgement about others based on their looks or on what they may have done in the past
To not second guess my talents and abilities
To make the most out of life
To not regret doing something or not doing something
To take every chance given to make a better life for myself and others
To be the best daughter, sister, friend I can be
To be willing to change for the better
To be patient at all times, so not to rush into things or get upset when things don't happen when I want them to.
Lorraine Martinez

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN

The Justice Walking team made a stop at the National Civil Rights Mueseum in Memphis, TN on the way to Mississippi. This motel is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was staying when he was assassinated. The civil rights museum was built here in memory of him and the civil rights movement.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Control and Communication

Justice walking has been a new experience for me because it has forced me to think about the reality that I will not be here forever.  This is a novel concept for me, and it is easy to ignore this reality when I am surrounded by young people in college.

Spending time with my hospice patient has also given me the opportunity to discuss life without judgment, which may sound weird, but because my patient is a stroke patient, she can no longer speak well, so I never know if she understands what I’m saying or not.  Because I’m not sure what she does and doesn’t understand I just kind of ramble to her about life as a college student.  I tell her about that new guy I met last week, about the genetics class that is kicking my butt, and about how excited I am to graduate and discover the rest of my life.  I think she understands more than I think she does.  One day, I told her about how it was my birthday coming up and about how I would soon be turning 21.  I had no idea if she understood me, but as I got up to leave, she looked right at me and said, “Happy Birthday.”  I thought perhaps I was hearing things, but it turned out I wasn’t.  She repeated it again, “Happy Birthday.”   My patient teaches me how important it is to listen to people in life.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in speaking that we forget how important it is to hear what other people have to say.  I have greatly appreciated having someone around to listen to me without judgment.  My time with my patient reminds me how valuable I can be to others when I choose to listen to them the same way she listens to me.

I think a lot of times, we take things like the ability to communicate for granted; I know I do.  Seeing my patient each week reminds me to be grateful and patient in my own life.  It has taught me that in the end I am not in control.  God is.  It is so hard for me to let go and have faith that God will take care of me, but I think in a lot of ways, my patient and I are alike.  She seems incredibly strong-willed and stubborn; just like me!  However, at the end of the day, even her strong will had to surrender to old age.  I will have to surrender eventually too accepting that I am not in control, that I have never been in control, and that God is holding me in His hands.

-Christian Andreen

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reflections on the Fall Break Service Trip

When I heard that our fall break service trip would be in Mississippi, I was excited and anxious about the experience. I expected going into the trip that the issue of racism would be brought up and somewhat prevalent, but I didn’t know to what extent. The first night that we were there, our site host told us that at night, the gazebo area in the center of the town was “Whites Only.” To say that hearing that caught me off guard would be an understatement. Growing up, I learned about the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement and the extreme hardships that people went through due to their race. However, maybe it was due to my own naivety, but I thought that those types of outright segregation ended years ago. I never expected to hear about “Whites Only” places or a neighborhood that had a “members only” pool. The week that we spent going around the city and speaking with members of the community opened my eyes to the still present issues of racism in our country.

During our trip, we were able to meet people in the community who had first-hand experience of direct and indirect racism, yet they all seemed to have some of the most optimistic outlooks on life that I have ever encountered. One woman spoke to us about her experiences growing up in Calhoun City. I would’ve understood if she had hard feelings towards those who mistreated her. However, she had no ill feelings towards them or her experiences. Rather, she was able to find the positives in her experiences and not let what she had experienced hinder her from doing what she knows she is capable of achieving. I greatly admired her and her outlook on her past experiences and on life and others in general. One thing that she said that stuck out to me was that she didn’t see how she could dislike someone who may mistreat her or who was of a different ethnicity than her because she saw everyone as being a part of the same human family. “The same blood that runs in me runs in you.” She was just one of the many people that we met during our trip who were working towards breaking down the racial barriers that is still present in their community. 

I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to go to Mississippi and meet and interact with such inspiring people. I believe as a group, we grew closer together through our experiences at the elementary school and at the Excel Center, but especially in our discussions about what we heard and what we observed during our time there. The times that we spent with the kids at the elementary school and at the Excel Center will be some of my fondest memories of the trip. It’s difficult knowing, though, that we were only able to do so much for the kids in the amount of time that we were there. There is always this desire within myself to see a tangible change towards improvement in the lives of those that I help. But I think it’s unrealistic to expect this type of instant change, especially with a short trip such as our own. I would love to think that we made a huge impact on the kids’ lives, but I know realistically we did what we could with the time that we were given, and we did our best to have a positive influence on their lives.

I think the greatest change that happened during this trip, though, wasn’t in the lives of the kids that we met, but in our own lives. We experienced a different way of living that most of us were not familiar with before this trip, and we grew in our understanding and knowledge of the daily struggles that people are living with. It made us empathetic and conscious of the lifestyles of others and made us more appreciative of the opportunities that we are blessed to have.   

- Lorraine Martinez

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Learning in Mississippi

Our first day of sitting in on the elementary school was the day after Columbus Day. In the first classroom I helped out in, third grade, they had a worksheet exercise about Christopher Columbus, and they discussed their answers as a class when they were all finished. Among common questions about Christopher Columbus was one that asked if Columbus treated the native people of the New World nicely. Every single student answered "yes," and when the teacher was going over the answers for the class, she didn't correct them. Christopher Columbus, while the discoverer of the New World, has become a controversial character in American history because he was known to have mistreated and enslaved Native Americans in the early days of New World expansion. So my question is this: did the teacher simply not know, or purposefully avoid the topic so closely related to civil rights issues of the 60s? 

Our focus in this service trip was to be immersed in the issues of race and the Mississippi education system. Mississippi received failing grades from national reports on their education system. We also met an employee of the Excel tutoring center who is a senior in high school forced to go to Community College before moving on to a larger 4-year university because she feels as though her school hasn't prepared her for a university. Segregation may not be legal, but race still seems to be a huge issue in their community, and civil rights units aren't mandated for history classes. Segregation still exists under the cover of private institutions like a private school and a "members only" swimming pool. One of the Excel center board members is a white woman married to a black man, and she said that she is fully accepted in neither black or white communities because mixed relationships are not a thing in Calhoun. 

We spent our first two days in Calhoun, Mississippi touring a sweet potato farm, cotton farm, Oxford (home of Ole Miss) and some local establishments. This seemed to be meant to prepare us by giving us an idea of the system that our hosts were trying to break. We got a glimpse of the farming and manufacturing business, the future of some of the Calhoun Elementary students, but also a glimpse of Ole Miss, a place that the students at Calhoun talked about with starry eyes. 

Our week in Mississippi proved to be extremely educational and rewarding. We bonded a lot as a group, but each and every one of us also made a really special connection with the kids we were working with. While it was tough to stand back and know that tutoring for 3 days won't really make a huge impact in the lives of those kids, it was humbling to have learned so much about their community, and to realize how lucky we are to have the ability to go to such an incredible university. 

-Maria Watson

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Hospice-Esque Experience

Awhile back I had a hospice-esque experience driving to refill propane tanks.  I was driving the back road from my house and my dad noticed an elderly woman waving from a bush.  I missed it, and he found it weird that she was waving from a bush, but he didn't seem to think it was a big deal.  So we went and got propane and drove the same road back.  The second time we decided to check a little more carefully. 
Turns out this woman had fallen and was having trouble getting back up.  We stopped to help her and then chatted with her for awhile.  She was gardening and had slipped in her flowers and had pulled herself to the bush but was exhausted.  She had been sitting there over an hour while her daughter was inside and couldn't hear her.  It goes to show that sometimes you are placed in the right place to help someone.  This woman was 90 years old and had lived on the same road as me since 1940, when my city was just starting to creep from the valley to the hills.  Her name was Pearl and she was such a sweet old lady.  We had a conversation about her garden and how beautifully she had kept her front yard, with a vast assortment of flowers over the years. 
It's so nice to continue interacting with the elderly even after hospice.  I was really enthralled at how I knew how to handle the situation because of the skills I gained from hospice.  I felt surprisingly comfortable in conversing with Pear in her emergency and helping her even though she was a complete stranger and beyond me in years.  It lead me to realize how blessed I was to have my experience at Creighton and how well it helped me to become an active person in my community as well as be able to help those in need.

Written by Pat