International Service-Learning 2007
Miriam Samuelson '08
"It occurred to me as we talked with Leticia that she would never have the luxury of contemplating the ethics of service or other philosophical quandaries that we young students had set out to solve—she literally worked from dawn to dusk every single day. And yet she was the very model of service and hospitality that I strive to emulate in my life. She gave generously of all that she had. She shared her time and her life with us, showing us how to make cheese, how to do the dishes, letting us attempt to fold tamales. She fed us mangoes from trees in her backyard, she gave us beds in which to sleep. She gave us hospitality we could never even hope to repay."
--Miriam Samuelson '08. Click here to download Miriams's reflective essay.
"Sitting in that living room, hearing the wheezing breath of a dying woman, and knowing that the fabric debris that is slowly suffocating her came from clothing that will be displayed in retail stores across the US enlightened me to how far my consumer habits as a US American extend in the world. Simply looking around my dorm room I can connect myself to workers in Nepal, India, China, Pakistan, and Honduras. Until I traveled to Honduras, I viewed the Made In _____ portion of a tag on an article of clothing to be no more important than the care instructions that I, as a male college student, ignore so well. Now I see the people behind those tags; the stories, families, and dreams that they have, just like any person in the U.S."
--Cameron Field '10. Click here to download Cameron's reflective essay.
"The person who decided to capitalize on water is either a genius or a villain. Commodifying survival by putting a price on water in a country that is notorious for humid, stiflingly hot days is an abomination. Many areas of the country may not even be reachable by those selling drinking water, even if the rural Hondurans have the money to pay for it. Those Hondurans waiting for buckets of water for showering, cleaning, and drinking run through my mind every time I hear the endless supplies of water coursing through the pipes in my home."
--Rachel Dougherty '08. Click here to download Cameron's reflective essay.
A game of "duck,duck, goose" between St. Olaf students and Honduran children.
"As individuals devoted to living in communal and reciprocal service on a global scale, we must stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zones. In this realm of unsurity we must take responsibility to listen and learn from our sisters and brothers. We cannot let our fear overpower the immense beauty that results from an authentic relation and intimate exchange. This point especially rings true when I consider how I might have felt if I were in Honduras by myself; without a guide, without a translator, without traveling mates. What if I were the one asked to plan and organize school programs, health services, etc., in which others would find meaning and hope? Could I do it? This experience at La Cañada reminds me that it is entirely possible. I can cast the doubt away because I have come to realize that I’m not the only player. Service is not about me; it is never about one person. Service is a community endeavor. Each experience and each personal exchange is never individualized. It is in this understanding that the idea of “stepping outside my comfort zone” no longer seems like a legitimate reason to fear."
--Molly Jacobson '09. Click here to download Molly's reflective essay.
"In his book Callings Gregg Levoy states, “The purpose of calls is to summon adherents away from their daily grinds to a new level of awareness, into a sacred frame of mind, into communion with that which is bigger than themselves.” The philosophy behind the Lilly program enabled me to step out of the day-to-day monotony and bring me to a place that needs recognition. This concept of “communion with that which is bigger than [myself]” is the great drive toward solidarity and finding the simple, inherent values that make all human beings tick. Solidarity in itself may be a form of service to others, while across borders, visitors like us have the opportunity to bridge the cultural divides that separate us from Hondurans and embrace those differences to bring something positive back to the U.S."
--Mark Forsberg '08. Click here to download Mark's reflective essay.
Levoy, Gregg. Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997, 2.
Written July 2, 2007
Experienced June 16, 2007
by Laura Wagner '08
Click here for Laura's reflective essay.
Climbing higher, you’d think
We’d reach heaven
But we find only despair
Stacked on disparity.
A house of cards, carefully placed
La Divanna rises up the mountain,
Stretching its filthy hands to
The sky. To God. To Hope.
Hoping not to topple today...
Heavy lungs lose the battle
To years in the heart of a maquilla.
Inside the beast they toil
Inside, dust chokes her lungs
But not her soul.
This is life.
Could there be less?
Than skin and bones,
Of heaving chest,
And gasping breath?
In the damp, dark basement
We huddle, and hover, singing
As if our white skin, our white words
As if our presence
Will right all wrongs
Of a system perpetuating
Cycle of sickness
Garbage ferments along the streets
Mixing with broken glass and cigarette butts
To create a vile stew of anonymity and
I drink this rancid potion
As I lace up Victor’s shoes
The brown leather worn and cracked
I am drunk
With this notion of immobility,
Poverty courses through my veins,
Shards of glass lacerate my lungs.
I cannot speak.
If I could, would anyone
Could you translate the thunder of
Does it speak of salvation
Or of another day,
Tell me not of misery
I am this tragedy,
Both sides of it.
Removing head lice.