Last week I was on my first ever Spring Break Service Immersion Trip in Bladensburg, MD/Washingtion, D.C. with 9 DePaul students. It was an exciting and educational journey that I am incredibly grateful to have been able to participate on! We drove the 12 hours to MD and connected with The Daughters of Charity at Elizabeth Seton High School. We stayed in the gym of the high school and got to spend a lot of time in their home. We were also able to connect with the Daughters at St. Ann's Infant & Maternity Home. They work with teen moms and foster children. Both communities of women inspired us so much! They demonstrate patience, kindness, hospitality, courage, generosity, honesty and so much more. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be in their presence and learn from them. We did a ton of different projects throughout the week but here are some highlights:
Mass at St. Al's in D.C. - I haven't been moved or inspired by a Catholic Mass in a long time, but this service was incredibly moving! It was amazing to see such strong faith at this welcoming community.
Meeting formerly homeless men that went through the program at Christ House and now work there to help others. Their stories really put things in perspective and taught me to quit sweating the small stuff.
Playing with elementary school kids at MV Leckie School, learning about their mission and showing the DPU kids I know how to dance!
Living more simply than normal. Not concerning myself with what I was wearing or how I looked. Not checking my email and sleeping just fine on a gym floor.
Learning how to peel sweet potatoes efficiently at DC Central Kitchen.
Working with Sr. Kate at St. Ann's in her classroom and hearing her stories.
Spending time with seniors on our last day. It wasn't easy, but I knew we had a positive impact.
Cooking dinner for the Daughters that took care of us all week and getting the opportunity to thank them as a group.
Seeing my students grow throughout the week and slowly start to 'get it' and have the desire for change. It was amazing having the opportunity to get to know the students over the week that come from all walks of life and see them connect with one another and the populations we served.
I struggled throughout the week trying to determine my role as a staff leader and getting lost around D.C. but overall it was a really enriching experience. I learned that a little can go a long way, that every set of hands will make a difference, we all come from different places and have different stories but we're all people and we're all in it together, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to keep it real, to not sweat the small stuff, that I am incredibly privileged and blessed to lead the life that I do and that friendliness means a lot! I hope I have the opportunity to do this again and also maintain a lifelong connection with the amazing Daughters.