Why I Serve: Emily Pierce '19

While life certainly contains periods of uncertainty, we must admit that much of our daily lives are meticulously planned ad nauseum, down to the millisecond. While we like to think we incorporate the caring of others into this routine, truthfully our circle of extending compassion is quite small in comparison to the vast human landscape of the world.

Emily Pierce '19These efforts to spread such compassion are in no way invaluable in themselves, however, they do often lack a richer, deeper understanding of what it truly means to simply “take care of one another.” The “one another” doesn’t always mean those that are seen in the broad daylight society shines. The “one another” includes those of us hidden in the shadows society has cast, whether they be shadows with names such as Fear, Embarrassment, Judgement, or Hardship.

They remain cloaked in these shadows until we hold those hands that hold hope just like mine, see those eyes that envision a better tomorrow just like mine, and a heart that has been weathered by experience into something miraculous that I am privileged to maybe learn a thing or two from about this journey we all are traveling on called life.

Life doesn’t present many opportunities for welcomed uncertainty, and Service and Solidarity trips are one of the few weeks in life where one can strip off the pressure of schedules, worrying about if your hair is straight enough or simply worrying what’s next. Without these distractions, there is a chance to see that we are all here and in one way or another doing the best we know how to ride out the waves of life. We, as a human race, are truly just one heart beating.

They provide a chance to see that the shadows these populations are forced to dwell in are by no means what their human dignity deserves. Once the week is over, you no longer leave with the same responsibilities you entered with. You forever have the responsibility of advocating for those unjustly shackled by society’s shadows because they unfortunately do exist is our communities.

As Thomas Aquinas said, “better to illuminate than merely shine.” While it’s important to shine from this experience and all it gives, it most importantly teaches us to illuminate those oppressive shadows through advocacy for those who have touched us.

This responsibility is not one of strain, but one of great honor and trust, handed to us directly by those we have encountered.