A Generous Gesture in the Air

We departed campus and made our way to Boston, where we began our day of flying. We were all anxious to get on our way, but the weather caused a delay. When we arrived in Atlanta we were lucky to make our connection to Phoenix, where we will spend the next week at the Andre House.

WBA Phoenix

WBA Phoenix at the airport, en-route to the Andre House to begin their week of Service & Solidarity

Boarding our flight to Phoenix, we were all truly impressed by the way the crew reacted to meeting us. One of our participants, Ashley Robichaud began talking to a flight attendant about our trip and told her about our upcoming week of service and solidarity at the Andre House.

The flight attendant had never heard of the Andre House before, but spent a few minutes on their website learning more about the organization. She came back to where we were sitting and told Ashley that she grew up in the Bronx in a poor neighborhood where there were many homeless people. She asked how we felt about the people we'd be serving and the work we'd be doing.

She had no idea that services of that kind were available in Phoenix, and that she knew some people who could benefit from all the Andre House has to offer. She was impressed that our Service & Solidarity trips are student-led, and by the impact the program has not only on the people the participants serve, but on the participants themselves.

We chatted further with other flight attendants about the Andre House's services: providing meals, clothes, laundry services, and more. The crew decided to give us a bag full of peanuts and pretzels to bring with us to the Andre House. This generous gesture revealed to all of us the value of simple acts of kindness.

-Beth Gabert '17

WBA Manchester: A Whole New World So Close To Home

During one of our reflections Sam, one of our leaders, said "I love how you can get lost in your own city and still feel at home." The past couple of days, we have experienced a whole new part of Manchester that we never knew before.

Our week started off on Saturday afternoon, moving into Trinity High School's conference room. We spent our afternoon and evening settling in & bonding, followed by a movie, The Good Lie. The movie helped to give us a visual of the journey that refugees go through before, during and after their arrival to their new country.

WBA Manchester 2016

Sunday we had our off day, and regardless of the rain, we went tubing at Pat's Peak! Needless to say, we were the only people there! That night we went to a Vietnamese Mass which was beautiful. The fact that Catholicism is universal, regardless of language and culture, resonated with us all.

Monday, we had a special guest. Sue joined us to do a simulation of walking in the shoes of a refugee. This helped prepare us for our first day at the International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH). We were welcomed by Anna, the Americorps member at IINH. Our day was filled with in-office work in the institute: organizing closets, filing and shredding papers. After being at IINH, some of us went to volunteer at a fundraiser and others went to Elmwood Gardens to help elementary school students with homework. That night we got our exercise on and went to the Manchester YMCA.

Tuesday, we split up and some people went to volunteer in ESL classes at Hillside Middle School and Mclaughlin Middle School, while the rest of us stayed at IINH. Those at the schools learned first hand of the need that Manchester has for help in their ESL classroom. Those of us at IINH spent the day preparing an apartment for a family who arrived from Burundi on Wednesday. In addition, those at IINH played and spent time with eight children ages 2-22 while their parents filled out paperwork. The children taught us different games they liked to play. In the evening we all joined back together and volunteered at Elmwood Gardens.

Wednesday was a jam packed day! In the morning, we went on a field trip with the ESL class at IINH to the Manchester Millyard Museum. We learned so very much about the city we call home. Did you know that the reason all the streets are named after trees is because lumber was so important to the mills?! Then, we split into two groups. Some went to McLaughlin Middle School and worked in an ESL classroom and others stayed at IINH.

At McLaughlin, members of our group aided in a math and science class for ELL students. At IINH, we ran various errands for the clients: helping to grocery shop, get necessities at Wal Mart and visiting clients in their homes. We were thrilled to have alumna Lisa Carey join us for dinner! She shared with us her experience at City Year thus far!

Wednesday night we welcomed a family of three at the airport (photo above) who is coming here from Burundi. We came with two posters, anxiously awaiting their arrival. Upon their arrival, they immediately asked for pictures with us calling us family. It warmed our hearts. We are excited for the remainder of the week & that even after the trip ends we can make trips to IINH, Hillside, McLaughlin and Elmwood Gardens.

Student-Leaders Prepare for WBA (and SBA too)!

Campus Ministry's Service & Solidarity program is one of the most unique programs at Saint Anselm College. The program relies on the leadership of student leaders to prepare, guide, and experience the week-long mission alongside their participants during the winter and spring breaks.

Student leaders have come back to campus early to prepare for their upcoming Service & Solidarity trips. From finalizing paperwork to preparing the customized candles that each group will use during their nightly reflection, leaders have been working diligently to make their final preparations.

The leaders have put in countless hours of work to make sure that every part of their trip runs smoothly.

WBA participants arrive today for the Send Off Mass, and an evening together on campus, before departing on Saturday for their service sites.

Submitted by Joshua Post '16

South Dakota Update

On our first night we had the incredible opportunity to participate in a traditional powwow. We learned dances and immersed ourselves in the culture of the Lakota, laughing alongside them. The word of the day was humility (wah'wala). We were humbled by how they opened their hearts to us and allowed us to join in their spiritual celebration. We had buffalo stew for dinner to more greatly indulge in the Lakota lifestyle.

Working in the Re-Member workshopOn our second day, the word of the was respect (wao'hola). Our understanding of respect was illustrated through our trip to Wounded Knee where we learned the history, horrors, and brutality about the truth of the massacre. We listened to Ted, the director of Re-Member, speak about opportunity and wisdom of the elders.

During our visit to Wounded Knee, we heard Dakota High Hawk talk about details and the ugly truth of the massacre at Wounded Knee. We then had the chance to walk around the cemetery and spend time soaking in the reality of the 1890 massacre.

After our visit to Wounded Knee, we visited Feather II, the new 160 acre spot for the future of Re-Member. After returning to Feather I, we watched a documentary called "We Shall Remain" to learn more about the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.

When the documentary was finished we listened to a speaker named Inila Wakan talk about life on the reservation, culture, and hardships, including the lose of his 12 year old granddaughter to suicide. Inila spoke about how love is power and we are here to break down the wall of hatred and vail of darkness.

On our third day, we started work. Our word of the day was generosity (wawokiye). Half of the group went off to a site to skirt a local trailer. Skirting is putting insulation boards around the bottoms of trailers to keep the elements outside during the cold winters on the reservation. They spent time getting to know the family and playing with the kids and dogs. The other half of the group spent time in the shop sanding and putting together pieces for bunk beds using power tools. Both groups shared laughs and made several memories at the job sites.

In the evening, we were fortunate enough to hear another native Lakota share his story. "Uncle Will," a high school teacher, talked about hardships of the community while having a light heart and keeping us laughing. His words were inspiring as he reminded us to dream without fear and be warriors powered by love. He looked us each in the eye and told us we were sacred beings. He then shared his music with us by singing a few songs off of his albums he has made.

It's been an honor to be able to meet the Lakota people we have met so far and we are excited to continue on this amazing and humbling journey.

Feeling at H.O.M.E. in Maine

Hi from Maine!

Throughout the week at H.O.M.E our group has grown close to each other as well as to the workers and residents at our site. We've met many inspirational people like George, Ralph, and Sister Lucy who have taught us about the meaning of H.O.M.E as well as the struggles and joy of life.

Saint Anselm College, Winter Break Alternative, "Maine"

Sister Lucy is the heart of H.O.M.E. Both workers and volunteers look to her for advice. She has taught us, through example, to treat all people with the dignity that they deserve. Ralph has conducted two prayer services for our group that have been filled with wisdom and conversation about solidarity and God's gift to humanity.

Many of the participants have had engaging conversations with a new resident to H.O.M.E, named George, and he has given us all new perspective on what homelessness and poverty are truly like. His positive and cheerful attitude despite his uncertain future has made us all aware of our blessings and the importance of hope.

In our reflection last night we read that hope "is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."

H.O.M.E is a place that makes sense among the chaos and struggles in life and, as our group has learned, is a place where human dignity is the main priority.

With love,
MAINE

Words Cannot Express…SBA Costa Rica

SBA Costa Rica

Taking a break for a photo.

Love. Laughter. Hope. Humility. Determination.

These words are the closest we can come to describing our experience thus far on the outskirts of the rural town of Los Chiles, Costa Rica. Monday was our third full day of hard manual labor. We have come so far building a house for our family consisting of a loving grandmother along with her five amazing grandchildren. We have prepared all the walls, a complete septic tank, the mixing of concrete, and the house's foundation, all while playing and enjoying the hard-working company of not only the grandchildren but many children from the community. Our work has been done without the use of power tools. Yes, that means we have been able to enjoy wonderful conversation and laughter while working extremely hard in temperatures upwards of 90 degrees with high humidity.

Our group has formed incredibly strong relationships with numerous members of the Los Chiles community of all ages despite the lack of Spanish skills for the majority of our group. We have been overwhelmed with the amount of love, joy, and hope in this community. Every moment we've experienced has been filled with smiles, endless laughter, and esperanza (hope). The members of Unbound (Elle, Carlos, Louis, Javier) have been a great source of inspiration and communication; we're so thankful for each of them. We've been blessed with two amazing faculty members who have exceeded the wildest of our expectations. They're that great (and yes, Dan did finish his septic hole today with help from his friend Arturo).

We hope all other trips are having just as an amazing experience as we are. We can't wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us. Our group sends all of our love (that's a lot) to the rest of the SBA trips and the Saint Anselm community. We hope to check in with more updates later in the week.

 

Todo el amor del mundo,

SBA Costa Rica

 

Raking and Bonding – WBA "NOLA" Gets To Know One Another

Winter Break Alternative New Orleans, "WBA NOLA," raked on Saturday November 2nd and we had a great turnout! Most of our trip made the trek down to Nashua to rake sociology professor Tauna Sisco's yard, and her neighbors yard as well! As you can see from the photos, it was quite the job!

As it turns out the two leaders for the NOLA trip, Ann Lehto and Jaclyn Parolin, are from Nashua, NH and Ann's mom was gracious enough to host the trip for a nutritious lunch for our group to refuel and re-energize! NOLA had a marvelous day in Nashua raking and bonding!

Raking is one of the longstanding fall fundraisers for Winter Break Alternative and Spring Break Alternative participants. It offers not only an opportunity for students to get out into the community and do a little service, but also raises funds to help offset the cost of the Service & Solidarity Missions program.

It's also a great bonding activity for our participants. After all, there's plenty of time to get to know one another when you're raking — or jumping into the pile you're getting ready to bag up!

SBA Maryland… Feels Like Home

We have been having such an amazing time here at the school this week, and everything has really fell into place these past few days. Matt and Cathy really feel like we had a turning point on Wednesday. At reflection we used the song, Feels Like Home by Edwina Hayes, dwelling on how far we've come as a group in so little time together and here at the school.

Katherine and Jeff doing dishes after lunch!

All of the participants went about their "usual" routines in the school during the day. Then, at night we were busy! We attended Wednesday night mass at the monastery with the Benedictine Sisters. At mass, we heard from Deuteronomy 6, which speaks about teaching our children and our children's children of what we've seen. Here at the school we have learned so much love, joy, simplicity and lots of patience. Father shared with us how important it is to be mentors to these children and all that we have learned ourselves.

After mass, we shared a delicious pot roast and potatoes (and MORE brownies!) dinner with the sisters, as well as the girls from Kings' College in Pennsylvania, who are staying with the sisters for the week. It was definitely a unique and blessed experience to have everyone together.

From there, it was BENEDICTINE IDOL! The school invited both us and Kings' to perform along with many of the exceptional students. We collectively decided as a group to do "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction. (check our sweet video!) This was probably one of the greatest highlights of our week. It was incredible to see some of the kids get up there and blow us away with their singing, dancing, talents, and confidence. We felt our hearts fill up even more all throughout the night. It was a blessing to see some of the kids who have been reserved, quiet or nonverbal light up with joy.

THEN! After that, we headed back to the Berg Center (our sweet house) for the usual shenanigans (meaning, lots of food…) We had invited the girls from King's over, and we had a taco night and played quick fires and psychologist! We felt that it was important to reach out to them, and it enriched our day and week even more. To hear about other colleges doing the same kind of work we do here at Saint A's is even more inspiring. We absolutely had a blast!

Our reflections have been wonderful right from the start, and Matt and I have really enjoyed seeing the participants excel and voice issues related to human dignity, hope, living in the moment, patience and hoping for our lives to be more of joy and love – all that we have learned from these exceptional children here at Benedictine.

What's in store for us! – thrift shop shopping here at the school, dinner at the adult community center tonight, and a Benedictine Social tomorrow! We have millions of stories and memories of all of the beautiful smiles and laughter, and remember the struggles these kids (and the staff) face daily.

Thanks for all of your support and we can't wait to get to share all of our beautiful experiences with you all! (as much as we hate to think about leaving here in just a couple days…)

And a quick shout out to the rest of the SBA trips! We've been praying for you all week!

Matt and Cathy