Why I Serve: Cullen Clougherty '19

It is difficult to find the words to accurately portray why I serve, and why it seems as if the rest of my life will be geared towards serving others. I have written this post five different times and have deleted every one of them because none properly explained my feelings about the Service & Solidarity program I am so lucky to be a part of, the places I have been, and the people I have met along this journey.

Cullen Clougherty '19I have been fortunate to participate on two trips to Detroit, and South Dakota; and lead two others to New Orleans and Kentucky. I could write a hundred pages about how each trip affected me and shaped me, and how they were all unique in their own way.

Each place and each person I have met has touched my soul in ways that I did not think were possible. I saw the importance of helping those who may need a hand, or were dealt a difficult hand in life. On each trip, I was also overwhelmed by the importance of the other aspect of our program, solidarity.

The way that I explain solidarity to others is helping your brothers and sisters who may need a hand in a time of need. When this definition was told to me, the person said that all of the seven billion-plus people on this planet are all our brothers and sisters, and we should look out for them, no matter what. This is what our service trips do, and why they are unique. We both serve those in need while simultaneously standing in solidarity with them and getting to them as our own kin.

During my sophomore year, I was added last minute to the SBA South Dakota trip which would travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and work with the Oglala Lakota people and an organization named Re-Member. I had no idea what to expect when I boarded our plane from Boston to Rapid City, South Dakota, and what transpired that week has forever changed me.

The Re-Member program was different than any other trip that I had previously participated on, as it was essentially half service and half cultural immersion. We spent three days in various reservation communities working on construction projects. The other days of our week were dedicated to learning about the history of the Lakota people, and the toll that government oppression has taken over hundreds of years. Hearing the first-hand stories from natives, and the daily struggles they face in one of the poorest counties in America rocked me to my core, and made me angry at the injustice that had, and continues to occur.

After experiencing many different struggles and issues on the trips that I have been a part of, and countless examples of service and solidarity, I finally found a piece of what I was looking for. On the third day of our SBA South Dakota trip, I told the director of Re-Member that I wanted to come back over the summer to work for a few weeks. I am not a religious person, but I felt that there was a higher power calling me to do so. I knew that I needed to come back to the “rez” because it was where I belonged for the time being. This feeling was a culmination of everything that I have seen and learned along my journey these past three years on my service trips, during leader training, and from my brothers and sisters around me.

I don't have the words to describe why I decided to spend last summer, and will return again this summer to work on the rez as a construction manager at Re-Member, or why I plan to move out there for the foreseeable future after graduation. I struggle to explain to my friends and family why I give up my winter and spring breaks for these experiences, returning to school early to help lead my peers, and to serve and stand with our brothers and sisters in their times of need.

But I know that it is what I am being called to do.

Someone once told me, “No expectations, just possibilities.” To me there is no better quote to describe the Service & Solidarity Program here at Saint Anselm, because there are no expectations of what your experience will be while on a trip. There are just endless possibilities.

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.

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