“El Salvador: Another Vietnam,” A Reflection by Loriana Harkey

As we near the 25th anniversary of the murder of the Jesuit/UCA Martyrs, there are numerous events on campus to inform students of history behind this tragic day. In the 1981 film titled El Salvador: Another Vietnam, I learned core similarities between the war in El Salvador and the Vietnam War. Because the film was made before 1989, the Jesuit martyrs were still alive, but this film provided a solid background and understanding of why the murder would occur in the near future. Dr. Tom Kelly also further explained concepts that were brought up in the film.

One key similarity between the two wars was the use of the counterinsurgency method. This is when both combatants and their supporters, which includes innocent, unarmed people, are killed alike. Dr. Kelly compared this to the saying, “If you drain the pond, the fish will die.” Though we are not proud of it, the U.S. used this method during the Vietnam and El Salvador wars.

The war began when there was a group that disagreed with the Salvadoran government. There were people who supported the government, and there were those against it. Those against it were called guerrillas, or rebels. These guerrillas had no mercy on anyone associated with the government. They destroyed anything and anyone in their path. Similar to the rebels in Vietnam, they started in the sky and bombed people overhead from planes. Then, they came to the ground as groundtroopers and shot anything they saw.

In the film, college students just leaving class fell facedown on the ground to beg for mercy and not be harmed. Some even played dead. These attacks were much more severe than drive-by shootings. They were thorough, well thought out plans of murder, mutilation and destruction. Though some families were able to flee to Honduras, the remaining families were undoubtedly massacred. The guerrillas used tactics to get you to leave before killing you. One way, according to Dr. Kelly, was to take your child and cut his or her arm off in hopes that this traumatic experience would cause you to leave or join their side. To this day, there are still Salvadorans with only one arm. In one case, 136 bodies were found in a church, and 120 of them were children. But that is not the most depressing part. These children did not die of gunshot wounds, but of machete wounds. One woman from the film teared up as she retold the story of what happened to her son. He worked in agricultural business, a job completely unaffiliated with supporting or going against the government, yet he was taken by guerillas to the top of a mountain and cut into pieces. Needless to say, these deaths were highly gruesome.

Seeing these images from the film reminded me of the Holocaust. The limp lifeless bodies just piled like packages really helped me understand and have much empathy toward the devastating and plain evil nature of this war. Under President Carter, the U.S. eventually sent help to El Salvador and from 1971 to 1981 to train El Salvador soldiers. From 1980 to 1981, the U.S. sent more money to El Salvador than they had ever received in the past. Unfortunately, the money was not put fully to good use as the U.S. intended. Because the Salvadoran military officers received 1 million dollars a day from the U.S. during the war, they basically gave the guerillas weapons because as long as the war continued, the officers would keep getting money from the U.S. When a country is not financially secure, money-hungry actions such as this are bound to occur.

Though the Vietnam War did not exactly match the outcome of the war in El Salvador, the film and Dr. Kelly’s explanations show that even a couple of similarities, like the counterinsurgency method and no mercy fighting style, can be a red flag that any country is going down a fatal path.

For more information about the 25th anniversary of the Jesuit/UCA Martyrs, visit http://blogs.creighton.edu/jesuitjustice/

What’s Up In The World Wednesday

This Wednesday it was announced that the United States and China have created a joint plan to curb carbon emissions, in hopes that other nations will follow. While the plan was announced today, the two countries have been working on it secretly for over nine months. You can read more about the plan here. What do you think about this response to climate change? Is it enough? Do you think other countries will follow the lead of the number 1 and 2 contributors of carbon emissions and take responsibility?

Speech Communities: “So That’s a Thing” by Kaylee Stankus

“I have to write a paper for Cortina English on a word or phrase used in my speech community, so that’s a thing.” One phrase that I find myself, as well as my friends, using a lot is “so that’s a thing.” The literal meaning of the phrase poses a lot of questions. What qualifies as “a thing”? How do we know if it’s a good or a bad “thing”?

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In my community of friends and Creightas, the phrase is almost an ending to whatever we are discussing. Instead of just ending the statement normally, we find ourselves unnecessarily ending it with “…so that’s a thing.” For example, if I was talking with Sarah, she might say “Today my boss asked me to stay late at work, so that’s a thing.” In this situation, Sarah included “…so that’s a thing” because she was hinting to her audience that it was something that she didn’t want to do but felt like she had to do.

We use this phrase in many different ways. I often use this phrase in a form of a question. If someone explains something that I might not believe right away, instead of saying “really?” or “for real?” I might say, “that’s a thing?” Sometimes it’s used sarcastically when we are angry or annoyed with something that has happened recently. Such as, “Today my politics teacher assigned 100 pages of reading due by tomorrow, so that’s a thing.”

Personally, I don’t mind the usage of the phrase, though this paper makes me realize just how often we use it. Since I’ve been writing and discussing this topic with my friends, I started noticing just how often I say it. I also realize how some people outside of the speech community might be confused when we use it in our everyday conversations. Whether it’s used sarcastically, as just a statement, or as an expression of disbelief, “so that’s a thing” will always be “a thing” in my speech community.

Post-midterm election coverage

The Republicans took control of the Senate during the midterms elections on Tuesday. You can see a map of the Senate election results here.

Locally, Democrat Brad Ashford defeated the longstanding, Republican incumbent Lee Terry in the race for the District 2 Congressional seat. This was the first time a Democrat has won this seat in 16 years. You can read parts of Congressman Ashford’s victory speech here.

The midterm election might have had a record low. However, states in which races for the Senate were competitive- such as New Hampshire and Colorado- inspired higher voter turnouts. You can listen to broadcast about the low voter turnout here.

Speech Communities: “Magis” by Kate Albrecht

magis“Magis.” A Latin word. A Jesuit Value. An utterance frequently heard on Creighton’s campus. “Magis” can be seen in colorful sidewalk chalk scrawled on the mall advertising the #MagisMondays, can be heard in addresses to wide-eyed freshmen during Welcome Week, and can be spoken in casual reference to the new Magis Core. Yet, what does Magis really mean to the larger Creighton community?

When I first started here at Creighton, I was initially excited when I heard about how Creighton was unifying itself behind the Jesuit values and this sacred idea of Magis. Magis, as defined at Welcome Week, means more not in the quantitative sense but more in the qualitative sense of better or greater. Magis shows how Creighton strives for excellence in all things be it academics, athletics, the arts, or simply moral living. Yet, I was disappointed to find that that Creighton was using Magis in a less sacred way in the naming of the new core curriculum.

Magis appears in the name of new Magis Core as seen at http://www.creighton.edu/academics/magis-core-curriculum. This use of Magis as a marketing strategy designed to appeal to perspective students who are concerned with the return on their investment in a Creighton education cheapens the use of the word Magis. Magis becomes a cog in the capitalist society, having been chosen for its efficiency and slogan potential.  The more we use casually use “Magis Core” — like when a sophomore said to me “I am so jealous that you get the Magis Core,” or when a student in my RSP group complained “Ugh, we have to go to another Magis Presentation!” — the more we diminish the original sacredness of this age-old Jesuit value.

It is the duty of us, the students of Creighton University, to wrestle “Magis” back from its cheapened value. It is our responsibility to use this and all the Jesuit values in a respectful manner, remembering their original sacred meanings. That is truly doing more!

Speech Communities: “I Can’t Even” by Shannon Mulcahey

This begins our series from the Freshmen Cortina Composition class about word choices in speech communities. Enjoy!

In a world where Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram rule the lives of teenage girls, there are several new words and phrases that are dominating the pop culture. Social media has become people’s personal diary. Emotions are expressed in 140 characters or less; people’s best days are captured in a single picture. The restrictions social media has made on articulating feelings has led to new words in our culture like “swag,” “YOLO,” and “selfie” in order to portray situations in as few words as possible. “I can’t even” is another example and is used out of frustration, ignorance, and efficiency.

A few weeks ago, I was over at a friend’s dorm room because we needed to catch up with what was going on in our lives. As the conversation progressed, I found myself not being able to share all of the emotions I was feeling. I continually said “I can’t even do this right now” because I was not feeling comfortable enough to talk about a recent event that had happened. I was using “I can’t even” as a way to avoid an emotional meltdown. I knew if I expressed my emotions I would become vulnerable.

The evolving social media aspect of present-day society has contributed to the lack of emotional output girls are willing to express in person. There becomes a disconnect and a lack of trust between people. All people have to do now is sit behind a computer screen and tweet out their feelings in the comfort of their home instead of having face to face interaction and discussions about emotions. The words that I choose to speak have been affected by what others around me are using. For me, using “I can’t even” has revealed me as one to be more emotionally reserved, and it has become a refuge in maintaining my emotional wall. I also value efficiency, and this phrase allows me to quickly summarize all the emotions that go on in my head. Because of that, I will continue to say “I can’t even,” but I will not let the phrase become so instilled in my vocabulary that I am not able to share my feelings with my friends when I truly need to. There comes a point where people need to balance the relationship they have with social media and how they express themselves and figure out how much they want it to affect their personal life, which is a step that I have taken and encourage others to do as well.

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Public Policy, Elections, and Making Legislative Change

For this Sunday’s Formation Time, we welcomed Creighton and Cortina alum Patrick Carter to speak to the community about public policy and how it can create justice for all. Patrick graduated from Creighton in 2010 with a degree in Justice and Society. Upon graduation, he completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. Patrick currently works with Minnesota Department of Human Services as a legislative liaison. Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.27.00 PMPatrick provided great insight into the legislative branch and emphasized that you have to understand the system before you can make change. He shared ways how everyone can make an impact on public policy, from bringing ideas to legislators to meeting with your congressperson about a certain issue to contacting an executive leader with your concerns about a new law.

Patrick’s talk was fitting because of Election Day on Tuesday. As Patrick said, every election has a lot at stake, making it especially important that we exercise our right to vote. Here are a few resources to help educate you about important local, state, and federal elections this year as well as important voting information:

Douglas County Election Commission — find your polling place in Omaha, sample ballots, and more.

Voting Requirement/Process by State

Nebraska voter guide — the Omaha World-Herald‘s guide to elections in Nebraska. Nearly every major newspaper has a site like this, so non-Nebraskans can find a similar guide at other major newspapers.

Ballot Hero — sign up with an account, input your voting location, and learn about the candidates looking for your votes on Tuesday. (for Nebraska voters only)

League of Women Voters — create a personalized ballot to take with you to the polls on Election Day!

NBC News Decision 2014 — a nifty guide to this year’s Election Day that will be great for tracking key races across the country. Keep a close eye on Republicans to see if they takes control of the Senate.

Thank you to Patrick Carter for sharing your knowledge with Cortina. And remember to vote this Tuesday!

What’s Up in the World Wednesday

After treating Ebola patients in West Africa, a New Jersey nurse refuses to obey official’s instructions and seclude herself at home after being quarantined against her will. You can read the full story here. Do you think that people who contract the Ebola virus have the right to refuse seclusion?

Last night the Kansas City Royals defeated the San Francisco Giants in Game 6 of World Series, 10-0. The winner of the World Series will now be determined tonight during Game 7 in Kansas City. Read more about the decisive Game 7 here. Can the underdog Royals take the Series with a home field advantage?

Corteama Series: Meet Sarah Peraud

I read Madi’s intro Cortina post. Like Madi, I like procrastinating on homework, and I like talking about myself. So here we are.

I’m Sarah. I’m a senior formation group leader/recruitment chair. I’m a JPS major with French and Gender Studies minor from St. Louis. Please don’t ask me what I’m doing after graduation. It will probably involve law school.  (Please don’t ask details.  I will have a panic attack. You will have to hold me while I cry. It might get weird for both of us. )

I love sharing the things I love—that’s why I’m the recruitment chair: I LOVE Cortina. So I figured the easiest way to get to know me is for me to share a list of things I love with you.

I love my family (if you ask me about them I’ll never shut up. They’re seriously so cool.)

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I love my house. I live with some real wackos in a house called Hollywood.

I love feminism.

I love my puppies (just look at that little face).

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I love avocados.

I love pizza.

I love potatoes A LOT.

(I was super hungry when I wrote this.)

I love reading.

I love politics.

I love Restored Hope.

I love riding my bike. (P.S. I have a big car and a big bike rack and extra bikes. If you ever want to ride one, let me know. I promise I’ll want to go with you.)

I love how many places I get to call home and all the people I get to share those places with.

I love disposable cameras. (This is an excuse to show you super cute pictures of my friends.)

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(P.S. Emma used to be blonde.)

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I love getting to go on the Cortina journey for the third year.

I love you all. Hang out with me. Be my friend please.

Fin.

Peace,

Sarah Peraud

Business, Faith and the Common Good Symposium: A Reflection by Loriana Harkey, Part 2

The second presentation I attended at the Business, Faith and the Common Good Symposium was given by a representative from Grameen Bank. Grameen Bank in Omaha opened in 2009. Erika Arguello has a history of dealing with harsh experiences and overcoming obstacles, but she uses this to inspire and help others struggling with similar situations. Grameen Bank is a way for low-income individuals to make a living by taking out loans. This bank also offers financial knowledge to help its customers manage their money. Ms. Arguello spoke little English herself because most of her customers cannot speak English. Though there are multiple locations of Grameen Bank, such as in California, Washington, and Minnesota, the majority of the people from Omaha who use this bank are Latina women. Ms. Arguello talked about how passionate she was about her job and about how much she truly loved to travel to help others outside of Omaha. This presentation was actually one of the few times she had to use her public speaking skills and though she was admitted that she was nervous, I personally thought she did a superb job. I even got to practice my Spanish speaking skills by asking her a question in Spanish during the question and answer session after her presentation.

The focus of the presentation was a video in which a man by the name of Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh spoke eloquently about helping the poor and less fortunate. He talked about social responsibility and how producing something as simple as yogurt can help fix the issue of malnourishment of children in Bangladesh. If two cups of yogurt are given to a child once a week for one year, that is equivalent to giving that child their full health back, because the yogurt contains all the nutrients that a child needs. He also spoke about how charity is when you give money, but it only has “one life” because once you give it away it is gone. But with a business, like Grameen Bank, it recycles that money, and puts it to work to develop a business for the less fortunate and continuously provides for them. He mentioned that first of all, it is important to realize there is nothing wrong with the poor, but there is something wrong with the framework of society because it does not allow the poor to thrive. And to do so, we need to engage in social business, but not to make a profit. We need to do so with the right intentions, to help the less fortunate. His last words of inspiration were as follows, “The world is run by ideas not theories. We made the rules, so we can change them. Don’t be a slave of your own rules.” In other words, he wants us to not restrict ourselves in the methods or ideas we have to help the poor, even if they are not as popular as other ideas like charity or do not seem as good as other ideas. If we start small and are successful with that small business, we can always grow larger. But it is harder to start big and have to downsize because our ideas were too far-fetched and not well thought out or supported.

After the video, Ms. Arguello spoke specifically about the Grameen Bank in Omaha. She gave the following scenario: If I person wants a loan, then Ms. Arguello, searches for at least four other ladies who also want to a loan. Through this process, there are no papers or identification required, a concept most banks would not allow, but rather Ms. Arguello comes to each lady’s house and helps them fill out an application. Grameen Bank has a partnership with Wells Fargo. This means that if the ladies do not have a bank account or are unable to use one, Ms. Arguello personally helps them set one up, even though she admitted this is not a job requirement. She simply does it because she cares so deeply for these ladies and remembers similar struggles from her past life. In her words, “discipline, unity, and hard work is the recipe for success.” Ms. Arguello also gave an example of how she was able to help a woman get a loan without her having a social security number, but the only reason this was possible was because she had good credit. Ms. Arguello not only helps people get loans but offers solutions on how to develop strategies to pay back the loans. Many of the customers do not know how to manage their money, so this is a skill she focuses on teaching to as many people as possible. She also is willing to help them have transportation to get to the bank or, as seen in a previous example, she is willing to go to the home of the customer.  It was evident that Ms. Arguello worked above and beyond her job requirements, and I am so happy I was able to be present for her presentation.