“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

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“Go forth and set the world on fire.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola.

This quote summons a lot of ambiguous imagery. What does it mean to set the world on fire? Naturally, the image of demolition and devastation comes to mind when we think about setting something on fire. It’s a natural thought, especially given the current state of the world… In the last year, we have felt a dark shadow of turmoil and chaos from the political climate, racial divides and different forms of oppression. So how are we supposed to make meaning out of St. Ignatius’ words?

Perhaps it’s an opportunity to think about injustice in a new way. To think about “setting the world on fire” as a way to shine light on darkness. Sometimes, ruin comes before rebirth. And in a phoenix-like way, out of the ashes arises hope, strength and resilience.

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My name is Lucy Hancock and I am the new Cortina Community Coordinator. As a Creighton alumna, I have always believed in the Jesuit mission and values. Upon graduation, I moved to Hassan, India, to teach in an all-girls, catholic orphanage through Homes of Hope India. That was where it all started for me—where my fire was ignited.

Living and working amidst extreme poverty was the most humbling and heart wrenching thing I have ever done. I quickly discovered the painful realities of my privilege. Initially, as I was struggling to adapt to bathing with a cold bucket of water, malnourished children were begging for rupees in the dirty streets. It didn’t take long to spark my soul and awaken my heart to the need for social justice.

The lotus flower is India’s national flower. It grows only in the dirtiest marshes of water. The root is deep beneath the rocky bottom; but it somehow manages to push its way through the filth and marvelously blossom its pale pink petals atop the water’s opaque surface. The lotus, I discovered, was much like the disadvantaged people I was living amongst. Although they suffer and endure hardship on a daily basis, they push through and beautifully blossom as devoted and compassionate people.

Many times I saw acts of love amongst families, children and strangers alike. Their selflessness and generosity continues to inspire me, to this day. We are all capable of blossoming like the lotus, and like the people of India. We have a conscious choice to stay put in the dark, shadowy depths, or to push through and immerse as tenderhearted people.

That is what Cortina is all about. We are a community of compassionate people, seeking justice in a world that operates unjustly. Poverty, oppression, hunger, racism, privilege, discrimination, sexism, xenophobia…these are some of the topics that we confront with in our community and beyond. Cortina urges students to leave their comfort zones and courageously venture out together into the unknown.

By doing so, surely, we will light the way…and that is setting the world on fire.

What Service Has Taught Me

Cortina has taught me the importance of service. Not justice service, but what it means to go to the same service site, be with the same people, on a weekly basis. My weekly service site for the last three years, has been Restored Hope. Knowing that I get to spend time with the children at Restored Hope each week is what gets me out of my bed every Tuesday morning. I experience the heartbreak of the mothers and their children in the situations they are in. There is nothing more joyful than hearing the laughter of a child, playing hide and go seek for hours, or seeing a mother achieve her goals.

It is difficult to put into words how, not only returning to the same service site each week means a lot to both the kids and I, but returning semester after for the last 3 years. Restored Hope has taught me a lot about. It has taught me to be a role model, a teacher, a liberator, and it brings out the little kid inside me. From being a sophomore participant to being a senior formation group leader, I have grown. I have alongside the children and the mothers in multiple ways. Without Cortina I would not have encountered the place I get to be completely be myself at and my not yet my grown up self. I have learned more about the reality of life, by spending a couple of hours a week with the children at Restored Hope, than anywhere else. In the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ “Fall in Love, Stay in Love, and it will decide Everything.”

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ

 

Bridget Carter

 

Community Bike Shop

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-1-32-13-amWhile working at the community bike shop, we have gotten closer as a team. Our service site has allowed us to do hands on work while strengthening our communication skills. Every Friday we dedicate a portion of our time to something outside of ourselves in order to contribute to the greater community. Although we do not interact directly with the beneficiaries, helping behind the scenes is just as worthwhile knowing that we are able to fix bikes that would then be either donated or sold at an affordable price. We have been fortunate enough to have this opportunity to lessen the load on those trying to provide resources to those who have less access to them. This not only has the potential to contribute to physical mobility, but also social mobility. This experience has ultimately taught us flexibility and patience, which have become not only practices, but also virtues.

Immigration

This semester we have been learning about immigration. During one meeting, we watched the film “Lost in Detention” to get background knowledge about the current policy and treatment regarding undocumented immigrants. Currently a federal program called Secure Communities provides an option for local police forces to partner with the federal immigration services (ICE) in order to locate undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. However, these crimes can be as small as speeding. One woman who was pulled over for this was undocumented, and since she did not have a license, was arrested. She was then deported because of these new policies, leaving her family in the U.S.

Conditions in detention centers were unsafe and inhumane. Female detainees that accused male guards of sexual assault were never taken seriously. Male detainees were physically abused by guards. Even with evidence and testimonies, there was no justice for the detainees. In the typical criminal justice system, there are safeguards to prevent these things from happening. Undocumented migrants have no such safeguards and few protected rights.

So the question remains: Why not just avoid all this and enter legally? Well, legal immigration offers it’s own set of difficulties, as illustrated below.

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So, it is clear that legal immigration is not so simple, and that to avoid the suffering associated with detention centers and deportation, more comprehensive immigration reform is needed to solve these problems, including an easier path to legal immigration.

Hello from Ambassador!!!

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Since Ambassador is a new site this semester, we want to let everyone know what has been going on there so far. Ambassador is a long-term care facility for kids (and adults, but we work with the kids) located on 72nd and Dodge next to Creighton Prep. Most of these have tracheostomy tubes, feeding tubes, and some require oxygen and ventilators. The kids we work with are ages 6 months to 17 years old. Unlike different rehabilitation facilities that work on getting people in and out these kids are mostly here long term. This facility is not a hospital, it is the kids home, and the staff tries hard to make it feel that way. Each room is personalized to what the kid likes. As you can see above with the girl pictured, her room has art she has created, with help of her teachers, friends and family.

At Ambassador we do all sorts of activities. We like playing with toys, drawing pictures, painting, and reading stories. Sometimes we play in the play rooms, there is one on each floor. Each one has a TV for movies and shows, toys, and tables for books and games. Almost every interaction we have is educational. When we read stories we ask kids to identify objects and talk about what we are reading. We are helping these kids with important social interactions, with people other than their caregivers.

When reflecting last week the question was posed, “Why is it important for us to see this aspect of these kids life”.  Our group said, “I take so much for granted, I can talk, walk, feed myself real food, have the blessing of speaking and people understanding me”. It helps us understand and check our privilege at the door. We also have parents who are involved in our lives and who were from the start. Many of the kids here are wards or the state, or have parents who are relatively uninvolved. The kids who have parents who are involved usually go home when their medical needs are decreased.

Unlike other facilities or hospitals the staff have very few boundaries with the kids. These nurses call the kids “my baby” and hug and kiss them frequently. They even plan events that they think the kids would like. There are weekly outings to places in town like the Omaha Zoo, Children’s Museum, and Movie theatre. This summer we even had a prom. Link below!  It is so good for the kids to get this type of positive interaction with the staff. If they did not interact with the kids and just did their medical interventions, the kids would get no love. Even though most of the kids cannot communicate back to you, innately you just know that they understand the love you are giving them. Even though having such loving relationships with the kids makes the nurses, and our job harder, the benefits for them outweigh the hardships for us.

http://www.wowt.com/content/news/Caregivers-throw-Sweet-16-prom-for-Scribner-teen–383723531.html

Completely KIDS – Norris Middle School location (Fall 2016)

On Tuesday afternoon, my service group and I drive out to Norris Middle School to serve the Completely KIDS afterschool program. Participants are Norris Middle students, ranging between grades 6-8. The mission of Completely KIDS is to educate and empower kids and families to create a safe, healthy, successful and connected community. During this afterschool program, students are allowed to choose their own clubs to participate in. These clubs vary from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related clubs, sports, theatre, and even a Pokemon GO club. My service group of five is split so that there is one Cortina member at each club. I helped out with the STEM-based club called Building Dreams. The students have been working to remodel a car. Last week, they polished off rust of old wheel caps then spray painted it bright red. The finished car will be showcased at a project fair. What surprised me the most was that there were way more girls than boys in the club. The girls were the one taking initiative and making sure everyone in their groups had a chance to participate in that day’s task. It made me excited to see the stereotype of girls not being able to work with STEM related projects being broken.

The issue we see from doing service with Completely KIDS is that when students go home, many of their parents do not speak English making it difficult for them to help with homework. Some of the study body live below the poverty line and may not have a dinner meal when they go home. Many of the parents work more than job to support the family. Completely KIDS makes sure that students get help on their homework, participate in something they want to do, receive the attention they deserve, and are provided meals if necessary. My service group and I are excited to get know the students, learn about their ambitions, and see them grow with the opportunities given through Completely KIDS.

Media Monday: Inspiring Olympians

The Olympics are an opportunity for athletes from around the world to showcase their elite talents, abilities, and skills in front of TV audiences of billions of people. They are exciting, awe-inspiring, and fascinating to watch.

This Media Monday showcases Olympians that deserve the spotlight for something more than just their athletic abilities. Click on the links below to read about athletes and fans that used the platform of the Olympics to teach us all about courage, respect, care for others, and justice.

  1. Feyisa Lilesa: This marathon runner for Ethiopa risked his very freedom by using his silver medal finish to bring attention to the plight of and stand in solidarity with the Omoro people and to protest the Ethiopian governments persecution of the Omoro. Read more about his story at CNNEthiopian Runner

2. Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) and Abbey D’Angostino (USA): These 5,000 meters runners were both awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal, otherwise known as the International Fair Play Committee Award, which has only been awarded 17 times in Olympic history. They were given this award for the sportsmanship they displayed after they collided with each other in the finals of the race. Read the full story herehamblin_together-large_trans++qVzuuqpFlyLIwiB6NTmJwfSVWeZ_vEN7c6bHu2jJnT8

3. Liz Willock: This Uber passenger showed us that a small action by an unknown person can have a large impact on others. Willock was making conversation with her Uber driver, Ellis Hill, when she learned that his son was going to be representing Team USA in the shot put and that he couldn’t afford to go watch his son. Willock was not content with this, and started a GoFundMe page that raised enough money to send him to Rio. Read more here.

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4. Yursa Mardini and Rami Anis (swimming); Pople Misenga and Yolande Bukasa Mabika (Judo), Yiech Pur Biel, Yonas Kinde, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, James Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, and Rose Nathike Lokonyen (track and field): These members of the first ever Olympic refugee team overcame immense challenges, suffering, and grief and have all shone light on the crises faced by the millions of refugees that exist in the world. Read more about them here.

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I think there is something that we can all take away from the actions and stories of each one of these inspiring people. Have a great week!

 

Social Justice Hero of the Week, JFK

Social Justice Hero of the Week: President John F Kennedy

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In the last few weeks our country has seen the national conventions for both major political parties, so it seems only fitting that this week focuses on one of our past Commander in Chiefs. While John F Kennedy’s presidency was filled with radical ideas, his political ideals questioned, and famous failures, he also advocated for civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans. Many of his social programs dealt with calling the American public to action, stating that we don’t have an option to help and create equality, but rather an obligation.

“Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities.”

JFK’s domestic policy saw integration of races, going so far as appointing the first black members of a presidential cabinet, as well as devoting more land and resources to try and promote Native American relations. He advocated for economic equality and the eradication of poverty. His foreign policy, while tainted with the era of communism and WWII, included the development of the Peace Corps, and overthrowing communist regimes to free the people of countries such as Cuba.

While we don’t all hold the power that the president of the United States does, (nor will we ever really have close to that much power), we can still promote so much change. JFK’s idea that we need to let go of our privilege and set ways is a simple one. It should be the basis for us to claim responsibility in order to protect the rights of all human beings in all societies and in all ways.

That Good Info Friday (TGIF): Voting

This Friday’s good info is a little different. Instead of focusing on one topic, we’re tackling one giant topic: Voting.

The best info is that since we are on a college campus, we are all old enough to vote! No matter what side you’re on, voting is important because it is a way to be an involved citizen. All elections are exciting to watch, especially one where we have a woman as a presidential candidate and where there is so much to debate in our world. If you have the ability to vote, go out and vote!

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If this is your first voting experience, make sure you know the facts- do your research, talk to others with opposing view points, and really think about what you are looking for in a candidate. Try not to let political ads, videos on social media, or unverified sources swing your vote. Also make sure you register to vote and/or check your voter status. Here is a helpful link to answer all of your voting questions: https://www.usa.gov/voting. Get excited because there is a lot of good information out to help you be an informed voter. Share your good info with friends about voting and get excited to witness such a monumental election!

Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Muth

Our second alumni spotlight features Andrew Muth, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Check out a glimpse into his life as a liberation whatever!

Cortina Community: Tell us a little about yourself, including details about your career, family, volunteering, and anything else you would like to share.

Andrew Muth: I graduated from Creighton in 2008 and worked as a paramedic for a year before getting my medical degree from Creighton in 2013. I just finished my pediatric training and am now starting a fellowship in Clinical Informatics. I married Erin Blaha (’08 Alum) in 2009, and we have 2 boys (Alexander: 3, Elijah: 1).

CC: Describe how your experience in the Cortina Community has influenced your life/career path. What were some things you learned through your involvement in Cortina?

AM: My experience in the Cortina Community has shaped me into the person I am today. I learned how to be a person for and with others by actively engaging people in my communities. I developed strong relationships that led to my involvement in mission trips and other service oriented activities. Through this, I gained more perspective on life in order to critically evaluate the issues we face today and reflect on their solutions. Specific to my career, there is a significant amount of inequality in healthcare, and I always try to consider this when treating my patients and navigating them through the system.

CC: What is your favorite quote?

AM: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” -Dr. Seuss

CC: Who is your favorite Social Justice Warrior?

AM: Dr. Paul Farmer

CC: What is one piece of advice you would like to give to current Cortina students?

AM: Take advantage of all the opportunities you have through Cortina, Creighton, and the city of Omaha.

 

Thank you, Andrew for giving us a glimpse into your life!