What does Cortina look like?

Part 2: Service and Justice

In Cortina, we strive to not only have a strong community with each other, but to connect with communities around us through participating in service and working for justice.

Take a look below at some of the service and justice activities our members have participated in within and outside of Cortina!

Cortina Weekly Service

Below is a look at some of the service experiences Cortina students have participating in weekly service with our community partners.

city sprouts

One of our community partners, City Sprouts was named a finalist for the 2017 First National Bank Community First Awards earlier this year!


This service group that attends weekly service with YMCA Ready in Five took time outside of their normal service time to help a new mother.

heider halloween

Children from community partner Completely Kids attended a Halloween party thrown by Heider Hall, Cortina’s home residence hall.

Cortinians in other service experiences

Although weekly service is a requirement of all members of Cortina, Cortinians are alos encouraged to be involved in other service or justice activities to which they feel drawn.

Below are pictures from Cortinians who participated in Fall Break Service and Justice Trips in Indiana, Nebraska, Omaha, and Axtell, NE.

trip 4trip 3trip 2trip 1


What Does Cortina Look Like?

Part 1: Community

Cortina couldn’t exist without a diverse, yet strong community of members and leadership. Our current Cortinians come from different backgrounds and have a vast variety of perspectives and experiences. One of the most important aspects of Cortina is the respectful sharing of ideas, beliefs, and experiences between its members. This process of sharing and storytelling is an integral part of our Cortina classes, our weekly Formation Time meetings, and our weekly newsletters. Take a minute to learn more about what our community looks like.

Formation Time Community Building Experiences:

FT bonding 1

Forming strong relationships within the community is a priority, as this makes it easier to have vulnerable and honest conversations with each other. 

FT bonding 2

Several of our weekly meetings focus on community building and include sharing fun experiences.


Pictured are bonding outings to Coneflower creamery, Spielbound board game café, and gardening at Dr. Kurtyka’s house!


Learning in Community: Cortina Classes

comp class

Freshmen in the Cortina Composition class taught by Dr. Kurtyka, are encouraged to build their community while learning about other communities around them. The pictured trip to Aromas coffee shop in Benson was part of a project analyzing the use of language and space by various communities.


Each Cortina class has a class chair that lends support to the students while providing opportunities to expand learning and apply class knowledge to current events in the community at large. The Sophomore Philosophy class chair, Anu Kovilam developed a series of “News Hours” in which members get together to discuss current events in the context of the material studied in the philosophy class.


Sharing Perspectives Virtually: Excerpts from our Newsletters

Our weekly newsletters include space for members to share their individual ideas, viewpoints, and experiences with the community. Take a look at some of what this year’s Cortinians have shared.


Sophomore Cortina Intern, John Santner with on lessons learned in his freshman year: “You always get what you give—to any experience. Give yourself some grace. Always assume the best, not the worst.


Junior Service Co-chair Andrew Bodlak on the importance of communicating with others with different viewpoints: “I think it is fundamentally false to ever close yourself off from dialogues with a person, just because of what that person believes.”

cara and sonya

Freshman Cara O’Brien and Sophomore Sanya Tuncan on sharing experiences with others: “We are kind, strong, smart, and beautiful human beings who have the power to make changes in this world. Let’s walk together in solidarity.”


Cortina Community Director, Lucy Hancock on gratitude: “When reflecting upon gratitude, I think it’s vital to know your roots and pay homage to those deserving.”


Junior Service Co-chair Emily Schaefer on the Cortina Community: “If you let it, this community will change you. It has challenged me in so many ways, and it has provided a space for me to grow as a person.”




Where in the world are our Cortinians?

My Semester in France By Co-Recruitment Chair Michelle Doyle

Since I was a junior in high school, I knew I wanted to be a French major and one day go to France to better learn the language. So as I ended my first semester of junior year and got on a plane New Year’s Eve, toasting to a New Year, what I didn’t know was that I was toasting to something more waiting in France for me…something that will be a part of me forever!

Living with a host family in France opened my eyes to a new way of living and challenged me to think about mine. I was especially challenged when I started to notice that every Friday and Saturday evening, my host family would make time to have a drink together and then enjoy a two to four hour dinner discussing life.  At first, sitting and talking, especially in French, with people from 7pm to almost midnight was exhausting. However, after a month, I found myself impatient for these dinners, but didn’t understand fully why.

As the months followed, I noticed a change in myself as I spent more time talking to my host family or going out to dinner with friends. I finally started to understand what had changed in me one night in April when I was walking out of a movie. As I was going to my bus stop, I saw two girls and a boy to my left outside of a restaurant at a high top enjoying a beer and laughing. I questioned what they were still doing out because it was a school night, but then it all came together: The French purposely take time to have a drink together, eat long dinners, and talk for long periods of time because of the importance they place on relationships, and it was starting to become a value of mine as well.

I remember towards the end of the semester that one night there were four different countries represented at the dinner table. People were speaking German, English, and French in all different directions. As I looked around as my host mom made homemade French crepes, I realized the deep and fulfilling meaning behind this specific aspect of the French culture. I recognized it in the meaningful and personal relationships I had made because of the time I had taken to do so. These relationships were enriching my life by bringing joy of fellowship, community, and simplicity.

So the treasure that was waiting for me in France wasn’t just the cuisine or the French language itself, but rather it was a new way of living. It was a treasure that shined brighter and has transformed my life. As I have been back in the United States, I have implemented spending more time with friends and family, and as I head back to Creighton for my senior year, I want to host friends for a French “prendre l’aperitif” (having drinks and small snacks) and make time to really talk with them. I like to think the change in me can be explained as the following: First semester junior year, when spending time with friends and family, I would have been stressed about all the things I had to do, but now after this intercultural and life-giving experience in France, when spending time with friends and family, I am no longer stressed but giving them my complete time. In the words of De Jean de La Bruvère, a famous French writer, “Être avec les gens qu’on aime, cela suffit”, – to be will the people we love, that is enough.

“Go forth and set the world on fire.”


“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.


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.


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.


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.