Cortina Interview Project ||On Self-Reflection & Other-Centeredness

Roc O’Connor speaks on Self-Reflection & Other-Centeredness in Jesuit Higher Education.

What Cortina Was To Me: Galvanizing

The Cortina experience gave me a very real and human perspective on some of the most pressing social justice issues facing our world today. Most notably, my experience focused heavily on immigration. Through a half-week service trip and weekly volunteering at Pixan Ixim in south Omaha, I was presented with a salient example of the plights of modern immigrants in my own backyard. Relaxing around a dinner table and swapping stories in quasi-Spanglish was the best context for learning about individual immigrants’ decisions for coming to the U.S.,  their unique struggles within our own city, and their hopes and dreams for their lives. Nowhere in textbooks or newspaper articles could I find stories like I heard through immigrants firsthand. Combined with the information I was presented from the Cortina ethics class and conversations with fellow students, the valuable experiences in Cortina gave me a balanced view of the multi-faceted nature of immigration, as well as many other topics such as gay marriage, human trafficking, sustainability, the death penalty, etc.

Though my Cortina experienced has long since ended, the critical lens through which I view social justice issues continues to hone itself within the context of my education, my career decisions, and my political views. As a future dentist, I am cognizant of healthcare difficulties facing immigrants. My aim is to one day provide low-cost dental services to various under-treated populations. As a citizen, I try to be aware of current events affecting unjust practices in our world by listening to NPR, voting, and engaging with people of different worldviews than mine. Truly, the Cortina experience has shaped the way I approach my life. I live with greater gratitude for the opportunities afforded me. However, the concept of social justice mandates more than mere reflection. Social justice demands action, just as love demands action.  And it is through my actions that I hope to continually live out the values I acquired through my time at Creighton and in Cortina.

One word to describe my Cortina experience: galvanizing
-Theresa Greving, A Cortinian from 2009-2010

Theresa G

THINK: Emotion in Education

“If the communicative body is about the sharing of others’ embodied experience in their pleasure and happiness as well as their unease or suffering, emotion is absolutely fundamental to its functioning as embodied subject. So we need to find a way of better understanding emotion in human embodiment, and most particularly of attending to the social dimension of emotion. This suggests that a certain kind of education needs to be undergone and that all aspects of educational theory, practice and policy would need to be reassessed.” -Emily O’Loughlin, “Education and Embodiment”

How present is emotion in your education? What role does it play? What is the “social dimension” of your emotion? In what ways is emotion suppressed in intellectual traditions? How do you feel about that? 😉

THINK: Creative Classrooms

My Dearest Cortinians. Since you have a snow day, take some time to absorb and enjoy these videos on education.

Tyler DeWitt on making science fun.
This talk brings up an idea that I have been frustrated with throughout my studies as a biology major—the “cult of seriousness.” I want to be able to learn about the world around me in a way that allows me to share that information with other people. This leads to a problem of accuracy versus comprehensibility. Tyler is a PhD student at MIT, and so understands the need for clear, accurate language between scientists. But when this language gets in the way of his teaching he makes funny videos instead.

Sir Ken Robinson on changing educational paradigms.
Sir Ken demonstrates that what schools need today is creativity, and how they came to be lacking in it in the first place. Also, it is animated on a whiteboard and gives a shout out to Jesuit education. Do you think creativity is more important than test scores?

John Hunter’s world peace game
John Hunter has recruited his 4th graders to solve the world’s problems in creative but realistic ways. It’s worth watching just for looking at the 4-foot tall multilayer game “board.”

What are your ideas for a creative classroom? What learning environment has impacted you the most? How can you bring your gifts and talents into the world of education?

-Lauren D.

Monday Meditation: On Good Education as Problem-Posing

“Banking education resists dialogue; problem-posing education regards dialogue as indispensable to the act of cognition which unveils reality. Banking education treats students as objects of assistance; problem-posing education makes them critical thinkers. Banking education inhibits creativity and domesticates (although it cannot completely destroy) the intentionality of consciousness by isolating consciousness from the world, thereby denying men their ontological and historical vocation of becoming more fully human. Problem posting education bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflection and action upon reality, thereby responding to the vocation of men as beings who are authentic only when engaged in inquiry and transformation.” -Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed

How do you regard your education? Do you sit in the class room and participate in the banking model? Are you annoyed when problems are posed and solutions are not given? How does what you learn affect how you live? How is your education, and your submission to it, liberating you to become more fully human by inquiry and transformation? Is it?

THINK: Snow Days and Educational Privilege

As I watched the snow come down late Tuesday night (or early Wednesday morning), I couldn’t help but have a small desire to have my classes canceled yesterday.  I’m sure many of you were thinking the same thing to be met with either excitement or disappointment yesterday morning as you checked your emails to see if you would have to trudge your way to class.  As I thought about it more, however, I realized that we should be grateful for the privilege to be able to attend a top-tier private university.  There are so many people across the world and even in the U.S. that have an intense desire to attend school and receive even a basic education.  Some of them would even kill for even the slightest chance to attend a one-room school dozens of miles away, and we (myself certainly included) complain about having to walk a few hundred feet to go to our classes.

I don’t think we ever fully realized how truly blessed each one of us is.  We all have so many gifts, talents, treasures, friends, and families that bless our lives.  I encourage all of you to stop and think about just one thing in your life that you feel truly blessed to have received.  A friend that was put in your life, a mentor that has taught you a lot, a favorite material good that has improved your life.  I encourage you to take the time to reflect on how this thing has made a difference in your life and just be grateful.  Take the time to appreciate what you have and what you will receive, and don’t be afraid to pay it forward.

p.s. I’m sure many of you have seen this video, but in case you haven’t, think of this the next time you are having a rough day or are struggling to embrace your abilities.

-Logan H.

Advocacy Alerts

Thanks to the Creighton Center for Service and Justice Advocacy Team for sending these alerts our way!

DACA and the Affordable Care Act
Recently the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has declared that young, healthy immigrants who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will not be eligible for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. This means that although these young people are legally allowed to stay in the U.S., they cannot be covered for pre-existing conditions, cannot participate in healthcare exchanges, cannot receive Medicaid or any state or federal health benefits, and cannot participate in the Children’s Health Program. We believe that this exclusion goes against our Catholic faith to care for the common good. Sign a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services expressing your concern for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Immigration has been a hot topic in the recent presidential debates. An overwhelming 72% of Americans want to clear the path towards citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the DREAM Act offers part of that path.
The DREAM Act will take an important step towards respecting the human rights of young, undocumented immigrants. This key legislation provides an opportunity to gain legal status for undocumented students who entered the country before the age of 15, have been physically present in the United States for at least five years, graduate from high school, and/or complete at least two years of college or military service. Call on your members of Congress to support the DREAM Act.
Sierra Club
Stop the Tar Sands
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to make clean energy an important part of the State Department’s mission. We are extremely grateful to Sec. Clinton, and need to let her staff know that risky Canadian tar sands projects are inconsistent with her vision.
“Line 67” is a toxic tar sands pipeline from Canadian oil giant, Enbridge. Enbridge wants to greatly increase Line 67’s capacity, however this raises great concern because in 2010, Enbridge was responsible for the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Americans need the government to require a new permit for Line 67 and to ultimately block this pipeline. By letting the Department know that we’ve got their backs on clean energy, we can help them stop Enbridge and the tar sands.
Economic Justice
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Funding for Beginning Farmer Training Programs
As of October 1st, funding for the most important federal program to train the next generation of American farmers ran dry. If Congress doesn’t act quickly when it returns in November, this program, and the invaluable support it gives, could disappear forever.
In 2012 alone, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funded forty training programs that provided new farmers the business and technical skills that they need to build successful, independent farms. Don’t let programs like these fall by the wayside! Sign now to show your support for the protection of the BFRDP.
Interfaith Worker Justice
Hyatt Worker Rights
Hyatt Hotel workers across the U.S. have had enough. In some cities, workers have gone on strike; others have risked their jobs by talking about their working conditions. Now, Hyatt workers and allies are calling for a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels.
Hyatt workers suffer disrespect from managers. They also work very hard for low pay while risking serious injury on the job. In a recent report, Hyatt had the highest injury rate of housekeepers (studied at 50 hotel locations). As a person of faith, support the Hyatt workers in their struggle for dignity at work, and pledge to honor the global Hyatt boycott.
What we already know about the US government’s policies on armed drones and other such killings reveals violations of the fundamental human right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life. But the government is still keeping secrets.
Urge the President and Congress to release the secret legal memo, along with the rest of the legal and factual underpinnings for the killings, and to bring United States use of armed drones and other lethal force in line with our obligations to respect human rights; which includes complying with law enforcement standards when acting outside of zones of armed conflict.
Support Female Education in Pakistan!
On October 9th, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai was shot by Taliban gunmen, and after a bullet was removed from her brain, her condition is slowly improving.
The Taliban targeted Malala for her human rights activism. Malala has bravely spoken out for the rights of girls to receive an education. Her father ran one of the last girls’ schools to defy a Taliban ban against female education in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, and both Malala and her family have received threats from the Taliban in the past.
Send a message of support to Malala, Shazia and Kainat (two other girls who were injured while standing up for the right to education), as they recover from the attacks.
Resource for Upcoming Election
Ignatian Solidarity Network
The Common Good
As faithful citizens guided by the Gospel command to protect those who are most vulnerable, a coalition of national Catholic organizations  is working to build on the momentum created during the 2008 election. Four years ago, individuals and groups across the U.S. created a national Platform for the Common Good, which was ratified at the Convention for the Common Good in Philadelphia.
In 2012, our goal is to create common-good platforms for each state, and DC, which will be signed and delivered to candidates and public officials. Each of these 51 individual platforms will be written with the input of people in that state, and they will include a national preamble designed to outline a common-good perspective.
We invite you to join us in the coming months as we engage Catholic voters across the nation in the writing, signing and delivery of these platforms. Learn more about this initiative here!

Photo Friday: Girls + Education = ?

In response to the following charge by World Vision ACT:S, Elizabeth hung out in the common area to see what people thought Girls+Education equals. And then she took some photos:

Educating a girl doesn’t just change the life of the girl – it impacts her family and those around her. When girls receive equal access to education, they marry later in life, they have fewer children, they add great value in the workforce, and they know how to keep their families safe and healthy. Educating girls means that entire communities and countries are transformed.

Join us as we partner with 10×10 to celebrate the first annual “International Day of the Girl” on October 11. The goal is simply to get people excited about what can happen when you educate girls. You can host a party, hold small group discussions, or just get some people walking by on campus to answer the equation and snap a photo! (

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Wednesday’s “What’s Going on in the World?”

With labor day past and the official end to summer creeping up on us, I don’t blame anyone who isn’t all that eager to hear about the evils happening in our world. So, I figured that for this Wednesday after labor day, as a little homage, we could focus on positive labor oriented things happening in our world!

In Saudi Arabia there has been some progress and great support for integrating women into the work force. Especially since about 57 percent of Saudi women have university degrees, but only about 15 percent are in the work force. This article discusses Saudi Arabia’s openness to women seeking work and points toward the question, “Why do we educate our women and then expect them to just sit at home?”

Here is an interesting piece from Aljazeera that talks a little bit about the recent upward trend in migration from Spain to South America directly related to labor and availability of jobs. It’s an interesting view of immigration and labor outside of the United States. People are immigrating and looking for jobs all over the world.

This last article is about Greece’s new longer work week suggestion. The article also speaks briefly about their current economic crisis. It’s an interesting trade for more bailout funds. I am not sure what Americans would think if the work week was expanded in our country to cover our economic crisis. I guess we’ll have to see how the Greeks respond.

These aren’t issues that we usually hear about as pressing international news, however, I thought them important because they do impact many working class people around our world. I hope this helps us feel even just a little more connected to them.

Happy Wednesday!

-Michelle V.

Education Resources

This article talks about the need for the whole community to be involved in making schools. “Bad” Neighborhoods do not always result in “Bad” schools. The school can provide the lifeblood of a community and do tremendous community development work.

Liberty Elementary is the school that our speaker, Luisa Palomo, teaches at–check out the website to learn more about their community partners and how a successful school like this sets up their website.

This is one of the books that Luisa recommended and it looks to be an excellent read: Teaching With Poverty in Mind

Did you hear Luisa call her school a “Title 1” school? Confused about exactly that means? Read up on what Title 1 is and how it has changed since being passed in 1965.

One problem we talked about during the meeting was the idea that schools can end up looking like little factories–never specializing and always assuming that if you have a certain input, you will always have the same output. Poet and Essayist Wendell Berry has some ideas about what education is:

“The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It’s proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now call “information” – which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.” -Wendell Berry, Thoughts in the Presence of Fear

Our schools are places for individualized learning, for students to feel supported and to learn responsibility for the world and their interaction with it. For many students, as Luisa reminded us, that means that they have to be relieved of the burden of survival and adult worries. Classrooms need to be environments in which students feel safe and at home, while simultaneously challenged to make that home a better place, where they feel free to fail, while still trying to meet high expectations, and where they can be children, while still maturing. This is no small task, and what a joy to know that there are teachers like Luisa, and schools like Liberty doing the hard, passion-filled work of community building through education.