Letters to a Future Young Cortinian: “Vocation”

kristinletter

 

Dear Future Cortinian,

Welcome to the family! Your year will be full of ups, downs, and all sorts of experiences. A comforting fact is that you are a part of the Cortina family and support system. The key to making your college experience great is to have an open-mind and be flexible. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. I’ve survived my freshman year and you will too! I came into college hoping to become successful, and I had my heart set on majoring in biology to become a doctor. Now I’m still pre-med, but I’m majoring in Theology, something I’m actually passionate about. Through service, I realized that success is not being the smartest or getting a high-paying job. Success is doing something you’re passionate about. Wherever I am led on this path of life, I will be flexible and keep an open-mind. Maybe I am meant to be a doctor, maybe I’m not. I will let myself be vulnerable and listen to my heart. My prayer is that you will do the same. Sometimes all you need is a little patience and a whole lot of faith. Best of luck!

Love,

Kristin

Sarah’s Reflection on Service: Being a Part of a Welcoming Home

Two weeks ago my formation group had the incredible chance to help set up a home and greet a family of refugees from Bhutan. The family is Karin, a minority in Bhutan, and had been living in a refugee camp in Thailand.

The government puts out a list of what every refugee family needs when they come to the United States. This is the list we sent out to Cortina, friends and family to ask for donations. One plate for every member. One set of sheets for every bed. One couch. One table. It is a simple inventory list of things that have, over time, been deemed the things that every American household needs.

The five of us went on multiple Target runs, got donations from the community, and from Res Life. When Sarah and Emmett went to Target the first time, they made a really beautiful statement when they showed us the trunk full of blankets and pots and pans and other supplies. “Why get the cheapest stuff for this family?”  Emmett asked. “It seems sort of disrespectful doesn’t it?” It is very hard to imagine having a refugee camp being our only reality.  It was hard to imagine having to come to another sparsely furninshed home, already so confused, not understanding a single word, every experience new.

So, we began to make a new effort. Our goal became more than just setting up a functioning household. We began to try to make a home.

The night the family was going to land in Omaha, Emmett, Allison and I spent hours between the apartment, Target, and our own dorms, running around, setting up. Allison offered a beautiful piece of art she had made. We bought a tiny teddy bear for the little girl. We color coordinated the bathroom. I fabreezed the smell of cats away.  The apartment became cozy and welcoming.

Finally, the time came for the family to arrive at the airport. Our theology paper was due the next day, but Allison and I had already accepted the reality that we would be up all night, so we scooped up Sarah and headed to the airport.

There we met the interpreter’s family, a wild bunch of little kids. The most beautiful little family walked of the airplane. They were timid, understandably overwhelmed. When we got back to the apartment we showed them all of their new things, and welcomed them home. Allison and I watched nervously as the mom took a bite of a snickerdoodle we had made—her first taste of American food.

The most touching moment of the night was when they all shook our hands, even the six year old girl. They were tired after 48 hours of traveling, scared, confused, but, grateful.

I believe we truly made a difference in the lives of this family. I’d like to think that the red blanket we draped over the couch wasn’t just another source for warmth, but proof that they are welcome here, that someone here cherishes them. America is our home. We want it to be their home too. We want to be a part of that home.

So, I really encourage you to make an effort. Look at how the choices you make allow you to interact with people differently.  Smile at strangers. Give home- made art. Bake an extra batch of cookies.  Such beautiful lives surround you. Become a part of them.

-Sarah Peraud


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Molly’s Defense of Beauty: The Transcendence of the Animal Nature

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.”
– Che Guevara

I’ll preface this by saying that my political beliefs have been nearly everywhere on the spectrum. Currently, according to my voter registration, I am non-partisan, but judging by my hair, piercings, and undying love for Conor Oberst, you can guess which way I swing.

My dad, on the other hand, is an avid fan of Rush Limbaugh, no matter how risqué or allegedly racist his comments get. I have a theory that my dad’s just old and crazy, but I’m not sure that dementia can begin at age 47.

Every time I come home, it’s the same scenario: we discuss my classes, we talk about family drama, and we ease ourselves into a gentle political discussion. Two minutes later, Dad and I both realize that we hold completely opposite points of view. He brings up the standard conservative arguments – all of which I know, because unfortunately I’ve read every single Ann Coulter book published before 2010. I offer a few social justice-focused comebacks, but I can feel the tears of frustration welling up.

We’re misunderstanding each other.

In all reality, I don’t think my dad and I are that different. We both care for others, we both want America and the world to flourish, and we’re both pretty idealistic about our beliefs. But as is the case in most political arguments, we have different means to reach the same end. He believes a free market will most effectively guarantee human success, while I believe that, above anything else, love for others will save us.

Tim Bastian, a Creighton professor who spoke in last Sunday’s Cortina-sponsored Debate, is a lot like my dad. He’s an incredibly smart guy, he’s had decades of experience as a middle-class white male, and he’s extremely practical. And though I can agree with many things he said that night, one statement in particular struck me. He said that one of the most beautiful things about modern day humanity is our ability to trade freely and safely with each other.

Indeed, that is an astonishing and inspiring fact: humans have progressed so much that we can maintain a free market, exercising our ability to produce and purchase goods. What a true display of human creativity and potential.

However, Mr. Bastian, there are more beautiful things about humanity than our knack for creating free market systems.

I believe the most beautiful thing humans can do is transcend their animal nature enough to deeply care for one another, to disregard the savage “circle of life” and trust ourselves to create love instead of succumbing to violence and indifference.

There is absolutely no place for violence in the human race. The fact that we are conscious enough to recognize the humanity in others, the fact that we can create such deep bonds with one another, the fact that we have used our abilities to constantly improve the human condition for as long as our species has existed – for me, all of these facts point to the overwhelming goodness of people. Whether we are innately good or evil does not matter to me. What matters to me is that we can recognize when others suffer and that we have the full capability to do something about it.

Force yourself to care, no matter if you idolize Rush Limbaugh or Che Guevara, no matter if you voted for Obama, Romney, or Gary Johnson. Force yourself to stop polluting the earth with apathy, with things you don’t need, with trash and carbon dioxide and negativity. Force yourself to do more than simply exist.

Shout your indignation at the sky and run steadfastly to help your brothers and sisters who are suffering from injustice.

Because serving others in any way is the absolute most beautiful act of humankind.

Defend that beauty.

-Molly