Service Trip Reflection: Madi Felipe at White Rose

What is service? I found myself thinking this upon my return from my Spring Break “Service” Trip. I kept looking back at my week and tried to determine what services I provided. I never fed the homeless, built a house, or tutored kids. Did I serve? Yes? Maybe? Honestly, at first I didn’t know. But then I started thinking about my experiences with my group and the people at our host site, the White Rose. We shared laughs and knowledge, food prep and clean up duties, floor space and house work. We were together, we were whole. We listened and spoke with intention. We created a safe space where all of us felt comfortable sharing opposing, contradictory, and scattered thoughts and feelings. We served each other. By becoming vulnerable and open we were able to be honestly present physically, mentally, and emotionally for each other. No one needed a hand out, no one needed food or clothes or shelter, but we did need love, acceptance, and community. We provided each other with the support that allowed ourselves to be so truly authentic that we could connect with ourselves, and each other, on a deeper level.
I realize now that those actions were my forms of service. Being a supporter and friend IS an act of service. Just staying in the room talking to the people on meal prep or dishes; asking questions about themselves so time could go more quickly and create a more pleasurable environment, IS a way of serving them. There might not be a physical reminder of the service I provided, but there is a profound change within the people I interacted with, as well as inside myself, that proves to me how much my presence and openness mattered to this experience.
I learned so much this past week about myself, but I know that would not have been possible without the service of the people around me. Their authenticity and intensity was contagious. I was there to serve them, but in the end I would say they served me much more than I them.
I want to send my gratitude to the coordinators of the trips, my wonderful White Rosers, and all the people I came in contact with in Chicago. Through learning this new definition of service, I have come to the conclusion that I can dedicate my life to the service of others without changing any of my future goals. Service is a mindset and attitude just as much as it is an action. Motivation matters, and I plan to use my motivation to live as a servant of humanity.

-Madi Felipe

Monday Meditation: On The Listening Project

What I love about the listening project is that we are taking ownership in the beginning steps of effecting change in the community. We haven’t actually met anyone from the community that we are serving yet; everything that we are doing is behind the scenes. It is unlike any service that I have done before but I think it is getting at what service is really meant to be about. Although we may be growing from this experience and learning from each other through the process, we are really trying to do what is best for the community without being preoccupied by our own agenda. -Olivia M.

Being apart of the tLP has been inspiring. We’re able to be with people who want to make an impact on the community in Omaha. This project will work and continue to progress with the new generations of Cortina to come. We hope to one day look back on inCommon’s Park Avenue community and be proud of what we see. But this isn’t just a one time application of listening. It should be everyone’s goal at the beginning of Cortina to become a better listener and utilize these newfound skills to become more active off of Creighton’s campus. I encourage anyone who is interested in this sort of service to join this project and make a difference. -Ray S.

As a white, straight, Christian male, I pretty much constantly second-guess every action I take that has to do with “doing something for others.” I always question if I am selflessly serving or if I am just using my unearned power to help people and make myself feel good. When I learned the listening project was run largely by white, straight, Christian males, I immediately feared it would be another example of those in power telling others what they needed. I have never been so happy to be wrong. The listening project defies every stereotype of the imperialistic, ignorant “helper.” Calvin and his team refuse to tell the Park Avenue community what they need, and they refuse to stop asking. The new community development center is going to be focused entirely by members of the community. Working with the Listening Project has shown me that I really can serve others without fear of being pious or imperialistic. -Westin M.

Being a senior and having done service with many organizations throughout my four years, there has never been a time when I felt like my service could really make a difference for a community. (That’s not to undersell my other experiences, because I do think that the relationships I have built have been transformative – hopefully on both ends). By participating in tLP, I think we are really, and hopefully, going to help inCOMMON better serve the people of the Park Avenue neighborhood by getting to know them. Over the past few months, in anticipation of graduation, I have been thinking about what a community center would look like if I were able to participate in the creation from the get-go. But, when Calvin explained the vision of the Park Avenue Commons, I got to hear and see the plans for so many of the dreams I had for a community center. I really feel like I am participating in something that will change a community for the better. -Elizabeth S.

You guys get what tLP is all about now, but something I realized tonight in community time is how applicable this project is to our daily lives. I know I have experienced the frustration of not feeling listened to or valued. Learning some tools on how to better my own listening abilities gives me hope that we can have better dialogue. I thought it was inevitable, people won’t listen; in retaliation, I would refuse to listen to them. Let me tell you I have made and kept lots of friends that way! In case you couldn’t detect my intense sarcasm, this type of scenario never helped any of my relationships. I can honestly say that by employing the type of empathetic, engaged, and, as Nico so eloquently put it, active listening we can begin to really hear people and change our attitudes, views, and, potentially, our lives. -Madi F.

In what ways can you deepen the listening in your own life? What resources lie just behind a door down the hall? How will you know? How often do you find yourself asking open-ended questions and really caring about the answer? How can you develop a posture of interest? How will that benefit you and the community?

Madi’s Thoughts on Community: It Depends on Us

Hi my name is Madi and I am a member of the Cortina community. Cortina. What is there to say about Cortina? It’s one of those things in life where words really don’t do justice to the meaning, entity, and experience that Cortina is. I hope that my short post here will sufficiently express the motivation of the program and give a brief insight into what Cortina means.

To me, the Cortina community is a place that I can go where I know that everyone around me is a feeling being. That might sound a bit wonky, but hear me out. These people feel in a way that is evident, present, vivacious, and extraordinary. The feelings flow freely, discourse is a constant, and opinions are made well known. There is little sense of apprehension and a great sense of trust. The community is a living, trustworthy, warm entity that is made up of all the wonderful people who have put themselves on the line to be accepted (or denied, always a possibility) by their peers. As with any situation in life, there is always fear that one/one’s ideas will be rejected, shot down, or dismissed; however, within the Cortina community I feel that fear is greatly diminished. The reason I feel that this is the case lies in the fact that everyone in the community is here with purpose, intention. Those intentions and purposes cover a large spectrum of things from being devoted to service, to learning more about their religious/spiritual life, to making new friends, to even living in an amazing dorm. But, no matter how different those intentions might be, nobody just happened into this community by chance. Everyone made a choice, a commitment to this community and THAT is what makes Cortina stand out. We are all committed, purposeful individuals who have banded together to share our passions, our struggles, our ideas, and to engage in life in a very different way.

I have learned lots about the people I live and thrive in this community with, but almost more importantly I have learned lots about myself. I have learned, through the help of my community, that it is ok to get excited about ethics. It’s ok to nerd out on the latest One Direction song. It’s ok to sing Spice Girls at 8am. It’s ok to talk about female genital mutilation in everyday conversation. It is MORE than ok to express my true emotions, have them challenged, and have them change. More than anything I have learned how to grow and accept and love even when it is difficult.

I have had a wonderful experience so far in Cortina and I know it can only continue to get better through the year. I hope that who ever reads this realizes that this is not a pitch for the community, it is not a fancy post I put together to attract any particular crowd. This is just my real experience and I wanted to share it with people who care to listen.

May you too be able to grow as a person, expand your mind, and create new friendships wherever you go. If you are looking for a place to do so at Creighton, Cortina is a great place to start. But if there is anything I have learned from living in a community, it is that community can be built wherever you want it to be built. It is not a place or physical structure. It is an understanding and love that resonates with the people involved. It is made and sustained by those who want it to exist. It depends on the individual. It depends on me. It depends on us.

-Madi