Serve Well Blog

3.18.15

Where I'm From

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Post-Service Term Reflections, Transitions Home & Beyond

Before we can know where we are going, we need to recognize where we are from. At the Debriefing and Discernment Retreats, Krista Foundation Colleagues were invited to claim their roots and their present as they wrote poems prompted by the question, Where am I from?

Michael Davis, Justin Willis, Madie Padon, and Claire Smith share their responses here.

 

 Where I'm From
Mike Davis

I’m from…

The long lines of government assistance,

From the same line that formed my existence.

The lines that separated me from you,

The lines that labeled me as colored because you couldn’t accept my hue, truth.

I’m from…

Black mothers that take upon the roles of black fathers,

Fathers that were forced to forsake their own and encouraged not to bother,

Leaving my momma to teach me to tie my tie and fold down my collar,

I’m from…

How come YOU get to and I can’t,

From songs I didn’t like but was forced to dance,

From, if another cop looks at me that way I’ma…

From, never mind, I’ll just avoid that drama.

I’m from…

You’ll never go there, because where I’m from is nowhere,

Listen, I don’t think you understood me…

I’m from nowhere, no where you’re from

Or forsake the history from whence you come,

You wanna know where I’m from?

I come from long lines from which my history was hung

I come from the reminder of the history in which you shun.

Mike Davis

 

Formerly director of the Leadership and Mentoring Program for Urban Impact in Seattle, Mike Davis ‘12 is now a drop-in coordinator for the Union Gospel Mission's Youth Center.

 

 
Where I'm From
Madie Padon

I am from the beginning of the Nile with endless tilapia to dust filled roads where an oncoming truck meant you have to hold your breath for the next 2 minutes as it passed by.


I am from sneaky, shadow seeking geckos that I said goodnight to every night to the starch filled meals that seemed to have no taste.


I am from dancing in front of hundreds at a moments notice to carrying three unknown children in a 12 person van that somehow seated 15.


I am from riding side saddle on a motorbike for miles, praying to God that this won't be my last to calling random women Mama to show my utmost respect.


I am from red dust that would camouflage my feet to being one with the road to being touched and played with by random strangers, no matter how old.


I am from endless star ridden skies to beautiful blood red sunsets in a place that you've thought you had died.

Madie Padon

 

Madie Padon '12 taught biology and science at the Holy Cross Schools near Lake Victoria in Uganda.

 
 Where I'm From
Claire Smith 

I'm from the big leaf maple tree with the yellow slide and swing underneath,

From vegetable gardens and woodstoves,

Home cooking and families whose names are like legends in the Valley -- Zender, Strachila, Galbraith, Engholm.

I'm from 40 minute drives to "Town" to get groceries.


I'm from classical piano -- Mozart, Schubert --

From family outings to the city, to the theatre, to the aquarium,

From "Money can't buy you happiness, especially if you don't ever use it," and "Love is something if you give it away."


I'm from sit and stand in church.

Liturgies and Sunday School Songs,

Kyrie eleison and Vespers ‘86,

From Holden's Village Center ceiling and Railroad Creek footbridge.


I'm from the university.

From words like "juxtaposition" and "neocolonialism."
I'm from sestinas and short stories,

From "liminal spaces" and "intersectionality"

From walks around Spanaway Lake and late night runs to WinCo.

I'm from silent solidarity, staring at computer screens until our eyes blur and we have to dance around, singing in silly voices until we feel like humans again.


I'm from study away.

From papel picado, chicharrones, and tlayudas

From Día de los Muertos and drinking smoky, burning mezcal until I like it.

From being a güerra, güerra and a señorita.

I'm from misunderstandings and putting my foot in my mouth and talking around my meaning.


I'm from urban bike paths and taking the MAX.

From crisis lines and grupos de apoyo

From "1 in 3 women" and "You deserve to ALWAYS feel safe"

From trying to accompany, to create healing spaces

I'm from Big Sky and Big Horn Mountains

From pow wows and basketball tournaments

From "What kind of Indian are you?" and "Maaaaan, Teacher, you're mean!"

From trying to accompany, to create safe spaces


I'm from Ruined for Life

From tense grocery conversations and game nights

From dinner tables and cooking disasters

I'm from silent solidarity, trying to hold the woes of the world until our eyes blur and we have to dance around, singing in silly voices until we feel like humans again.

From strangers making a home together.

Claire Smith

 

As part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Claire Smith '12 served domestic violence survivors in Oregon and was an academic assistant at a school on the Crow reservation in Montana.

 
Where I'm From
Justin Willis 

I'm from my childhood. Rain, rain, and more rain. The Pacific Northwest at its finest. The Olympics, the X-games, Major League Baseball. I am going to be there one day. Moving from city to city, new friends, new plans. Diversity and public education shaping who I am.

I'm from college. Deepened faith and silent retreats. Still one of the most moving things I have done. Sit with your thoughts and see what happens. Science, so much science. But also social justice. Social justice and science. Best friends, lost friends. Confusion, questioning, anger, pain. Discernment. Choosing what ultimately brought me most joy.

I'm from JVC Northwest. Conversations about 2% milk. Is this even important? Solidarity, social justice, spirituality, community. Mac Attack. Guy, Dave, Courtney, Eddy, Ben, Stephanie, Irena, Jordan, Nic, Todd, Julia, and so many more. Never getting the balance right. Inadequacy, regret, and many mistakes. But ultimately so much joy.

I'm from life after service. Stress about the future. Tests, tests, and more tests, and probably more tests after that. Being welcomed home by my parents. Surviving through adversity and coming out better on the other side.


Justin Willis

 

Justin Willis '13 served in the Recuperative Care Program at the Old Town Clinic, working alongside Portland's homeless population.

 


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