Serve Well Blog

Entries tagged 'Urban America'

2.4.15

Ruined for life by relationships
by Tamara Caruso ‘11

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Children and Youth, Community, Education, Community, Education

Tamara Caruso ’11 first tasted the struggle being present and being productive during her two years of service in Grays Harbor, WA and Honduras. Now in her second year of teaching, she continually draws on what she learned about community and service during two years of service.

 

 

"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time, but if your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together."

 

This quote by Australian Aboriginal elder Lila Watson has become the driving force of my approach to service and working for change.  It echoes as I look back over my service years as a Jesuit Volunteer in Grays Harbor, WA and as a teacher in Honduras.

 

Did I go to help? My original motivation for these years of service was to, as the JVC motto goes, “be ruined for life” and to find answers to my questions about how to work for positive change in our world.  But in both experiences, I was at first hindered by my desire to be productive and make an impact.   

 

My placement in Grays Harbor, one of the poorest counties in Washington, had a very vague job description, and besides coordinating an after school tutoring program, I found myself often bored and frustrated as I searched for meaningful work.  I understood but had trouble accepting the value in commuting by public transit through the rain and snow for an hour and a half just to spend a half hour lunch with my middle school mentee.  I went to numerous meetings at nonprofits and community organizations where I was never sure of my place but wished I had a purpose.  

 

Feed the Hungry, a free lunch program my placement offered, taught me to embrace the work of just being present—of the Krista service ethic of “staying for tea.”  There, I was able to cross the barrier between the volunteers in the kitchen and guests in the dining room.  Instead of staying at my assigned volunteer post, I sat and ate lunch with guests, listening to their stories and building relationships. There, I learned how my liberation was bound up in theirs, and how we could serve each other.  It came down to acknowledging the dignity in each other and to exposing my own poverty and isolation.   The privilege of driving my own car from point A to point B and making or buying my own food and eating it wherever I choose keeps me confined in my own world.  But in Grays Harbor, I was part of the community. I experienced and participated in the relationships among bus riders and drivers and I witnessed the family that was created through this communal free lunch.   I also gained a deeper understanding of the history and complexity of this struggling town’s economic issues. All from just being present. 

 

Although I learned a lot as a Jesuit Volunteer, I was left with even more questions about the injustices I experienced and felt overwhelmed about how one person could work for change within such a complex system.  To continue exploring these questions, I served another year as a teacher at a Catholic bilingual school in Honduras.  I thought I was bringing fewer expectations to my service, but this question of what I was doing met me square in the face when I finished grading the final exams for my first quarter.  That night, I sat on the floor crying, feeling like I had failed my students because many did not pass my exams.  Thankfully, an experienced friend helped me realize that the reason for not passing was less about my teaching and more about the broken education system and the challenges many students and families faced.  My students were operating in their second language and lacked a solid educational foundation due to the instability of relying on mostly young, inexperienced volunteers as their teachers.   At home they dealt with challenges ranging from family substance abuse to living with distant relatives because their parents were working in the states to help make ends meet.

 

Again, I found that by focusing on building and learning from relationships rather than productivity, I could grow in my understanding of the complex issues in Honduras, and be liberated by the people of Honduras from some of my own personal weaknesses and ways that my culture and upbringing held me back.

 

So now what?

 

I know that I have been ruined for life by encountering a multitude of complex issues and connecting with beautiful people who suffer as a result of these flawed systems.  I often feel very overwhelmed when I reflect on these issues and cry out for mercy for these people whom I have grown to love, but don’t know exactly what I can do.  

 

For the last year, I have been completely consumed by my first year of teaching. When I am in the classroom with my students, I am 100% present to them.  While some teachers give assignments and let the kids work while they grade papers or answer emails, I am usually so wrapped up in my students and the learning that is happening that I totally lose track of time and end up rushing to wrap up class and get them out the door.  

 

I have a wonderful opportunity to affect change by being present to my middle school students’ development and working to broaden their worldview.  I hope to help them grow to become more compassionate, understanding, and able to bridge cultural and socioeconomic differences between people in our world. Not only do my volunteer experiences enter into my class discussions and interactions with students and staff, but they motivate me to evaluate my school's service program and figure out how to make it much more intentional. I would like to grow this program so we are not just raising money and goods, but are building relationships, learning about issues, and growing as individuals so our liberation may be bound up with those we are serving. I also want to incorporate reflection, discussions, and maybe research into these issues and communities we are donating to. I must make these service experiences matter, as an educator, by applying what I learned and sharing my understanding, in order to help lead my students to the same growth in awareness so that we are not just helping others, but walking alongside them.  

 

1.30.15

Nominate a Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Law, Microenterprise, Poverty: Urban US & International, Preparing To Serve, Arts & Culture, Business, Community, Economic Justice, Education, Environment, Faith/Theological Exploration, Global Citizenship, Healthcare, Homelessness, Intercultural Development, Peace & Reconciliation, Poverty: Urban US & International, Preparing To Serve

The Krista Colleague Cohort Program is the heart of the Krista Foundation. Nominated by community leaders, 17 young adult Krista Colleagues are selected each year. Colleagues are committed to a sustained period of voluntary or vocational service of at least nine months and motivated to serve by their Christian faith. The Foundation community journeys alongside Colleagues before, during and after service, empowering them to transform service experience into lives of service leadership.

Acceptance as a Colleague includes a $1,000 Service & Leadership Grant to be used at the intersection of vocational interests and commitment to serve. The Foundation pays for four years of the Krista Foundation annual Service Leadership conference and debriefing retreat. Additionally, each Colleague commits to serving as a peer mentor with future Krista Colleagues, developing global citizenship through leadership in retreats and conferences. 

Nominations are due by March 20th, so nominate today!

Click here for nomination criteria or to complete the online nomination forms!

Questions? Please contact Program Director, Stacy Kitahata

Please LIKE, POST, and SHARE this link with any potential nominators.

-The Krista Foundation

1.28.15

What Guatemala Taught Me About South Seattle
by Krista Colleague Jerrell Davis '14

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

 "Sometimes you make choices...sometimes the choices make you" is a saying that resonates with Krista Colleague Jerrell Davis, who was recently featured in the South Seattle Emerald. After a lifetime of making choices "that were rarely the most popular and usually not the easiest",  the Seattle Pacific University student chose to study abroad in Guatemala and return this winter to serve at a hospital for people with special needs. His service has changed the way he sees his community and himself.

Read how in the South Seattle Emerald.


 

7.14.14

Between Opportunity and Risk (It’s still all Good)
by 2014 Krista Colleague Janjay Innis

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Social Work, Community, Education, Peace & Reconciliation

Today's ServeWell post is by 2014 Krista Colleague, Janjay Innis. As a child in Liberia, West Africa, Janjay lived in a community that even in its imperfections, she says, "mirrored the kingdom of God as I envision it." In this post she reflects on the June 22nd "Service in Perspective" event which explored the recent conference theme "Going Public: Complex Faith within a Complex World." Her insights are richly informed by years of bridging cultures, working in conflict transformation, a MA in Divinity from Boston University and most recently as a Social Justice Advocate at her volunteer service placement with Tacoma Community House. Thank you for sharing Janjay!

Between Opportunity and Risk (It's still all Good)

Values ground us. They orient us into the world in ways that are uniquely ours and when they are rooted equally in the love of self and neighbor, they help us embody and become love. At this intersection, where our love of self ( the realization that we are exceptionally and wonderfully made in the image of God) begins to inform our love of neighbor ( the realization that everyone else is also exceptionally and wonderfully made in the image of God) is where the Krista Colleague Program has intentionally positioned itself as a resource to assist young adults as they maneuver through the tensions that arise on their journey to authentically accepting and living the truth that we all have a common humanity and that irrespective of the things that stratify us, all people want to be loved, respected and have their personhood affirmed. I am grateful that the Krista Foundation not only states its intention to help its Colleagues process the happenings along this journey, but creates spaces for that processing to take place.

Based on the Krista Foundation value of "mentoring community," defined as "investing in future leaders by recognizing and leveraging peer and intergenerational wisdom and experience," colleagues gathered on June 22nd to discuss what about the 2014 Krista Conference theme, " Going Public: A Complex Faith in a Complex World," excited us and what about the theme challenged us. As Colleagues old and new and Krista Foundation staff shared their thoughts, the resounding conclusion I gathered from this conversation was that we all desired two things: to be our authentic selves when talking about our faith whether we were unwavering, questioning or uncertain about our faith and to actively make room for and be in conversation with those who think and believe differently than we do.

In my own reflection, I expressed to the group that I saw the theme as an opportunity to reclaim and redefine my faith tradition (Christianity) which for valid reasons has been pushed to the sidelines as it has been interpreted in a plurality of ways that have done more damage than good. I believe the dominant voices who have spoken on behalf of Christianity have distorted its true value and I want to be part of a new cohort of leaders who will reintroduce Christianity as a tradition rooted in love. This age-old tradition, which has its foundation in Judaism, is the story of a people who attributed all of their triumphs to an invisible, but omnipresent God and made a bold declaration that this God was also with them, accompanied them and held them in their most trying times. For me, what makes the story of Jesus (a particular interpretation of the Hebrew people's story) so compelling is that Christians believe Jesus was God incarnate (in the flesh) and walked on the earth just to be in solidarity with us in joy and in pain. That is love and it will give my life the utmost meaning to be part of telling this story in the face of injustice and oppression that God is present and because of this divine presence, we can join in loving the world into a new reality where we aren't merely tolerating difference, but building and crossing bridges amidst difference.

My challenge is to live into and audaciously act on this value, especially in spaces where my opinion may not be popular and might even be scrutinized as overly sensational. I believe my opinions about the relevancy of faith in our world to be as much intellectual as they are emotional, but I admit that there have been many times that I have been silent, unable to find the words or speak in the midst of my peers. Perhaps I've made a premature assumption that my peers don't want to hear about faith (especially as it's expressed in mainline traditions) because of the judgment, exclusion and stifling ways its attempted and sometimes succeeded in policing people's lives, but I'll never know if they are truly disengaged until I engage. I'm at the juncture of opportunity and risk and I am certain that it is the right place to be. For this reason, I vow to bring faith into the conversation whenever I see fit -- faith that offers models of hope, peace, reconciliation and community. I'm sure there will be times I'll fall flat on my face, but I even more certain that there will be times that my opinions will be a refreshing approach that will illuminate conversations and real life situations. In all of it, I trust that God will give me lots of grace to stay in the conversation.




4.15.14

What Holding Hands Can Teach You
by Krista Colleague Neshia Alaovae '12

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Community, Healthcare, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections

In many ways, my year of service began two weeks after it was scheduled to start. Though Joseph's House placed great importance on being mindful and fully present in the moment, I spent my first week there distracted by how unfamiliar this new world was. On my third day at Joseph's House, one of the residents died and the sudden initiation into the immensity of my work for the year was overwhelming. I was being asked to form genuine relationships from the moment someone entered the home to the moment I would escort that same person into a hearse. I felt so different from the people I was being asked to become one with. I was young, educated, and healthy. They were older, destitute, and dying. How am I going to do this, I wondered. How am I going to fit here?

A week later, I was at the bedside of a resident named Brad. It was my first time holding vigil by myself for someone who was near death. I was acutely aware of how Brad's labored breathing was causing my anxiety level to rise. His inability to speak left me speechless. I was nervous being so close to death, and even more mystified about what exactly I was supposed to be doing.

Not knowing what else to do, I reached for his hand. He squeezed my fingers with a strength that surprised me. I pulled my chair closer and shut my eyes. Quieting myself, I focused all of my attention on his breathing. Slowly, I inhaled and exhaled until our breaths were synchronized. Little by little, I realized how intense this moment must be for him. My breaths came easily, supported by lungs that were full of vigor. His breaths were short and rapid, maintained by a body reluctantly shutting down after its long struggle with cancer.

I looked down at our hands and for a few seconds I could not distinguish mine from his. I stared at our intertwined fingers trying to figure out why it was so difficult to see what belonged to me and what belonged to him. Then it came to me: our skin was the exact same shade of brown. We were a perfect color match. In my 22 years of life, that had never happened before. No one was ever my exact brown. Not anyone I encountered studying abroad in Zambia, not any of the models on my makeup bottles, not even anyone in my multi-racial family. No one but this stranger dying beside me. In that moment, something clicked for me.

The Krista Foundation places great emphasis on equipping Colleagues to be practitioners of intercultural competence with tools before a year of service as well as support during and after that service. There is a realization that everyone brings to an experience his or her own rich, complex cultural history. The challenge is to find a way, in the midst of what seems foreign and uncomfortable, from your own sense of normal to a place of understanding and empathy. We can spend so much time fixating on the things that divide us, that we forget to slow down, listen to each other's shared breaths, and see that our hands are meant to be held.

Brad passed away soon after that quiet afternoon. I thought of him often as I held the hands of many others who came through the Joseph's House door. No one was my exact shade of brown, but that didn't really matter. What I learned about Brad after his death was inspiring. Before his cancer, he had been a well-known advocate in Washington, D.C. for those who were homeless or suffering in the margins. He was eloquent, bold, and deeply spiritual. He began his own non-profit, dreamed about making a pilgrimage to India, and was in the process of dictating his life and philosophy to a friend so that his legacy of courage would not be forgotten. My stereotype of everyone at Joseph's House being poor, helpless people who needed my privileged service was shattered by Brad. He did not need me. He was not impressed by me. He was not inferior to me in any way.

On the contrary, I needed him to teach me how to see past the differences I had been taught to fear, and find a new way to grow in curiosity and compassion. The magnitude of how he lived and the grace with which he died still motivates me to be fearless. But the biggest lesson he taught me, the gift I will never be able to repay, was holding my hand on his deathbed. He had enough strength to refuse my presence, and yet he didn't. Brad took my hand, held it with the last of his energy, and taught me how to truly accompany.

In my experience serving in hospice, when someone is dying that person no longer cares about all of the ways that made him or her stand out in life. What matters most in those final moments is knowing that even if that person did not receive it in life, in this moment he or she is seen, heard, and adored. By holding my hand Brad taught me to make the effort to suspend my cultural lens enough to truly see, deeply hear, and come to adore those who seem different. I spent the rest of my year trying to do that, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to as well. I have learned that when all else fails, when I cannot seem to find a way to bridge the dissimilarities between myself and another, to hold out my hand. Even if the back of our hands look different, I know that the skin of our palms will be the same. That is enough.

2.26.14

Little Things Console Us Because Little Things Afflict Us
by Nikkita Oliver - Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Intercultural Development, Law, Arts & Culture, Community, Education, Global Citizenship, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

Little things console us because little things afflict us.
- Pascal

 

I recently attended the "RACE: Are We So Different?" exhibit at the Seattle Center as part of a Krista Foundation outing with the Krista Colleague community. Once inside, I found myself at a unique display including a binder full of notecards where many visitors expressed both contempt and reverence for sports mascots.

A number of the commenters self-identified as Native, illuminating the trauma and harm that sports mascots inflict on them, their tribes, and communities. Juxtaposed to these heartfelt truths were the thoughts of those who see no problem with the manner in which sports teams have co-opted Native cultural images and in many instances commercialized the most stereotypical Native images. As if the dialogue were not complex enough, there were those who self-identified as Native who took no issue with the mascots and maybe even saw other issues as more concerning.

One comment stood out vividly. A member of the Tlingit tribe described what they believed to be the gravest issues facing Native communities. They discussed the life expectancy of Native males and the drop-out rate of Native teens, stating, "These issues are far more important than sports team mascots." To many, Native mascots do not seem like a big issue, but often it is the things that seem the smallest that have the greatest impact.

As a brown person in the white institution of law I constantly deal with small nuanced forms of racism that exist because of larger ones. The larger ones will continue to exist because we are afraid and/or unwilling to deal with the smaller forms of racism.

There is an overall acceptance of the co-optation of cultural assets in the United States with disregard for the impact on communities and people. Additionally, rarely do the owners and creators of those cultural assets receive any sort of recognition or payment for the use of their image even when the image is being used for profit. This process further contributes to the damage done to a community or cultural groups psyche and continues to propel a negative and oppressive relationship between the "minority" and the "majority"1.

While some non-Native people may not see the problem, and may even point to to those Native people who take no issue with it to legitimate their own point of view, the reality is there are Native peoples who are offended by the use of their cultural assets as mascots. When considering racial and ethnic concerns that may seem minute, it is important to remember that big things are often made of smaller things. A small cut can very easily become an infection and a small change can be the catalyst needed to spark a big change.

Dr. John M. Perkins speaks of these little things in his work. When I was in college I sat in a room of young leaders at Seattle Pacific University eager to make change in the world. He told us the key to community development is understanding that the most obvious problems are often symptoms of a larger underlying illness. He told us, "rarely is the solution to the most obvious struggle the root cause of the problem". He encouraged us to consider the small and often times overlooked concerns, especially if those are the concerns the community is point us towards.

He then shared with us this story:

A team of community developers arrived in a neighborhood. They interviewed the people, did research and prepared a list of things they believed the community needed to solve. This list had hundreds of items ranked from the most important to the least. The community members' response to the community developers was that the rat problem was the most important issue to address. The rat problem was ranked in the lowest portion of the list the developers created. Despite their own ideas, the community developers listened to the neighborhood and addressed the rat problem first. As the rats disappeared so did most of the list.

Dr. Perkins shared this story to remind us of two key principles in community development: The small things matter and a community knows itself better than an outside community developer.

At the University of Washington Law School, I listen to people daily discuss our systems and struggles - rarely reflecting on their own role in a problematic system. They hardly ever consider the importance and value of community voice and in particular those communities that are marginalized and disenfranchised. In these spaces there are few people of color, and like those who shared their opinions in the binder at the race exhibit, we do not always agree on the solution. This often becomes a tool of division, co-optation, and/or further marginalization of those voices who speak in opposition to the majority opinion.

Listening is of the utmost importance in addressing any and every situation. If we do not first listen, we will not know how to act in ways that promote wholeness and reconciliation. Too often in U.S. culture do we rely on our formal education (and our privilege) as clout for why we should lead or be in charge. We are not very good at following those who have less formal education, though the community members have far more experience and knowledge regarding their community.

Mascots may seem like a small issue, but when we consider our generational memories of historic racial violence and present afflictions we can see that the psyches of people of color (and white people) have been damaged by big things sustained by small consistent actions and inactions. This small act is the continued poking and prodding on a large wound and emblematic of how we often devalue other people and their cultures. Mascots may not seem like a big deal in light of drop-out rates and mass incarceration, but they are small piece of the puzzle in addressing the root causes of both individual and institutional racism. Our willingness and humility to eliminate the "small" things are a way we show our love and respect for humanity and lead us towards addressing the "larger" struggles.

I believe that we would better serve each other and society if we learned to see multiple solutions, no matter how big or small, as viable and equally necessary; to address the mascots, drop-out rates and mass incarceration all at once.

The work of reconciliation is not easy and often happens in the least obvious places. Reconciliation, like a journey, happens one step at time; sometimes in small steps and sometimes in large strides. We often do not know the value of our small steps, but without them we would not have made it through the journey. Listening and acting on the small things makes the big changes possible.

 

1 The use of quotations around "majority" and "minority" is to signify an important nuance in the use of these terms. It is not to say one group is more major and the other more minor, but in this instance referring to specifically numbers or the size of the population of people. The majority being the larger quantitative group and minority being a smaller quantitative group. In the United States the use of these terms in this manner is appropriate, but in a place like South Africa, where the minority (Dutch/white South Africans) were in power and the majority (Native/black South Africans) were not, these terms must be used differently. 

7.19.13

Staying to See
by 2012 Krista Colleague Tyler Hobbs
Part One in a Series

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America

In my first months of teaching, I asked my students to explain integrity. Visualize an intersection, said Alex, a tenth grade English Language Arts student. In each lane, from each direction, there are drivers, passengers, and cars; each driver is going somewhere different, but each vehicle momentarily shares the same intersection. Integrity is standing in the middle of the intersection when all the lights turn green. If you can find a point from which to dodge the cars yet see who is driving them, well then you probably have integrity.

Alex suggests that to be integrated with a seemingly chaotic world, one must take the time to know it. This fifteen-year-old with failing grades and an impressive aptitude for sarcasm hasn't read Aaron Ausland's Staying for Tea, but seems to understand it. On that fall day when I had so often thought my teaching inadequate and my students disengaged, I was reminded what it meant to stay for tea-to see the cars from the middle of the intersection-and how incredibly difficult that can be.

When the academic year first began, my passions for learning about race relations, poverty, and gang violence were subdued by my inadequate comparative experience. How could I discuss race as the only white male in the room? How could I discuss poverty as a private university graduate? How could I discuss gang violence as a lifelong suburbanite? What I have learned, and what Staying for Tea reminds us, is that accompaniment begins not with shared experience but with sharing experience. Accompaniment does not require common ground, just the recognition of common humanity.

It is not an easy feat - I didn't know what it meant to have a father in jail; I didn't know why college wasn't their priority; I didn't know what it meant to have parents work four jobs. They didn't know what it meant to never think of race; they didn't know what it was like to leave your front door unlocked; they didn't know how it felt to have too much food. Yet together we have learned that understanding is important, but is not essential. We have learned acceptance - a surprisingly simple notion that requires only the recognition of ourselves in others and others in ourselves. That we have loved and been loved, lost and been lost, disappointed and been disappointed. We share in our humanity. That is enough.

When the death of Trayvon Martin first began to circulate in the news, some students were angry, others indifferent, others disappointed, but all were affected. My students ‘got' Trayvon Martin -- racially, culturally, experientially - and expressed a deeper empathy driven passionately by the absence of acceptance, the absence of Trayvon Martin's human recognition. My students saw a young man who wasn't understood, wasn't accepted, and was so very much like them. And as my students saw themselves in Trayvon Martin, so too did I.

Before George Zimmerman was acquitted, I had asked my students, for what reasons do you believe George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin? Was racial inequity the presumptive catalyst for Trayvon's death? Was Mr. Zimmerman's access to a deadly weapon to blame for his actions? Was it legislative inadequacy that justified Mr. Zimmerman's rationale? Yes, yes, and yes, depending on which student you asked.

Of course, neither I nor my students know George Zimmerman. I do not know why he called Trayvon Martin "suspicious;" why he chose to exit his vehicle despite being instructed not to do so; why he uttered racial slurs; why he felt it absolutely necessarily to pull that trigger; and of course, why his determination to do so will slowly fade from mainstream media, mindsets, and memories. Yet these incomprehensible occurrences, events, and people, are what Staying for Tea is all about. We are called to stay when staying seems so undesirable, when it seems there is no one, no thing, no experience to stay for.

But we often don't. I too often stand beside the intersection watching the cars pass , not wanting to immerse myself in a disruptive reality I know too little or too much about. Why should I see, accept, understand, accompany, or love George Zimmerman? Why should my students? They see themselves in Trayvon's life , I see them in Trayvon's life , and together we see George Zimmerman as the figure who brought that life to end. Yet what Alex unknowingly suggests, what Staying for Tea necessitates, is that just as I have stayed for my students, just as they have stayed for me, so too must we stay for George Zimmerman. We need not understand or accept his choices. We need only accept that one man shares in the life we too have lived -- that he has loved and been loved, lost and been lost, hurt and been hurt. Should that alone not be enough?

To stand in the midst of an intersection and see the drivers, the passengers, the figures that pass seems daunting. I do not know that I can do what Alex demands ; if I can accept, understand, and accompany all those I encounter. Yet what Staying for Tea implores of us is that we are called to stay for one another, to truly see each other, despite the many reasons we have to do otherwise. If we can do so, if my students can do so, if we can stand in that intersection and recognize the humanity that intersects our own experience, we will have made one another better, we will be persons of great integrity, we will be persons of great, unquestionable love. That, in and of itself, is undoubtedly and without question, enough.

 


Tyler Hobbs is a 2012 Krista Colleague and served at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles as a part of PLACE Corps (Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education) teaching junior history. He will continue service for one more year.


 

4.23.13

Colleague Pledge Drive | Week 2 | On the Service Journey w/ Eli Burnham

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Urban America, Community, Community, Healthcare, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service


Click here to track the pledge drive progress.   

It is week 2 of the Colleague Pledge Drive. Thanks so much for joining in this journey of giving. As of last week, Colleague giving has helped us reach $4,520.00 in gifts and pledges; there are over a dozen colleague monthly donors! Our goal this year is to raise $8,000.00 - we're more than halfway there.  

Each week, we'll be releasing a video featuring colleagues at different points along the service journey. Today, we're excited to highlight 2012 Krista Colleague Eli Burnham who is in transition from service year to a life of service leadership (with dreams to become a nurse!) Eli continues to work at the organization - Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle - where he served as part of his placement with Quaker Experiential Service & Training. 

Click To Make A Gift Of Any Amount. 

 

 

4.15.13

Longing for Racial Justice
by Brandon Casey Adams, '09 Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Krista Foundation Press, Urban America, Community, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

When it came time to register for the White Privilege Conference, I had to fill out the form quickly. That's because going deep into the topic of my whiteness always frightens me, and I knew that attending this conference would be the biggest uncomfortable race-related experience for me since my involvements in American Ethnic Studies during my time in undergrad. Despite the fears, I was glad to know that I would not be alone in the hard conversations about race and racism. In fact, out of the 2000 diverse attendees that registered for this year's conference, I was glad to be alongside 12 fellow members of Wallingford United Methodist Church as well as Zach, Stacy, Valerie, and Neah from the Krista Foundation. With deeply rooted community like that, meaningful dialogue on just about any issue is possible!

As you may know by now, one of the issues discussed at the White Privilege Conference is, well, white privilege. Even after many times hearing of or learning about the term white privilege, it's always nice to be reminded what this term really means. The term points to the fact that still today, whiteness carries loads of cultural capital. Without often recognizing it, I believe that we who are white actually cash in on the invisible advantages of our perceived "whiteness" each and every day. This gigantic form of inequality between white folks and people of color not only brings up the sting of white guilt, but much more importantly it does great harm to our relationships, especially with people of color who often encounter very different realities than many of us white folks experience.

Because I long for racial justice and healing within the human experience, I ended up feeling nothing but grateful to be present at a conference that was focused on creating racial justice from many different angles and approaches. Though it's not easy, being in a conference space (or book group space and/or community space, for that matter) where whiteness and racism are discussed has really helped me to more clearly identify the mechanisms that reinforce racial preference. And at the conference, being in a large group of white people who are also choosing to fight off racial privileging as a component of being in solidarity with people of color helped me to get more perspective on how I can continually contribute to co-creating a more just society.

After the conference, I started paying more attention to the many instances where people affirm my (unearned) moral goodness, success potential, and ability to be influential. Often at a very micro level, I see instances of this happening literally every day. A few hours ago, an example of this arrived in my inbox at work. I received an email response from an IT person who informed me that an important email that had gotten caught in my spam filters was now "whitelisted" - meaning that it got the stamp of approval for not being malicious spam and was therefore given permissions to enter my inbox. Acutely aware of how racial micromessaging comes in all shapes and sizes, I wrote right back to her. I said, "Thanks for helping me with that!" Then I added, "And on a side note, I encourage you to join my effort to get people to say good-list and bad-list, because it's always been weird to me that white ends up meaning good!" Friendly enough. Clear enough! She wrote back saying that she liked that change.

Progress toward racial justice will certainly involve a combination of many big steps, and even more small steps. For me, each of those steps are a little scary, or a little messy, and are commonly not the ‘safe' thing to do. But if there's one thing that the White Privilege Conference does a fantastic job of conveying, it is that white people have an enormous opportunity to break apart the structures that hold racism in place. As we in the Krista Foundation seek clarity regarding our responsibilities as global citizens, I with my whole heart invite each of us to scoot in closer to this messy table of racial justice work. It may not always be easy, but when we struggle for this together, we edge nearer to the beloved community that we have so often imagined.

 


Brandon Casey Adams is a 2009 Krista Colleague with a service placement from Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Chicago. He taught video production to underserved high school youth and served as an advisor to a student club. In addition, advising several video projects that students did through Free Spirit Media. Currently, Brandon is living in Seattle with his wife, Kara. He is working at All for Kidz as a Digital Media Developer. 

6.8.12

2012 Keynote Video: Krista Foundation Conference

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Community, Education, Environment, Faith/Theological Exploration, Global Citizenship, Sustaining Service


conference logoThis Keynote Address: Roots of Hope, was given Saturday, May 26th, 2012, at The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship's Annual Conference.

Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is Associate Professor of Theological and Social Ethics for Seattle University's Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Environmental Studies Program, and School of Theology and Ministry. Her current book project concerns faith-based response to systemic evils such as racism, economic exploitation, and ecological devastation.

The Krista Foundation 2012 Conference theme was Growing Service Leadership: Rooted for Life. Over the weekend, young adults in our program and intergenerational mentors spent time learning together how to develop and maintain healthy roots amidst the challenges of service and transition.