Thursday, September 6, 2012

Honduras? - Social Justice & Selfless Service

I can easily imagine that the #1 question around campus this week has to be, "How was your summer?" I will tell you that I have asked and answered this gem more than 2 dozen times in the last week. I have missed you... And, I sense you have missed this place.

My summer was great - and filled with one big, unexpected surprise. In July, less than 1 month from the departure of their trip to Honduras, the USD Medical Brigades club found out that the faculty member they had identified to accompany them was unable to go. On July 24th, I was identified as the replacement advisor. And, on August 10th, I was on a plane to Honduras with 24 USD undergraduates.

There were many thoughts that crossed my mind during our week in Tegucigalpa and the outlying villages we visited. I fact, I wrote quite a bit while we were there. (If you're interested in more, I am happy to share my reflection blog.) We served patients in a mobile medical clinic, filled prescriptions in a mobile pharmacy, provided dental work and extractions. We sat with people in pain, provided answers the best we could with some limited Spanish, and loved people. We educated parents and children, we practiced compassion. After three days of the Medical Brigade, we worked with an Architecture Brigade to build a Community Health Center by mixing concrete, moving rocks, building rebar towers.  We spent time together, shared experiences (and lots of music) as we travelled for hours by bus each day. We saw some things that changed us forever. Here is an excerpt from one of my reflections and a powerful example of when service becomes real to us. It was a moment when life was so crystal clear in the message that it is about all of us together.

"Last night I overheard two students from other university talking. One said. "I see these people and they have none of the things that I thought made me happy. They are so happy, and I just want to figure out why." Profound, and truly a moment for her as she navigates the road to discovery that 'she is enough'. I shared this in our final debrief/reflection tonite. It resonated with a few of them. The staff person did a great job facilitating a conversation about social change. Made me proud to be bringing these Changemakers back to USD."
"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you." -John Wooden

As I consider our Core Value of Social Justice & Selfless Service and its definition, I can't help but connect it to my experience. Our full sense of satisfaction was in knowing that the little bit that we contributed in providing health care for the Hondurans was a significant impact. As a team, we worked without ceasing to help and serve those around us. Selflessness was the pervasive attitude as we examined not just the needs of the people around us, but also the systems in place. How could we use our privilege, knowledge, resources to create a better environment for people in need. Fraternity and sorority life does not have the corner on this concept. There are many people, including 21 of the 24 students on this trip, that modeled this value as non-members. But, as organizations, we have this built into our rhythm. This is what we were made to do. This is what we profess as our purpose. So the question arises - How are you experiencing this value? What can you do to make it more real for our members?

Our values. Live them. Each and every day.

Social Justice & Selfless Service

The opportunity to give is the most rewarding experience in a Greek community.   We gain a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from working together to help others.   By striving to raise awareness of social issues throughout our community, we make selfless service a part of the way we live.