Before this week, I hardly had interacted with any of the students going on this trip. Occasionally I would see Kenny or Caroline in the library, where I practically live, but not see any one else. I was worried about how the students would interact with each other, how they would see me, or if I would be able to build a sense of community among them. All my doubt was completely gone before the first day even ended. The 8 hour car ride to Chicago was filled with ice breakers and sharing our favorite music. Everyone quickly became friends. Every night we come together to make a balance dinner and work as a well oiled machined to clean up after ourselves. Over the past few days the sense of family among the truly diverse group of students can be felt by anyone who comes across the 11 of us.
Our time in Chicago was filled with intense games of scrabble, spoons, and would you rather questions, and sprinkled off with service to the community and engaging with the community members. But mostly TICE games of scrabs. In Ohio, we helped organize and clean up some of the classrooms at Benedict the Moore school and had the chance to play with children that attend the school. Tonight we will be helping out at the Fish Fry at the church where we hope to meet more of the community members.
All in all this trip has been an a great experience we all have stepped out of our individual comfort zones to experience and learn new things. I hope that this group can continue to create stronger ties with one another in the time to come.
Today we got to tour around Washington D.C.! We visited a few monuments, but the largest chunk of our day was spent learning about the history of African Americans at the Museum of African American History and Culture.
The museum started in then 1400s at the beginnings of the slave trade and African slavery in the Americas and moved through time to the election of the first African American president, Barack Obama. The museum had many amazing and heartbreaking artifacts and we learned a lot. One of the most touching exhibits was the memorial of Emmett Till, a 14-yr old boy whose murder helped galvanize the participation of many in the Civil Rights Movement, including Rosa Parks.
Learning about the Till case sparked a conversation among us about recent events such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and their implications for the area we are currently serving in. Living amongst this community has helped to put into perspective the severity of what is happening, and also served as a reminder that racial divides are still a prevalent issue.
After we left the museum we went to Kramerbooks and Afterwords Café where we shared lunch and reflected on what we had seen. We even saw a book in the bookstore attached to the café about the Emmett Till murder.
We returned to St. Edward’s shortly thereafter in order to share dinner with Father Honest, the priest here at St. Edward’s. We learned all about his journey, from growing up in Tanzania, to his studies in Zimbabwe and The Congo, to his work in various cities across America, before settling here in Baltimore about three years ago. It was wonderful to finally have an opportunity to break bread with our host and hear about his life and family in Tanzania. We were inspired by how well traveled and optimistic Fr. Honest is.
To close the night we finished touching up the mural we started yesterday in the Rec Center. It came out great and really adds life and color to the foyer. Hopefully it will serve as a warm welcome to all who visit there.
This morning we were asked to clear out two classroom and to organize the resource room for the school.
The playground only has one piece of equipment which our trip last year helped fund. Our crowdfunding campaign this year was to raise the money for a swing set as the second piece of equipment.