It hasn’t been all work and no play here in Immokalee, we have had quite a lot of palletas, played a lot of games, and painting art projects at the CIW seems like more fun than work.
Last night, Horace needed to get a work out in, so he invited some of the group to join him. While they were at the park, they made a friend who joined them in the work out…. while the rest of the group went to get ice cream (talk about extremes!)
Yesterday, we were also able to have a presentation from the Fair Food Standards Council. They are the enforcement arm of the Fair Food Program. Think of them as the lawyers and accountants who make sure the Workers Code of Conduct is enforced and everyone is getting paid as they should. Literally, half of their staff joined us for a lunchtime presentation where they explained how audits and investigations are conducted. It offered additional perspective on the scope of the fair food program.
March 8, 2017
Today is our fourth day in beautiful Immokalee. We have been here for half a week now and I’ve started to realize several things on this trip.
To start, I am very happy I came on this trip. Before coming here, I was very nervous about coming on this trip, with it being my first mission trip and not knowing anyone on this trip. I am truly blessed to be with this group of kind and wonderful people. I couldn’t ask for anything better. Seeing everyone work together, whether it is at Guadalupe Social Services sorting clothes or working in the kitchen to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the lunch the next day, warms my heart. We all became so close in just a short amount of time.
Making Lunches is the MOST important part of the night 🙂
I knew before coming on this trip that there were many problems in Immokalee that could not be solved overnight. I really hope that we can make some kind of impact in our short amount of time here. Sometimes, I almost feel helpless because I know we can do so much more for them. While I was at Guadalupe Social Services, I got to sit in with one of the social workers. I will be honest, it was hard sitting there because I know very little Spanish and I don’t even know Creole. I saw the social worker do as much as he could for these people, and as amazing as it was to see the community helping out its people, I still felt we, or I, could have done so much more. However, I know the little things can make a huge impact.
On our first day, we went to RCMA. Like everyone else, I was very excited to play with the little kids. As soon as I entered one of the classrooms in the charter school, several children practically jumped on me. It was so much fun just being with those little kids and having fun. I don’t know what is going on in those kids’ lives, but I do hope that our little interaction with each other left a positive impact. They were so excited to see some of my fellow group members and I in their classroom. To me, while it is not the same as building a house or painting a room, playing and interacting with those children is just as impactful.
For the rest of the week, I will keep in mind that while I know there is still so much left to do, my group and I are doing as much as we can. God brought us together and sent us here for a reason. I hope that we can make a change.
It’s Day 3 and Florida is as beautiful as ever, but I have developed an internal tension.
Going on this trip with 12 other people (many of which I didn’t know before this journey) and entering into this seemingly whole new world (even within my own country) is challenging me to be more compassionate, understanding, and loving towards those whose backgrounds, worldviews, or general mannerisms completely differ from my own.
This trip is also challenging me to acknowledge various instances of contradiction in the world. There can be good and bad within the same person, company, or community. For example, a person may seem to have it all together on the outside while internally struggling with very intense suffering. A company like Publix may perform generous acts of charity (like giving a grant to a social services group that feeds and clothes the poor) while at the same time, refusing to participate in a program of justice (like the Fair Food program, which implements fairer wages and working conditions for those who provide America with its fruits and vegetables). A community like Immokalee can be paradise (full of bright colors, delicious food, beautiful languages, and warm sunshine) while struggling against a reality of oppression, tension, and fear. A reality in which human beings are denied the most basic rights to work and live in peace. There can be both great joy and great suffering, great goodwill and great lack of integrity within the same entity.
Through all of this, I keep asking myself: What more can I be doing?
-Natalia Wohar, Sophomore
Hello again! Welcome to day 2 of our blog! Today I, along with the rest of our group, started our morning with a tour of the RCMA, an organization that takes part in the Head Start Program. The most exciting part of the RCMA was playing with the kids. There are many different rooms with kids ranging from babies to age 5. The first room I was in had 3-year-old kids who spoke Spanish and some English. There was a Spanish-speaking teacher and an English-speaking teaching in the classroom. I thought it was exciting how they taught English and Spanish together, although the kids only knew a little bit of English. Despite the language barrier, I loved playing with the kids. A simple smile went such a long way and we were able to communicate through basic pointing and laughing. The second room I went into had 5-year-olds and these kids were so much fun. The kids had so much energy and ran up to us as soon as we entered the room. These kids spoke English so it was really easy to speak and play with them. For 20 minutes we played with pots and pans and threw things around the room, but it was so joyful. These kids seemed to be having the time of their life. I never wanted to leave the kids, but we had to leave to have lunch at the lake. During this time we reflected as a group and it was interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts about their expectations for the trip. Having signed onto the trip later than everyone else, I would say I have an open mind and am extremely excited about the trip.
After lunch we had a presentation at the CIW. The presentation was given in Spanish and translated into English. This was so interesting as someone who doesn’t know any Spanish because I found myself listening more intently to the Spanish than the English. We also got to find out what it felt like to lift a 32 pound bucket of tomatoes, which I found I could not do once let alone hundreds of times a day. Before leaving the CIW we did some work around the building. It was great to get involved with the people we will be working with all week. Overall, day 2 was an amazing day full of learning experiences and great bonding time with our group. I’m excited to see what the rest of the week holds! Hope you check back tomorrow!
Hannah McCandless – Senior, Public Relations Major
Wrapping up in Arlington…
We have had a great experience here in Arlington, VA.
In our short time here we have painted murals, watched Concussion and had a discussion with the Labor Team, toured the city, learned about the twin Parish in Haiti, helped out with the thrift store, and spent some time in DC! Tomorrow we will be assisting in the food pantry and making bag lunches for the day laborers.
We visited the National Museum of African-American History in DC
Learning about the Arlington history
Bridget, Julia, Lauren, and Anna sorting out clothes for the Matthew 25 Store
On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to have dinner with a couple, Tim and Elizabeth, from the Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Arlington, Virginia. For me, this was one of the greatest experiences that I had during my mission trip in Arlington. Both Tim and Elizabeth were so welcoming and kind. These were complete strangers who invited someone who they had never met into their house for dinner. Before arriving at their home, I was worried that the dinner might be awkward and that we had nothing to talk about, but I couldn’t be more wrong. To start off, we had the best home cooked dinner, of tacos and ice cream, that I’ve had in a while. The conversations at dinner were never dull and I learned so much about Arlington, Tim and Elizabeth’s life, and their upcoming mission trip to Peru. By the end of the night it was hard to believe that I was even nervous in the first place. On our way back to the church, Tim and Elizabeth pointed out all the monuments and important buildings in D.C., which was really cool to see.
Bridget and I went to the Knight family’s home for dinner. Earlier in the day, we met Mrs. Knight in the Matthew 25 store, as she coordinates and organizes the thrift store. We had the lovely pleasure of meeting her daughter and husband as well. Throughout the evening, we talked about all of the organizations that Mrs. Knight actively participates in and helps run. She is part of the Matthew 25, the food bank at the Parish, and more. We talked about the diverse communities they assist through the programs at the church. The Parish strives to aid the community in any way possible by providing various outreach programs, which is truly wonderful to see happening.
We also discussed the different types of masses that Our Lady Queen of Peace has to offer, such as the Spanish masses and more intimate afternoon mass, where church goers sit around the alter instead of in pews. Overall, it was great to learn more about how involved the church members are in this Parish; each person plays a vital role in making the programs run smoothly.
Tonight, Lauren and I went to dinner at the Kane’s home who have been parishioners for many years. The parents, Olivia and Tom, both worked in the schools and they had four children. Two of the children were in college and two were in his school who ate dinner with us. The dinner was fantastic! The Kane family cooked us a home cooked meal and we sat around the dining room and talked about our lives. We talked about some of the services at the church and how they were involved. We also talked about our lives at Duquesne and about our mission trip here. It was amazing to be able to see life from another perspective and be able to see how our lives were connected in so many different ways. Overall, we had a wonderful evening and are so grateful to have met the Kane family. Their hospitality and strong faith was very inspiring, to us on our mission trip.