That Food Though!
Oakland, California sure does know how to cook some food! As I mentioned before, my spring break included an immersion trip to Oakland, CA conducted by the Ignatian Center at Santa Clara University. It was more than an amazing time it showed me, yet another lens in which people view what is right and what is going wrong in our world today. And just to make the trip that much better, we were exposed to some outstanding food from all different cultures. And don’t get me started on the ice cream. That was fantastic.
Thank you to my immersion group. I have never been a part of such a passionate group to want to create positive change in this world. I’m so happy I got to share this experience with these people!
In Oakland, we were living with the bare minimum we could do with. We had one bag that included our clothes, toiletries, a journal, and that’s about it. We were hosted by St. Vincent de Paul and were staying there for the week as if we were homeless ourselves. Red cross blankets, a sleeping bag, and cots. No electronics, no books, no heater, no expectation of knowing when our next meal was to come. There were times at night when I thought to myself that most of my friends and family would assume that sleeping on a cot with not much else is extremely immersive. But let me tell you, I sat there in my cot every night realizing how privileged I was to have a roof over my head, a blanket, shoes, and a cot to rest on. Having the ability to choose to live a less privileged and simple life is a high privilege itself.
Oakland Immersion Squad
Or at least that was the title of the group chat we had. The variety and sheer amount of work we did and stories we heard were extraordinary. But there were a few things that have weighed heavy on my heart and will always stick with me. We took a trip to two non profit organizations, Civicorps and St. Mary’s Preschool. The two organizations shattered my heart and lifted it up at the same time. Civicorps serves as a school and job training program for students that dropped out of high school. They are given the opportunity to not just get a GED, but to get an official high school diploma and job training within six months to a year. Almost all students leave with a paying job that supports themselves and their families and the majority of students come to Civicorps with a criminal record. St. Mary’s Preschool has over 30 students age 3-5. 100% of these students entered the preschool far behind in their education, and 90% of the children are in need of trauma training and psychological support. At age 3, where the child has 0% control over their situation and cognitive function is already far down the road towards the school to prison pipe line and they have done everything right as a child. These kids grow up to be the ones that find themselves at Civicorps 20 years later. These are kids that are normal. That are capable of anything they set their mind to. But these are also kids that get crushed and crumbled into pieces that are impossible to put back together before the age of 6. And learning these facts as I was watching the very students play on their playground and laugh and yell as if they are just like the kids from Palo Alto, or Bend, Oregon, absolutely shattered my heart. And so, my friends, I have added an Urban Education minor to my academic plan here at Santa Clara University. Because if I can show one little girl that they are bigger than the life they were born into, my work is done.