How Do We Treat Our Neighbors?
November 28, 2018
As a junior at Manhattan College and a student worker in our Social Action Suite, I have been watching this year’s Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience members prep for their upcoming immersion experiences.
The teams have spent the past semester preparing and fundraising for their upcoming experiences both abroad and in the United States. This is a time when these students will encounter a world and life experiences much different from their own and have the opportunity for open dialogue with the people they are meeting, and the social injustices they are experiencing.
This past January, as part of the program, I had the opportunity to visit a region of Ecuador called Monte Sinai. We stayed with an organization called Rostro de Cristo, a Catholic immersion retreat program.
Rostro’s goal is to live in solidarity with those in the Monte Sinai community. Each day the year-long volunteers who serve through Rostro go to their jobs at different organizations in the neighborhood, like the local women’s shelter, the nearby school, as well as the after school and tutoring program. The volunteers all live a simple lifestyle so that they are more fully immersed in the culture. We were given only a small taste of this lifestyle and experience during our time in Monte Sinai.
Our team met with neighbors who welcomed us into their homes and were willing to share a moment with us. We discussed the best way to make coconut rice, how the trash system works, and access to clean water. From these discussions we returned to the U.S. with new intentions, asking about our neighbors here and why don’t we get to know them in the same way we did in Ecuador?
Now, as the holiday season is moving forward, may we focus on our neighbors, who they are, what they contribute to our community, and what we can do as neighbors here in our own communities. We each belong to a community and it is our role to meet our neighbors, know them, and support them as we hope they would do the same for us. As we celebrate the end of this year and the start of a new one, may we meet, know, and come to love all of our neighbors.
August Kissel is a junior at Manhattan College. She has participated in two Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (LOVE) trips through their Campus Ministry and Social Action program.
(Photo credit of Rostro de Cristo)