Throughout this semester, I have learned many valuable things about both myself and the Baltimore community through the events that I have attended. These events really allowed me to deepen my understanding of the value of literature as well, as the requirement to connect the two in our blogs made this very clear. Of the events that I have attended, however, the most poignant one for me was the Ignatian Family Teach-In in Washington D.C. Even though I wrote about this in a previous blog of mine, now that I’ve had a few weeks to think about it I feel that it was even more valuable and surprising to me that I would have expected.
For most first semester college students—myself included—finding yourself and finding your interests is the main struggle. Extra curricular things were not difficult for me to find, as I pretty much just continued my high school activities by joining the Chimes and the Ultimate Frisbee team, but attempting to find an academic interest that suits me best has been very difficult. There are so many things that I have a slight interest in, but nothing that stands out as a major or something that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. I decided to go to the Teach-In because of the positive experience I had in attending it during my senior year of high school, and hoped that I could gain more insight into the message presented this time around.
The results, for me, were remarkable. I knew that I had an interest in helping those less fortunate that I, but the Teach-In really gave me tangible ways to do that, and surprisingly interested me much more than expected. The speakers there were some of the most powerful I have ever listened to. One nun in particular talked about being raped and tortured during the 1970’s in Honduras, and how it motivated her to take action. Hearing someone who has gone through something so traumatizing and awful be able to overcome such adversity and want to make a difference in the world made something very clear to me. I have to do what I can to change the world in any way I can. I’m not entirely sure how, but I’d never been quite so inspired to actually do something. The social injustices presented in Washington were all atrocious, and I don’t understand how our society can continue to ignore them.
So, for now anyway, this Teach-In has made me decide that I want to go into a service program for a year after college before graduate school. Whether it is through the Peace Corps or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or any similar organization, I want to spend time serving people in the world and doing what I can to make their lives better, even if only for a moment.
For me, the events, and in particular this one, were the most surprising part of my experience in Understanding Literature this semester, and I will apply the things I learned from them to my daily life.