Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Care-a-van is one of my favorite service sites in the city of Baltimore. Every Tuesday night for the past school year I have been driving down to a park right off route 83 in the Inner Harbor. I serve sandwiches, snacks, and drinks to people who live in the park. Many of the men and women who receive the sandwiches are poor or living on a very low income and need some support. Care-a-van is one of the most powerful experiences which have shaped the person I am today.

Care-a-van has presented me with weekly challenges for myself. Whether it is how I interact with the people in the park, my change in attitude before and after my service, or the numerous questions that rush through my head about all of the social inequalities in Baltimore. My experience is unique and different every time I attend Care-a- van. I have been nervous, scared, helpless, excited and all of these emotions have made me realize that doing service for people who are homeless can actually make a difference in the world.

I was timid in the beginning and I really only talked to the other Loyola students who went down to Care-a-van. Then doing service created a feeling of happiness inside of me. I began really looking forward to Tuesday nights and I became more and more comfortable interacting with the people who live and gather in the park. Now I thoroughly look forward to packing the car, driving into the city, and visiting with my friends at the park. Being involved in Care-a-van has really has made a huge impact in my life and in my college life thus far.

The first time back to Care-a-van this year went a little differently. I realized from last year that it is vitally important to recognize every person as an individual. This time I shook hands and introduced myself to the people who I was meeting in the park. It was such a great change with an immense impact on both the Loyola students and the people who we served at the park. There were new and old faces but shaking hands and making eye contact are crucial when recognizing someone was a person. Being at Loyola and meeting some of the people who live in the city makes living in Baltimore that more meaningful. The people who live in Baltimore are truly genuine especially those who are less fortunate and who really appreciate everything in life so much. Many people look the other way when they encounter a person who is homeless. People assume that the poor and marginalize have messed up their lives on their own behave and we can’t do anything to fix that. Those assumptions can stop because the people who are homeless need love and support just like every other human being.

In relating my weekly Care-a-van experience to the current novel the Whale Rider I can see a connection of people in our society today feeling useless and pushed aside just like Kahu. Kahu felt so helpless and was told she was useless by the one person she loved most. People who are homeless are stereotyped as people who are weak and a waste of time. They are shunned from society and most people ignore the men and women who live on the streets. Koro didn’t even take the time to get to know Kahu. He was too stubborn. Working with the people who are homeless makes me realize that every time I don’t acknowledge a person or say hello I am not treating them with respect. I don’t want to be ignored, so I shouldn’t treat others as if they don’t exist. Many people are uncomfortable working with the poor because they don’t know how to act. The way to act is just to be you. Why change who you are when that’s all you should ever be.
Another connection I made with my service experience and Whale Rider is how those who serve come together and use each other to accomplish great things. In Whale Rider when men and women, elderly and young, cops and gangs all came together to help save the whales it relates to how a variety of student come together to do Care-a-van. All class years are resented, young men and women, working towards a common goal of serving those who are less fortune.

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