September 26, 2007
I cannot imagine what my life will be like after I attend Loyola for four years. Having been here for only one month, I can already see a change in my life, specifically because of the Jesuit education. Listening to Dr. Rodrigue Mortel speak tonight helped me realize that part of the Jesuit education is challenging yourself in order to serve others.
Dr. Rodrigue Mortel was born in Saint Mark, Haiti, to two illiterate parents. At age eleven, him and his poor family were evicted from their house. Despite having no money or food, Dr. Mortel continued to stay in school and decided to also further his education beyond what most Haitian students do. In Haiti, it is a common mission to make something great of yourself, and come back to provide for your parents. For this reason, Dr. Mortel decided to attend college in Haiti, and then went on to study in medical school in Port Au Prince. In Haitian medical schools, they have no exposure to research, which is why Dr. Mortel soon decided he wanted a medical degree elsewhere. This reason also drove him even more to become a doctor, so that he could provide research someday to other Haitian medical students.
Dr. Mortel first went to Canada because he could not speak English, but soon learned the language quickly and moved to America. In 1972, he finished his medical school career as an OBGYN Penn State Medical School graduate. After practicing medicine for many years, Dr. Mortel decided he wanted to give back more than what he already had to his country, and help the less fortunate who are in Haiti. But rather than most doctors giving back medically (although he does this too), he decided to build a school called The Good Samaritan. Eighty percent of the people in Haiti are illiterate and do not attend school. Dr. Mortel wanted to create a place where children could come not just to learn, but be able to live a healthy life. At The Good Samaritan, children are fed, educated and cleaned, along with also having their parents educated at the same time. Dr. Mortel believes that education is the key to fixing Haiti, and that no matter what you try to do won’t help if no one is educated.
In 2000, Dr. Mortel was ordained a Deacon of the Catholic Church. He has established a program called “The Baltimore-Haiti Project”, which parishes in Baltimore are paired with other parishes in Haiti. A bond is created with the people at the churches in Haiti and the churches in America. Dr. Mortel hopes that he can give children opportunities with the various organizations and projects he has established not only Haiti, but all over the world.
While listening to Dr. Rodrigue Mortel speak, I noticed that his view of service is similar to what the Jesuit Education teaches us. Dr. Mortel challenged himself by coming to a country where he could not speak the language, and earn a degree in order to give back to those at home. I feel that part of the Jesuit Education stresses the fact that we must challenge ourselves and go outside of our comfort zone. When we do this, we gain experience, which we must use in the future to help others who are not as fortunate. We are given opportunities at Loyola which help us focus on the whole being, and through these activities and services, we learn more about how we can serve others. With what we gain from the Jesuit Education, we must give back to others. I feel that what you put into the Loyola Jesuit education is what you get out of it, and we must make an effort to challenge ourselves, just as Dr. Mortel did.