Last week I attended Loyola’s annual “Meet and Greet” dinner. This dinner celebrates the Baltimore community as a whole, immersing Loyola students with people from the local area. The dinner was more then just a meal, it was a time to relax and swap stories, and form a friendship between Loyola and Baltimore.
The dinner was a chance for everyone to open up, and share their stories. The meal allowed the Loyola students to see what Baltimore is really about, and get a feel for the city. The locals shared stories of: homelessness, addiction, and poverty. Their stories touched me and allowed me to see the importance of appreciation for what you have.
The dinner reminded me how we are all connected, not only through the location in which we live, but in the sense that we are all human. This connection reflects the unity of humankind and puts us all on the same level. This level is the perspective I used when entering the dinner and it allowed me to treat the local Baltimore citizens with respect and understanding. This event allowed me to see the Jesuit tradition at work, putting myself in the perspective of the Baltimore locals, made me realize more about myself and the community. Just like in Jesuit tradition, this experience has taught me as a whole person.
Through out the dinner I talked to a man named Ben. His story was amazing; he is a single father with multiple part-time jobs, to support his family of five. Ben has four children, and lives above one of the stores he works at. He has shown a great amount of participation in his children’s lives, by inspiring them to do well in school, and achieve scholarships to pursue a college career. Ben is a kind hearted man, who had an addiction; he conquered the addiction and concentrated on improving his life for his children.
Ben inspired me to live each day to the fullest, take advantage of what’s around you and breathe. His story represented faith and strength, just like the Jesuit tradition Ben learned from experience. He grew as an overall person once he reached enlightenment in what he was doing to his life, and how it affected the people around him. His realization lead to his rehabilitation and now Ben passes on the faith and inspiration to his children.
This chain of faith is the Jesuit tradition at work. The Jesuit way is contagious and once one person is ‘infected’ with faith, it spreads to the community around them. The Jesuit experience has helped me respect people for who they are, and look past the physical attributes. A major key that helped me understand and this concept was the Jesuit tradition and faith. The Jesuit tradition has showed me the chain of connection between communities, no matter how diverse and different they may be. I will always carry this experience with me; the Jesuit tradition is no longer a way of looking at the world, yet a way of life.