We had a fantastic day of service making lunches for the hungry and homeless on the streets of San Francisco. We have nearly 30 people show up to help out and the Jefferson Awards Foundation was on hand to document the service. Our Students In Action team is supported by the Jefferson Awards and it is this team that initiated One Less Hungry four years ago.
To celebrate and honor MLK Day, the SIA team at Stuart Hall & Convent High Schools, San Francisco organized another One Less Hungry Service Day. We had 28 people join in making 180 lunches to hand out to the hungry and homeless on the streets of San Francisco.
I had the opportunity to speak to Teacomia who lived on the streets for nearly 20 years – off and on since she was 17 years old. Her positive attitude testifies to the endurance of the human spirit when faced with such dismal living conditions. She has three children that she sees almost everyday but do not stay with her. Her seizures prevent her from enjoying life to the full and have practically knocked out all her teeth from the falls.
The students of Convent & Stuart Hall did an amazing and generous service today – courageously providing for those who have very little and who are often blamed for their situation. I think Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would point to a greater issue given this 1964 quote from his Norway address: “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”
Tuesday was a very busy day in San Jerónimo Tecuanipan. The students were amazing in their service, cooperation, collaboration, and getting things done. The staff of Community Links commented how well this group works. So, we ended up working hard and playing well before we headed off to our home stays for night one…
Libby: Yesterday we traveled to a little town. The car ride was long and a little bumpy but as soon as we arrived in the town I realized the car ride was worth it. The level of intelligence on the farm and in the center was amazing. The work we did to move rocks to help the farmers really impacted my vision of what farming really is. Later in the day we went to our home stays and began to learn more about the culture of rural Mexico. I loved the home stays with the families. We played hide and seek with several children and one little boy (four years old) was better than all of us put together. Then we went and played basketball which was amazing and we made many friends. Then we went back and went to bed. A few hours later, I woke up to the amazing sound of chickens yelling 🙄…It was really loud. We ate breakfast and started another day!
Olivia: Yesterday we had a super busy day. After a reflection on Rose Philippine Duchesne, my favorite lady, we headed to the farm. we were able to interact with another group of high school girls that were already staying at the farm. The squad learned about the way the farm is sustainable, like the way they save water, and the way that they recycle materials like rocks to keep minerals in the soil. We worked hard sifting and moving rocks, playing with the puppies, and making mud for the shower house! Then, the kids came, one with a goat and two dogs in tow, and we played with them.There was coloring, hide and seek, freeze tag, volleyball, and the crowd favorite-soccer. We headed out to our family homes and had dinner with the families. The people around my house played a super intense game of hide and seek tag. We then headed to center of the city and played an incredibly tense game of basketball. When we got home, we figured it was time for bed. Instead, we headed to a huge gathering of the community to pray the rosary as a group. It was a beautiful mix of Sacred Heart Goals 1 and 4. Afterwards, we had homemade tamales and sweet coffee. We then walked home under the stars. That night, we were serenaded with tons of roosters and dogs as we tried to sleep. After a big breakfast, we are ready for the day!
We headed south to Cholula after our visit to Sagrado Corazón. We were all exhausted but the student managed to keep the energy high during the two hour drive even when when had to deal with some van issues. We all arrive safely and the students settled in well. We had homemade dinner of rice, beans, and sopa poblana. After dinner, Arturo offered us a very insightful view of poverty in Mexico and then we had the students present on an issue that they encounter in their lives – racism, immigration, wage inequality, human trafficking, water issues. They all did a wonder job!
Today we visited our Sacred Heart school in Mexico City, Colegio Sagrado Corazón. Claudia and students met us at the door and immediately had the students involved in all sorts of games. Claudia gave a tour of the grounds to the adults. The school is about 1,000 girls from kindergarten to 12th grade. There is a definitely emphasis on the Sacred Heart and sustainability. The solar panels, living wall, and water catchment system all point to a desire to care for creation. We all enjoyed our visit and it was great to see the students get along so well and play soccer together. Thank you Sagrado Corazón for a wonderful visit!
Tori: Although it is only our first day, I can already see the many differences between our cultures. It is very refreshing to get an entirely different perspective on how to live. It is also nice to take a step back from my own life and see what I take for granted that they don’t really have here, including the ability to flush our toilet paper :). I’m excited to see what the rest of the week holds and hope to learn something new about life in Mexico.
Olivia: Yesterday was easily one of the greatest days of my life! Our day was so packed and it was such a blast. We started at Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it was beautiful. We were able to see our Lady and also reflect within the Basilica. We then visited the old Basilica and also the original spot where Juan Diego met Mary on the hill. In a quest for holy water, a priest blessed the water from a water bottle! It was an experience that will never leave any of us. Despite a bit of a glitch at La Casa Azul, we were able to go the home of Leo Trotsky and see his house. We then took some pictures to show Mr. Klepper, our Modern European History teacher. The Frida Kahlo Museum, or La Casa Azul was absolutely awe-inspiring. In her home, there wasn’t just art, there was her death mask, her leg, her corsets, her pain, and her hope. It was something I’ll never forget. We capped our evening with seeing the remains of the Aztec Temple at night, and also touring some old architecture of the city. Mexico City has been such a blessing and such an experience that I don’t think any of the squad will have again. So far this trip has been absolutely fantabulous and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.
Victoria: Yesterday was a great day in Mexico City! In the morning, we saw Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had no idea that the area would be so big and that there would be three churches. The area was really pretty and the old churches were beautiful. I am glad that I got to see them. After lunch, we went to see Leo Trotsky’s house. I did not know anything about Leo Trotsky before. Also, I was able to read some of a sign that was in Spanish and I understood it. After Leo Trotsky’s house, we went to see La Casa Azul, where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived. It was cool to see their house and paintings. We also saw the Olympic Stadium and the university. It was interesting to learn about Mexico’s college system. Finally, we saw the Aztec ruins. It was cool to see them and to imagine what the temple once looked like. Today we are on our way to the Sacred Heart school here. I’m excited to learn more about Mexico’s culture!
Max: Today I woke up to the sounds of Chris snoring and the phone ringing. Libby, Kam, and I went on a run and then we had breakfast as a squad. The breakfast was great and the ride to the Sister School was better. We met some girls who like to party and they toured us around. They did a good job. We played soccer, (even though Cameroon cheated) and then basketball. Rob dominated. After that, the girls offered us some delicioso ice cream.
Christina: Today was a rollercoaster. The groups started the morning off with a delightful breakfast on the roof of Hotel Canada. The room looked out over downtown Mexico City, letting us overlook the history we’d explore all day long. After breakfast we packed in our mystery machine vans and made our way to the Lady of Guadalupe shrine. There we learned about the story of Juan Diego and the appearance of Our Lady, after a wonderful lesson by both Mr. O’Connor and our guide, Arturo, we were able to experience the story in real time. We went into the newer shrine and saw the original Tilma that the image appeared on. The experience was overall insane; the shrine was packed as Mass went on, people pilgrimaged to the image on their knees, and it was truly an amazing experience. After going through the large shrine we trekked up the steep hill to the multiple churches that marked the multiple appearances of Our Lady to Juan Diego. After making it to the top of the hill and enjoying some delicious palletas we made our way to the Frida Kahlo museum, La Casa Azul. The line outside of the the museum was extremely long, so we resorted to buying our tickets online and went to find some tostadas. The tostadas and fresh juices were the best we’ve ever had in the heart of the bustling district mercado. After lunch we went to the Leon Trotsky museum which was in his home, also the place that he was killed. We learned about his life and the political history of Mexico City. We then split up and some of us went to the Frida Kahlo museum. The museum is in the house she was raised in, spent her adult life, and died in. The culture of her artistry resounded through the entire experience. We were able to tour her house, see her dresses, and get a taste of the suffering she experienced throughout her entire life. After the Frida museum we headed back to the hotel, then went and grabbed some dinner. We walked to the Aztec ruins, and despite the museum being closed we were still able to see the ruins from the gate. There, Arturo (possibly the smartest man alive) gave us an in depth history of the conquest including the importance of indigenous culture in Mexico today and he showed us the diversity that lives in every culture and life. Arturo told us about the importance of agriculture, diversity, and most importantly solidarity. This wrapped up our long day of experiencing the culture of Mexico preparing us for a week full of new experiences and new knowledge.
Ms. Arce: It’s 4:25 p.m. We’re currently stopped en route to Cholula. Our guides, Arturo y Sergio are calmly performing as Mexico’s version of Click-n-Clack. The air is cooling as the sun begins to wane–a refreshing change from the hot air of the sun and thousands of packed autos on the roads. To the south of us are the mountains covered with snow. Santa Maria Texmelucan is the name of the three jagged peaks calmly rising boldly up from behind layers of brown avocado hills, rippling their variegated physiques, or maybe simply stretching out their golden supine bodies under smog and shade.
We miss everyone in the other car. But suddenly, Sarah and Sophia suddenly appear at our open door to ask : “Has anyone missed us?” We admit the trip has been a little bit calmer without them, though the gang in the back of the van has been singing “Don’t Stop Believen” with a lot of decibles.
We’re tired from the traffic but our group continues to bond and create positive energy with each other. I ate lunch with T.J and his wife, Alexis today. We shared some of our faith stories and challenges while trying to stay hydrated on bottled water.
Riding in the van has shown us the density, poverty, and tenacity of Mexico City. I spent a lot of time becoming aware that I am looking towards millions of houses and cars, looking down tiny dusty streets with thin street-dogs panting near tiny tire shops and worn apartments all within a few feet of the never ending commute. Vendors, some women, weave through the traffic selling sodas, bottled water, plastic toys, carnations; offering to wash our front windows, showing us a parking spot in a cramped alley.
Cars. Cars. Cars. Shops. Taquerias. Everywhere. This is a world that is packed with people trying to work and survive. This is much of our world and I feel quite aware of my temporary visit through a busy post-colonial, still-auto-centric city. It is both a new place with beautiful people, and unfortunately an intense “photo” of the struggle of being human together in a class-based world. I am grateful to be here in the capacity of a teacher and group member, and I am hoping to grow as a member of the human community.
After visiting the Basilica we headed the the Frida Kahlo museum. Many of the students wanted to visit this particular museum but the line was immensely long. We ended up purchasing tickets on line for a 4:30pm entry for ten people. Since we had time, we all walked to the home and museum of Leon Trotsky and learned a bit more about this man’s life and unfortunate end – assassinated with a ice ax to his head. At one point both Trotsky and Kahlo spent time together. After our visit, the group going to Kahlo took off and the rest of us went to the local zocalo and explored the area. Once we all gathered again, we headed back to the hotel and went out to dinner. All in all, it was a very full day and we learned a great deal…