Stronger in Union: Senior Spotlight

Tonight we will proudly light our campus for 20 minutes in recognition of the Class of 2020 and the many blessings they have bestowed on our school community. They are “Stronger in Union” as their class motto suggests, enriching and inspiring us with their faith, courage and brotherhood.

This Friday we give special thanks to all of our seniors for dedicating the month of January in service to those in need, in St. Louis and abroad in Guatemala, Russia, Taiwan and Papua New Guinea. #AMDG #MenForOthers #SLUH2020 #StrongerInUnion

Senior Reflections

"Many of those people seemed to bind their lives to transcendent values, and the devotion of the Guatemalan culture was evident. That is definitely something I will take away from my experience: a trust in the transcendent over material pleasures. My Senior Project experience also has convinced me ... that I cannot live a meaningful life without other people, and I am now committed to using my talents for that end."

"It was in these small, universal moments that I realized there was much more that brought us together than separated us, and it was in these moments that I felt closest to God."

"I will take away at least four major lessons from my Senior Project: all people desire to love and be loved; loneliness is the greatest poverty; we need to truly listen to and assimilate the wisdom and life experiences of our elders; and finally, we need to holistically care for and treasure our elderly."

"I sat there at the tiny wooden desk with him in the corner of the room for about 20 minutes helping him write the letters one by one. It took him so long to do such a simple task, yet after he was finished, he was overcome with joy. The way his face lit up was a very special moment for me and that feeling of helping him demonstrate what I knew he was capable of will stick with me forever."

"My experience was humbling. In fact, I finally understood that the term ‘special’ needs was inadequate. Everyone needs to feel loved, respected and cared for, no matter how you were born. In the end, God made us who we are for a reason, and that is to be one with each other, always."

"From the moment I walked into my classroom, I was met with nothing but warm smiles and excited faces. The kids were absolutely thrilled to have me there and immediately wanted to hang out with me. I was automatically the coolest person in the room. ... At SLUH, we always hear that we live in a bubble—that we’re very fortunate and we need to recognize that our experiences are not the norm. When I heard that, I acknowledged it, believed it, but never before did I see it as intimately and extensively as I did on my Senior Project."

"Although it broke my heart to hear the hardship Parker has encountered throughout his life, I also felt great because a simple act I hadn’t even thought twice about had made this kid's day, maybe even his week. This kid who has gone through so much all of his life, and has so many excuses to be mean and ungrateful, showed me great appreciativeness and love, and that will stick with me forever."

"After spending so much time with people who have lived very full lives, I understand in a new light the importance of absolutely making the most out of everything you can, and focusing on the things that really matter. It forced me to do a double-take on where my priorities lie right now. This incredible experience of humanity made it extra difficult to say goodbye to all the friends I had made at St. Agnes."

"I saw God in each of those kids. I saw how that despite all being different, we all have the inherent human dignity that comes from God. People say that having kids with disabilities is a burden, but it is a blessing. All life is a blessing, and sometimes we just have to work harder to help some people out. At my site I realized my great privilege, and I remembered how I needed to have compassion for all people."

"I saw God in the teachers, the ones who spend their lives trying to help those who society sometimes forgets about. They sacrifice more than I knew to try and teach the children that normal-paced elementary schools gave up on. In my eyes, these teachers are heroes. Recognizing their patience and ability to give their all was what I learned most from Senior Project."

"There were plenty of people at the International Institute who exuded a sense of excitement about learning that, in many ways, reinvigorated my faith. Today, we unfortunately see many people speak about refugees in ways that oftentimes racist, ignorant, and rude. However, if you’re given the opportunity to spend just a few moments with the people I have, you’ll see a different side. Deuteronomy 10:19 says, “You are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” We are called to love, and the Catholic Faith calls for us to do just that. My time at the Institute has given me a renewed sense of faith because I had the chance to explore our common humanity, regardless of where we come from, what language we speak, and who we pray to. We are called to walk hand in hand with each other. My site gave me the opportunity to do this, and I’ll forever be grateful for it."

"Although he couldn’t say it, I knew from his smile that he enjoyed having me there. John's smiles are some of my favorite and most cherished memories of my time at UCP because of the joy on his face. He made me feel like I was making a difference in his life just by being there with him, which was a surreal feeling for me, and one that put a smile on my face every time he smiled at me."

"Senior Project gave me a new perspective into the lives of these kids and faculty that I never would have had the opportunity to see otherwise. It was a glimpse into another world completely different than my own, and really made me reflect on my life and the blessings that fall into my lap everyday."

"My biggest takeaway is that people are people, no matter what. Disabilities don’t change who a person is. I learned to accept the residents for who they are. I also learned a lot about patience. Working with some of the residents took a lot of patience, and it took time for me to adjust and go at their speed, because I was the visitor in their home."

"I was sitting on the swing in the gym one day, and one of the students, who is nonverbal, walked into the gym. He oddly stumbled over to me and just placed his hands on my shoulders. He had piercing, ice-water blue eyes, and stared at me intensely for two or three minutes. He did not say a word, and neither did I. I placed my hands on his shoulders too and just stared. I have always tried to find a reason for why that moment impacted me so much, and this is the answer at which I have arrived after considerable reflection. He could not say anything. He could not articulate his emotions or why he was so fascinated with me at that moment, but what he could do was acknowledge my humanity, recognize my existence, in the simplest most beautiful way possible. We couldn’t communicate, yet he laid his hands on my shoulders, and I met his gaze and appreciated the beauty and complexity of his presence. I like to think that in some capacity, he felt the same."


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