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March 11, 2011

New Experiences

by carrollministry

Hello Gentle Readers!

Thank you all so much for following us thus far! This week has been a completely new experience for me, but a good one, nonetheless.

I have never driven that long in the car…new experience number one. I have never been the minority. At Cristo Rey, three percent of the student population is Caucasian—new experience number two. A vocabulary lesson in slang terms: “juice”, “crispy”, “bucci”, “gucci”, “jeffin’”, “deuces”, “What’s good?”, “What’s goin’ down baby?”, “Bye Cuz (or Fam can be used)!”, and “Ima holla at you”, are a few examples—still working on usage however, new experience number three. New experience number four was in Mrs. Hughes’ English classroom. Oftentimes Fred and I would hear statements that if said on the Carroll campus—or at in least any classroom I’ve ever been in—would be severely reprimanded for. The culture is completely different from what I’ve grown up with, and it has been a very unique experience learning from it and beginning to understand where the lines are here versus where they might be for me. And finally, new experience number five was never being fully certain of what state I’m in. After traveling halfway across the country and going back and forth between Kansas and Missouri all week, I’ve just stopped trying to figure it out. =)

Last night, during prayer with the sisters at the Xavier House, we got into a conversation about the fruits of our immersion and service here in Kansas City. We discussed the opportunities that we have had to connect with the students at Cristo Rey and the relationships that we’re building. Unlike last spring break, we have not always been able to see concrete effects that our service is having. I noticed this when I felt “productive” after cleaning lockers and walls for a couple hours. So… the last couple days (Wednesday and Thursday), I have worked to identify any products of our time, conversations, work, and service.

Here are a few things that I noticed: the feeling that the students were genuinely interested in and attentive to the answers to questions that they were assigned to ask us; the fact that 16 more students will be receiving donated computers fully restored and protected; even if it was just grading papers or addressing envelopes, we gave the gift of time to the teachers and administrators who we were assigned to; a YouTube video posted by adoring fans; being given culture lessons that included handshakes, the “stanky leg”/the “flex”, and urban slang; being greeted enthusiastically by name in the halls or upon entry to “our” classrooms; and last, hugs from people we had and hadn’t met at all Thursday—especially when it was announced that it was our last day.

Before arriving in Kansas City, Colleen mentioned something about how on a service or immersion trip, you always seem to get more out it than what you feel like you’re putting in. After this week, especially, I’m noticing it. I’m returning back to Montana with several new vocabulary words and more importantly, a reminder to always have an enthusiasm for life. No matter what their specific mood, the Cristo Rey students were totally super enthusiastic!

Finally, before returning to the Xavier House this evening, we stopped at the Holy Family House. It is a Catholic Worker house with the philosophy that all who enter (who are sober and safe) are welcome and encouraged to participate positively in the Holy Family House community. Sometimes that just means having a hot meal, coming in to play the guitar and sing, using the phone, purchasing a bus pass, participate in liturgy services, picking up groceries, or talking with other guests and volunteers—no matter one’s state with the law, economic status, marital status, religion, or sexual orientation—no questions asked. We hung out for a bit with some of the guests who stopped by, had Mass, and then had dinner before coming home. It was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the realities outside of the walls of Cristo Rey.

As my time in Kansas (or Missouri—wherever the heck we are) is drawing to a close, (T – 9 hours until we leave) I’m grateful for this immersion into the Cristo Rey and Kansas City culture. I’ve enjoyed all that has happened so far and am dreading the time that I will have to devote to homework in the car in the coming couple of days…but I suppose that it’s time to return to the Carroll world…

Thank you for keeping up with our blog so far, it means so much to us!

Deuces and Bye Fam!

Kirsten Rotz

Read more from Kansas City

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