“No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of a Shark”

(Diary of Service Immersion Trip to Hope Community Center–Week of June 17, 2018)

Day 1: La Salle Academy students on service immersion trip at Hope Community Center in Apopka, Florida—such an important time to go beyond our own borders, to form relationships, and to hear immigration stories.

Day 2: Today we worked with members of the community in a local nursery, reflected on the power of each person’s story, and then were invited to eat dinner with families in Apopka who opened their homes to us.

I was reminded today that the antidote to bigotry, intolerance, fear, and hate is the sharing of stories, of getting to know ourselves in each other.

Day 3: I fell asleep thinking about the cries of young children along our Southern border, inconsolable and afraid, needing their parents. I have been heart sick and restless, not knowing what I could do, but needing to do something. I am not an attorney or a social worker. I am a teacher and what I can do in the face of injustice is to give my students the opportunity to see the human faces of oppression.

Today, our students continued to work alongside local migrants in Apopka, learned about DACA, and then heard from Evelyn, who shared her DACA story.  It does not feel like much. There is certainly so much to do. But it is a start.

Day 4: Another incredible day for our students. Today, we helped at Summer camp then spent the evening with local families as they opened their homes to us for dinner. The hospitality and generosity was not lost on our students. Given all of the legitimate reasons they have to be apprehensive and afraid, they trusted us, shared their homes, food, families, and stories with us.

On the van ride home, one student commented, “It is so humbling—how little I knew.”

How different our national discourse surrounding immigration could be if we all realized this, if we sought to listen and understand.

Day 5:

“No one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark
You only run for the border, when you see the whole city running as well….you have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land. No one burns their palms under trains, beneath carriages. No one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck, feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled mean something more than the journey. No one crawls under fences. No one wants to be beaten, pitied “
home by Warsan Shire

Today, our students were entrusted with stories of heartache, loss, desperation, and longing. They heard about the resilience of the human spirit and the universal desire of parents everywhere to want a better life for their children.

My hope is that my students will not forget the stories they’ve heard, that they will lean on one another in the months to come. Perhaps then, they can begin to amplify the stories, voices, and truths they’ve experienced this week.

Day 6:

“And then all that has divided us will merge. And then compassion will be wedded to power. And softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind…and then everywhere will be called Eden once again.” Judy Chicago

Thank you to Christopher Furino, Alejandra, Sr. Ann and all the sisters, and all the people that make up Hope Community Center. You are truly doing God’s work. Thank you for sharing that with us this week.

La Salle Academy students experienced a glimpse of God’s kingdom this week. We all have something to contribute to the human family; we all carry brokenness and need. But the journey is meant to be traveled together.

Students: Abigail Carr, Amelia Charleson, Emily DeCrescenzio, Ellie Eager, Patrick Hogan, Samantha Karlson, Mackenzie Moore, Joshua Philips, Elena Rouse 

Adults: Mark Carty (Social Studies Teacher) and Christine Estes (Director of Campus Ministry)

Diary written by Christine Estes