How did we spend our summer vacations? By serving others
“What did you do over your summer break?”
It’s an age-old question that teachers ask their students every year as school starts in the fall. Here at Loyola’s School of Education, we’ve put a little twist on that common quiz.
We asked our faculty and students to tell us what they did over the summer, but to keep this famous quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in mind: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ”
The responses we received were truly inspiring.
One student worked with underprivileged children and adults in Brazil as part of the U.S. Fulbright Program. Another volunteered in Colorado to clean classrooms, paint hallways, and help landscape two public elementary schools. And a third worked as a camp counselor for children with special needs.
Below are some examples of the things that our students and faculty did over the summer. Things they did not for themselves, but for those in need.
And that, we like to say, is what a Jesuit education is all about.
Courtney Britton (right) and Kaitlyn Kysiak
At the Arch of Titus in Rome, we learned how a symbol of oppression can be transformed into one of hope. As educators, we do this daily through providing a pathway to success for all our students.
This summer, I was lucky enough to be a part of Schwab Rehabilitation Center’s day camp for children with adapted mobility. We spent one week doing fun activities around the Chicago-land area.
Janis Fine, PhD
I led private educational tours at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Under Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam we learn that God created us in his image and that under the laws of humankind as taught through Moses and Christ, each one of us can make a difference and be a blessing onto our people. We are each called forth.
Amy Heineke, PhD
I helped lead a summer immersion trip for School of Education students. After two weeks of teaching and learning in Mexico City, these teacher candidates took a photo break on the hike down the Pyramid of the Sun, part of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican ruins at Teotihuacan. (Pictured from left to right are Victoria Burden, Emma Haney, Julia Bauschke, Ellie Thomas, and Tiffany Yi.)
I participated in a National Education Association program called Outreach to Teach. At this event 400 volunteers from around the country came to Denver to clean classrooms, paint hallways, create murals, and help with landscaping. Two public elementary school campuses were beautified by our hard work in just one day.
Bridget Kelly, PhD
I answered the challenge by volunteering to teach 3-year-olds in vacation bible school at my church. It was a weeklong adventure with crafts, music, gym, and stories from the bible about God's love. This picture is of one of my students. She made many friends at the camp, and I learned—once again—how loving and open children are.
I, along with hundreds of others, spent countless hours this summer advocating for the rights of the Iraqi Christians who are being persecuted and terrorized by the extremist group, ISIS. The Iraqi Christians (Assyrians) are indigenous to the land of northern Iraq and are now at a point where if there is no future for a safe haven, they will be forced to flee their homeland. As an Assyrian this is near and dear to me—especially since I had visited only four months ago.
After three years of acting as the producer of the Children’s Summer Theatre at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, I was offered the opportunity this summer to direct and teach my own theatre camp for fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students (shown above).
For many of these students, this camp offered their first experience on stage in the form of a one-act play ("Seusstastic!"), and they learned the basic techniques of theatre.
What truly made this camp unique, however, was the philosophy behind my instruction: the idea that every child can attain the confidence to learn to express oneself in front of others. Therefore, I wrote the one act to ensure each child had his or her own solo, in the form of spoken dialogue or through song.
Reflecting upon the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to live for others is to supply individuals with what they need to succeed and to believe in their capabilities—and one day, to let the world see what they can do.
I am currently in southern Brazil acting as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) scholar with the U.S. Fulbright Program.
This summer I have been working with a program at the Universidade Federal do Pampa (UNIPAMPA) called Unipampa Para Todos, a program hosted in part by the university that reaches out to adolescents, teenagers, and adults in less developed and underprivileged areas of Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul.
The goal is to show community members who may not see higher education as an option that they can, in fact, go to school. We do this through stimulating and interactive lessons that help them realize they have the capabilities and the potential to pursue an education.
(You can read more about Michelle’s experiences at her blog.)
This summer I was a camp counselor for children with special needs. (One of my campers is shown above.) Throughout the seven weeks of camp, I helped them explore activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, and team-building games.
Despite the challenging days when there were many behaviors among the campers, forming invaluable friendships with them and seeing how much they had grown by the end of camp made every minute worth it.
This summer I spent two weeks volunteering in Zambia. I worked with Spark Ventures, a nonprofit that strives toward making communities self-sustainable. It was a life-changing experience, and I am hoping to do it again soon.
My co-teacher and I created a simple lesson plan allowing students to express themselves to encourage their fine motor skills and creativity in their classroom.