Friday, March 6, 2015
This morning we were able to take a tour of a Lipman Farm. Lipman is the largest agricultural company in Florida and a leader in Agro business.
We were able to see a multitude of crops and talk with Scott (farm manager) and Jamie (3rd generation Lipman family member)
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Yesterday, a portion of the group spent time working with the CIW to get things prepped for their upcoming Parade and Concert!
Some cleaned out the van, or inventoried t-shirts, or painted banners!
Some cleaned out the van, or inventoried t-shirts, or painted banners!
Publix shirts to be sold at the concert
Banner to be used for the CIW Concert and Parade!
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
As the only two males on the CCME, Trip and Giovan have really formed a lovely friendship. Here is a moment in philosophical conversation, capture by another group member.
According to Trip, the convo went something like this...
Trip: Whats up bro?
Giovan: Nothing man, whats up with you?
It’s the end of day three of our Immokalee mission trip and I can honestly say that having the opportunity to bond with our fellow Immokalee-goers has been the most amazing aspect. Prior to our flight to Florida, we were required to meet as a group several times to learn about the CIW and the general purpose of the Immokalee mission. As can be expected though, we were nervous about being around one another and the room was filled with many awkward silences. But within a matter of 72 hours, we really have all blossomed into what I would consider---good friends. The power of traveling together, experiencing Immokalee’s impoverished state, and learning about the devastating flight of the migrant farm workers has brought a special magic to the air.
Tonight at dinner, we sat gathered around our amazing chicken fajitas, homemade guacamole and delicious chocolate and vanilla pudding (yes, I made the desert!:) Giovan, one of our campus ministry leaders, shared this amazing story about how he and his wife first met. Kayla, our enthusiastic and sweet mission trip goer, shared her perspective on what our spirit animals were (check out the end of this blog to find everyone’s out!). Kate, our other campus ministry leader shared her memorable road trip with Father Bill. As an entirety, the atmosphere was so warm, so light-hearted, and in general---magical.
When you think about it, when people are able to experience opportunities such as a mission trip, emotions run a bit haywire. At times, there are periods of extreme joy and happiness. And at others, there are moments of sadness, regret and devastation. Despite the range of emotions---the power of being together at all times within the day has brought us each comfort. This comfort has gradually molded itself---and we have entered our own little “Duquesne Bubble” whilst amidst this mission trip journey.
This bubble, in itself, has not only helped us to form good friendships—but it has created such an eye-opening learning opportunity. Today, our group was split into three areas. Group one went to work with Habitat for Humanity. Group two went to do maintenance with the Immokalee Housing and Family Services. And group three, my section, went to serve food at the Guadalupe Social Services soup kitchen.
I can’t speak on behalf of the other groups, but I can honestly say that at the Guadalupe Social Services, we were completely in awe. First of all, we had the fantastic chance to meet several sweet, older gentlemen who volunteer at the soup kitchen the first Tuesday of every month. They were welcoming, kind, considerate---and so pleased to share the morning with us. We also volunteered with some students from Gannon University and John Carol—who again, were so sweet. While we were setting up the dining area, interacting and being able to hear the life-stories of our fellow volunteer friends was an experience in itself. Having the opportunity to work hand in hand with people who come from all walks of life is a surreal experience.
Following the soup kitchen, we ultimately all ended up meeting at one of the Immokalee Housing and Family Development center. Here, we went into a single family house and helped do general maintenance, from painting walls, to raking countless leaves, to hanging doorknobs. While the work may seem rather basic, I have to say that this again, was a true bonding experience for all of us. Even with the 80 degree heat and rather “hangry” (hungry + angry) humans---we clicked. We giggled, we helped one another and we embraced each other’s company. I also immensely enjoyed talking with Zuzki, one of the two maintenance hero’s for Immokalee housing, talk about why he loves his job and about what his future may hold.
It’s so easy to get swept up in the day-to-day life---and forget to embrace the simple moments. But helping Tony (our “25” year old gentleman) place desserts on trays and helping re-fill the soup bowls of Guadalupe’s diners brought a sense of both laughter and peace to our souls. And this is what this mission trip is really all about. It’s a chance to reach out to those who we wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet in the hustle and bustle of everyday life—and learn. From hearing stories about one’s grandchildren, to stories about how someone reach his or her impoverished state; it’s a matter of listening, accepting, and growing from the experience.
So, with the night coming to an end, I can honestly say that I am so thankful for this experience. Our journey has only just begun---but the memories and the close friendships that we will share at the end of this trip is something we will never forget. Plus, dinners (thanks to Kate and Laura) have been absolutely awesome. Sleeping on the floor is a bit rough---but as I write, Molly and Kelsey are laughing away at today’s adventures, bringing some fun to the air. Plus, we’ve met some really adorable kids so far. Today, I met PJ—who was a fun 3 year-old boy who loved spider man, could do some great pushups, and had this really cool scooter.
At the end of the day---only 72 hours in, I can’t wait to see what the next few days hold. As a soon-to-be college graduate, and spring breaker, this is a true once and a lifetime experience.
Thanks to our fantastic Duquesne group for making this trip so fabulous and eye-opening thus far!
PS: From Kayla, our spirit animals:
Lani, Bambi (Baby Deer)
Aubrey, Caterpillar (soon to be a butterfly)
Monday, March 2, 2015
Our first day in Immokalee! After a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, we headed out on the road to tour a local worker housing complex. The first thing I noticed as we exit the car was the ubiquitous crowing that has come to characterize Immokalee. That and the heat, which I am thankful for after a long Pittsburgh winter wished us farewell with four inches of snow.
The houses at Immokalee Housing and Family Services were tan and nestled in the midst of sporadic trees and bushes. It was very sunny and that gave the houses a warm glow. We took selfies.
The director came and we all met Miguel and Zazooki, the two groundsmen. We helped them by picking up trash and tidying up the place. The people were so nice, and we played with a kid named Carlos…or Rocco. He would tell you a different name depending on which language you asked him in.
Lunch was pbj sandwiches and fruit, accompanied with pretzel sticks. We sat in the parking lot and enjoyed each others company while we ate. We are all bonding so well. Next was a quick stop back to the Amigos Church and then we walked over to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers headquarters.
The Coalition is such a cool place. It is filled with young people, energy, and nice contrast colors. They spoke to us about the Coalition’s history and its mission. Part of understanding their life was lifting a 32 pound bucket full of fruit that the farmworkers have to throw into trucks dozens of times a day.
We also went on a walking tour of the workers’ housing. Walking through their streets was like walking through a documentary on another developing country. It was hard to believe it was America, well, the America I knew. The America I know is suburban, and white, and dominated by what you have and what kinds of the things that you have. You can’t really get anywhere without a car, and it is a stark and a refreshing difference to see so many people walking around and biking around.
(To those who were reading this, when was the last time you walked to a destination that was miles away?) We see so many people walking around pushing strollers. We see double the amount of men and boys on bikes. They are pedaling everywhere. The sidewalks are some of the best I have ever seen though. They are in such good quality though they are well used.
People do not walk around at my home. There is a main-road, and there are cars that congest it. No one walks around. People have legs, but they don’t use them for transportation; why would they when they have cars? They use legs for exercise. It just makes me wonder and ponder the fact that people will train for marathons but they drive cars to go everywhere else. I guess the easy answer would be that it is more practical, but it is looking at it makes me think.
Even more striking was the modern day slavery house. We walked by the house where people were chained and and beaten and imprisoned. This was in 2008. Not 1908. Not 1808. Just seven years ago. Thank God that it was ended and those responsible were prosecuted.
Going to a farmer’s market was a great experience too. It was very refreshing to get fruit from a stand in a market, to see a smiling farmer chop a coconut and then hand you a straw for you to drink. If Wal-Mart comes into town, yes, it may give hundreds of jobs, but it will also eliminate that farmers market. Maybe it won’t completely eradicate it, but it will certainly grab much of its business. America was built on farmers markets, not Wal-Marts.
Guadalupe Social Services and Catholic Church is a “Mecca of the community.” Learning about Father Sanders and his impact of his work was extraordinary. Trisha Yeggey was a fantastic tour guide. She showed us how they can flex their muscles in the community and help so much. They provide food to hundreds and hundreds of people per week. Their work is hard. The don’t get a big bonus at the end of the year, or some sort of material compensation. Their spirit of charity is indomitable. Go them. People talk about how they could never wake up in the morning for ROTC and PT like I do, but man, what I do is easy. What Guadalupe Social Services does is truly much, much harder.
I can’t wait for another day of learning in Immokalee.