I was meaning to post my blog on Saturday, March 29. Just to reflect upon some of the things that happened during the week. But had a very difficult time with the realization that our trip ended yesterday morning, but I must say that our journey isn't completely over. This is only the beginning of a new movement, an entire generation of youth who have the power to bring attention to issues that we believe could end in our lifetime.
This year, I applied to take the role of a student leader that leads the Washington, D.C. catalyst trip. I was a bit hesitant, due to the fact that I was still learning about many of the issues that cause homelessness. But I realized that I had previously learned so much, as I was once a student attending my first catalyst trip during my freshman year in college. I was more than willing to continue learning, along with the students that applied this year to be a part of this trip. I must say that I' am very proud of each and every participant, as my co-leader and I put 100% of our time, commitment, and heart into making this trip a success, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of individuals.
People experiencing homelessness have long been stigmatized and blamed by their situation. When I was younger, I used to think that homelessness was a "choice," but this week only reaffirmed me that homelessness’ is not a "choice," it has only confirmed to me that it’s an issue caused by many of our institutions, and circumstances as these institutions do not allow people who are living in impoverished conditions break free of that cycle that holds them captive.
During the 48 hour homeless challenge, I came across a missing person poster. It was a young girl, 8 years old. Once we returned to the hostel, I was reading news reports and came across the same picture of the young girl who had been missing for the past few days, and that’s when it hit me. The little 8 year old girl who was missing, was experiencing homelessness. I was frustrated, and angry that I didn’t have the power to end homelessness right there and then. We have a stereotypical image of people experiencing homelessness, but it can be invisible as it also affects many youth.
So what now? I say we continue to educate others about homelessness. We MUST continue to advocate for each and every person experiencing homelessness, as I believe my generation has more power than they can imagine. Support organizations that are more than willing to improve the conditions of people who are experiencing homelessnes, and those who have the goal of ending homelessness. Possibly start a movement, that not only gets the general public attention but of those in higher positions, that have the power to make policies to end homelessness.
I would like to thank Margot Howard, Coordinator of Social Justice Initiatives and the Hamline to Hamline Collaboration in the Wesley Center at Hamline. Margot, who was also our staff person on the trip is the reason why I continue to grow as a student leader, and want to be the change that I wish to see in the world. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor, as she was always supportive from beginning to end. Thank you for believing in me, and for putting all your dedication into making these catalyst trips possible.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my co-leader, Cristina. Cristina, co-leading this trip with you will always be something that I keep close to my heart. I honestly don't know if I could have made this trip a success had you not been a part of the entire process, you have taught me the many amazing qualities that it takes to be a WONDERFUL student leader. I couldn't have asked for a better friend to work with, as many challenges came my way, and you stood right by my side, and supported me. I am sad that you will be graduating from Hamline, as I won't get to see you around, but I know that wherever you decide to go, you will only continue to accomplish many great things. I am also excited to see where your passion and talents will take you. (:
Thanks to everyone who made this trip such an amazing experience. Margot, Cristina, Zoe, Law, Gordy, Patricia, Lauren, McKenzie, Erica, Rayla, Melissa, and Sandy.