Writing. Photography. Video. The home of Jesuit High School student journalism.

Jesuit Chronicle

Writing. Photography. Video. The home of Jesuit High School student journalism.

Jesuit Chronicle

Writing. Photography. Video. The home of Jesuit High School student journalism.

Jesuit Chronicle

Near and far: student stories from summer service

Ella Nguyen, Maddie Kwon, Thuymi Tran, and Hana Nguyen spend time with their assisted living resident friends.

Many Jesuit students completed their biggest service project of their Jesuit career over the summer.

Junior Ella Nguyen volunteered at Hearthstone Assisted Living over the summer. She and her friends set up activity rooms and brought residents water, but Ella said she talked to the residents the whole time.

Conversation was a big part of her role. According to the CDC, almost a quarter of seniors are considered socially isolated, which can lead to health problems and just loneliness.

“I feel like the biggest thing with the elderly is that they always feel alone, even when they’re together with their friends. It’s just different to have someone younger with them,” Nguyen said.

Sometimes Nguyen found it difficult to relate with people a few generations apart, but she found ways to connect with them like playing dominos and teaching dance moves.

From hearing stories about what life was like back when the residents were her age, to getting pie recipes, and being surprised by how energetic and goofy the 90 year olds were, Nguyen enjoyed her service at Hearthstone.

She plans to go back monthly to visit.

“They’re like my adopted grandparents now,” Nguyen said.

Another type of service opportunity Jesuit students can apply for is an immersion trip.

Junior Kate Lee chose to go on the Kino Border Initiative, which is a week-long immersion trip to Nogales, Mexico. This trip is focused on service through learning what life is like on the border and the immigration process.

One experience she had was a two-hour walk in the desert, which gave just an idea of what refugees have to go through on their journey to safety.

Even then, Lee learned, it is an incredibly hard process to be granted asylum. She spoke with people who had been there for weeks in a slow moving line-and even after the line they might be denied asylum.

Lee spent a lot of her time at the Commodore shelter serving food, playing with children, and meeting people with a variety of stories.

“We talked to ranchers whose land is literally on the Arizona-Mexico border, and Border Patrol themselves,” Lee said.

One challenge Lee and the other volunteers worked through was the language barrier. Currently in Spanish 4 Honors, Lee had to work hard to understand and communicate with people she met.

She remembers a woman she met named Maria who was fleeing bombing and violence from her home country with her four daughters. Hearing stories like this was a difficult part of the trip because it was so emotional.

“We show empathy and sympathy, but they’ve been through this and we haven’t, so it’s really hard,” Lee said.

These raw conversations, however, gave perspective and motivation for change.

“This is a big issue. And it’s bigger than us ten kids who went on a trip. We talked a lot at the end of our immersion about next steps–which are a big part of our service,” Lee said.

She points out that there is a lot of work to do locally and wants to continue to volunteer to help immigrants. Here at Jesuit, Lee has volunteered at the Hurtado Center, a course for adults to learn English and prepare for Citizenship among other interviews.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Evelyn Kennedy
Evelyn Kennedy, Assistant Editor-in-Chief
Evelyn Kennedy, a junior at Jesuit High School, was born in Portland and has also grown up in Chicago and Seattle. She is creative and spends her free time reading, writing, drawing, spending time in nature, and baking. Aside from that, she loves laughing with friends and spending time with family, including her dog Willie and sophomore sister Molly. She plans to pursue a career where she can be creative. From a young age Evelyn has loved writing short stories and being imaginative. Evelyn is interested in learning about, as well as writing about, social justice issues, the arts, and pop culture. Her goal for her high school years is to constantly be learning new things, within the media production world, and beyond. Evelyn is overall curious about the world and wants to share her interest with others. She hopes to travel and find fulfillment in volunteer work throughout her life.