By Parishioner Liam Connell
A Real Eye-Opener
When I come home from work trip every year, I always exclaim that the trip I took 600 miles from home was able to open my eyes to how much I take for granted, and enables me to relate to people who live a life of poverty very different from my own.
The truth is, it's not true. A week spent serving people in need does deserve laud, and it does expose a naive high-schooler to a side of America that must be seen, but it is not eye-opening, and it absolutely does not let me relate to these people. How could I get a real view of this lifestyle when viewing it from the pedestal of service? How could I really relate to someone when we are in completely different positions-one of service, and one of being served?
I live in one of the most financially and racially segregated areas in the country-Lake County, IL. Lake Forest High School is one of the nicest in our conference. It neighbors one of the poorest. I know there is something wrong with that and I know I didn't make it that way. I am a product of it. I have, in the first two paragraphs, largely discredited an experience that would seem to cast me as "enlightened to the ways of the world." Ironically, I talk about this as if I have been, or at least I think I have been. You read on, wondering how this can be.
I decided to take a composition class at College of Lake County to improve my writing before going to college. I took the class at their Waukegan campus. The class was incredibly diverse, with some people earning a GED, and others pursuing a college education because it was a lifetime goal. For the first time ever, I am the minority as a white teenager. In fact, I am the youngest person in the room. In the classroom setting, we are now all equals. The opinions of Wanda, who is bravely testing out her "English as a Second Language" skills is not more or less important than anyone else's and we all respect that unwritten law.
The readings have affected me, but more so, the discussions. I have had my opinions turned upside down by people who experience things first hand. Most of all, I've noticed that the ideas I saw as novel still fit into a narrow and predictable bin in the midst of ideas I couldn't imagine.
When I drive home from class every Thursday, I feel changed in the same cheesy way I thought I was after work trip. But this time, I know there is more to it.