In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies issued a grant to the Guatemala Study and Serve Program. The purpose of the grant was to underwrite part of the costs of the students’ 9 week experience. Student Chris Luschen was kind enough to share about his experience of the trip.
I, Christopher Luschen, am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity you have given me. Through your generous donation towards the Newman University Guatemala Study and Serve Program, I as well as twelve other students were able to experience life-changing events. Without your faith in the program and without your generous donation, I do not know if I would have been able to attend this program. Through this program I have seen my eyes opened in ways that I never dreamed possible. In La Labor, I consistently found myself at awe at the deep and devastating poverty that many people in the world live in today. Before this experience, this level of poverty was not imaginable. Seeing people living in small huts of metal with no toilets, stoves, or clean water, I truly found myself changed. Upon returning to the United States, I have struggles with the amount of frivolous waste and excess that currently exists within our society as well as within the Catholic Church. I find myself sometimes angered by the current injustice that is occurring between the different levels of living. I often find myself remembering the passage about attempting to help someone remove a splinter from their eye while I have a beam of wood in mine. I continue to use this to remind myself that before I can go and speak to others, I must first work on myself and follow in the way of Jesus Christ. I am so very thankful for this trip. I have grown so much as a Spanish speaker but also as someone who wishes to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. This trip has opened my world to a new way of seeing my “neighbor” and therefore I have found a passion. This trip has also taught me that what the United States has in money, the U.S. also lacks in community. The type of community that I saw in Guatemala is an incredible feat and I wish it were easily replicated so as to bring that type of communal love for one another to the United States. I am so thankful to the Gerber Institute for making this journey possible and I look forward to encouraging future Newman students to participate in the Study and Serve program.
Christopher John Luschen