Happy Easter!

Welcome back,

I have just finished a wonderful Easter celebration with my family. At SXU, we do get the Thursday and Friday prior to Easter off, but we’re back in class the following Monday. In the past, this has put a bit of a damper on my Easter because I would have to pack up sometime in the evening and start driving back to school. However, I am lucky enough to not have classes on Mondays this semester so I am extending my little Easter break and staying with my family.

Me and my nephew, John!

Me and my nephew, John!

I have been perusing Facebook at different points throughout the day to see how my friends celebrate the holiday with their families, and I always find it interesting how diverse family celebrations can be, yet I’ll spy common threads throughout.

My family usually dyes Easter eggs, goes to mass, has an egg hunt, and prepares a delicious meal of ham, potatoes, salad and green beans! I guess you could say we keep it pretty traditional, but I love when I see some of my family’s traditions pop up in other people’s Facebook posts.

We also have a delicious sugar cookie recipe that we make for both Easter and Christmas that I think I finally have the hang of. I was able to make the cookies from start to finish with no help this year. Sometimes it’s the little wins like this that make you feel the most like an official adult.Eggs skillfully dyed by my sister and IIMG_1083 (1)

The rest of my week will be devoted to editing my research paper with extreme scrutiny (it is due on Wednesday) and crafting my presentation for April 8. I am beyond nervous for the next month and ready to get it over with! The next few weeks will represent the culmination of a lot hard work so I hope everything goes as well as possible! It’s time to get back to work!

Until next time…

Countdown to Graduation: 1 month, 9 days, 5 hours, 34 minutes, 46 seconds

Easter Introspection

There comes a time in a person’s life that they have to interact with people not of their own, whether it’s faith, gender, race or economic standing. Here in America, with an incredible richness in cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, it is a virtual inevitability. Now I am not saying it will be an easy step. It can be hard to do so, especially for those that have lived in a homogenous environment. But conversing and sharing with an array of people can be a rewarding challenge for those that wish to face it. Depending on who we are and how we grew up, our actions toward one another can either be negative or positive in their impact. To be able to understand the fundamental differences in people and share culture and traditions and find common ground are salient points of discussion that students face on a daily basis here and in the wider world. Unlike certain areas in our society that attempt to limit this interaction or force it to the point of condescension, here Saint Xavier has found an amiable balance of diversity and uniqueness. This is the topic of this week’s introspection, interconnection between people of different backgrounds, specifically of the religious variety, and Saint Xavier’s role in assuring a place of understanding and mutual learning.

One of Saint Xavier’s core values is diversity. It is a value that the students share, the professors endorse and the school cherishes. It knows the limits it has and does not force it where it is not needed and advocates for us students to work to maintain it when we leave. Here, people of all faiths and racial and economic standings, come together with a common goal — to pursue a college education. There are interfaith discussion groups in the dormitories and school-sponsored events in which panels of writers, thinkers and activists discuss the connect of faith and race in our lives. While being a private catholic institution, Saint Xavier does not force the Catholic doctrine upon its students beyond the general guide of mercy found in all faiths and non-faith pursuits. It realizes that such a practice does not work to its goal of understanding and embracing diversity. As someone with no religious faith, I find this school very open; perhaps even more open to diversity than public institutions I have attended in the past. That says a lot of what this school stands for and the openness it has for all its students. It shouldn’t be surprising though; it’s simply the smart thing to do. Now it comes down to the interaction between people of faith that I wish to think over that goes beyond Saint Xavier.

In today’s world, we are seeing just another wave of violence and destruction brought upon innocents by zealots and fundamentalists. As of today, over 60 people were killed in Pakistan by a Taliban attack on Easter, and only several days prior, Brussels was attacked by men aiming to bring about destruction and chaos. There is a fundamental problem in the world and that is dividing people. It so happens that this divide is along the lines of faith and religion. These terrorists abroad and bigots here at home share a disturbing commonality when it comes to their feelings toward people of other faiths. It can be confusing and upsetting for many of us that do not understand how such hate can come about. Are we all not human? Do we not share the same land, drink the same water and see the same sky? Then why is this so? Like the saying goes, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke was right. It is up to people to do something. There is a war ongoing in the world, the war for the soul of a generation, the soul of Islam, the soul of Christianity. For all of us, religious and nonreligious, we must look within ourselves and realize that even though we may each share a different view of the world and how it should work, we all can agree that what is happening is not the answer and that if we can chat and be friends with people of different races and backgrounds, then why not with religion too?interfaithdialogue

Easter Break!

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Happy Easter everyone! I hope you all had a great and lovely Holy Week! I actually had a pretty long Easter Break this week because I went home to Minnesota after field experience on Monday! This was my first time back home since the beginning of January, so I was ready to go home! (So the rest of this blog post will be about me being home!)

So on Monday I surprised my brother, Emiliano (13), and sister, Maya (18), at the airport because my mom, who is a writer and many times gives rides to writer friends who stop in Minneapolis, told my siblings that they were picking up a famous writer. IMG_1716Instead they got me! They were so surprised that Maya almost ran through the security check point!

On Tuesday I got to surprise my youngest sister, Luna (7), at my dad’s and I saw her and my dad. It’s crazy to me how big all of my siblings are getting and how smart they are getting! Luna read her first chapter book over break!! She read the first Magic Tree House book to me!! It’s crazy! And Emiliano is more sarcastic than ever!

IMG_1753The rest of break I went back and forth from my parent’s homes and going to church with my boyfriend! Overall, it was a great and relaxing Easter Break with those I love!

An Uncertain Future

This week has been a long and busy time. With lots of homework and surprise midterms, on my account, thrown into the mix, it’s been exhausting. About a week ago, I received word via email of the increasingly suspect status of the MAP grant due to the political gridlock in Springfield. This has been going on for the past few months – these emails. They were mostly the same when it came to updates on the MAP grant, the situation down in Springfield, what Saint Xavier’s been doing to help out and what we as students can do. It’s amusing sometimes how often the school reminds us of their efforts toward correcting this problem that they themselves have no total control over the bureaucrats down in Springfield. It shows that they are aware of their students’ concern. I appreciate it. I know the school is trying its best. If I thought otherwise, I’d be more inclined to a negative view. They’re doing all they can, I believe. If they didn’t, they’d be saying goodbye to a third of its students and much of its core value of diversity with low-income students, like myself, being forced to drop out due to a lack of funds. With a significant percentage of schools that students can’t afford to attend, it becomes a big problem. I don’t want to see that happen here. I care too much about this school and the community it has created to see it happen. Despite this notion, at least, Saint Xavier University is faring better than other schools in the state. Realizing this, I feel concerned for my friends that are going to other schools. I wonder how they’re dealing with this crisis.

I know they are doing all they can to keep this school up and running. But this email that was sent to us on the MAP grant and how we’ll have to look for alternative options was a setback for myself and I know for a lot of students in my situation. From what I’ve heard from other students in my position, we’ll have to come up with the money, around $4,750 for myself. For myself, I was able to find an acceptable alternative by taking out a loan which will be replaced with the MAP grant if it comes back. How am I going to pay that back in that time period? And why should I? Why am I and other students of low-income families being forced to pay for a grant affirmed to us by the state? I know the school’s reasoning for the push. They can’t run this school if there’s no revenue. They have done all they’ve can and more to continue to fight for us and work with us to find an amicable end to this situation. However, for the state, I have no such reservations. The state’s shooting itself in the foot by putting the burden of paying the shadow left behind by the grant upon the backs of the most financially vulnerable. If we qualified for the MAP grant due to our low-income status, how does it make sense for that student to pay what is unpayable?

I am not confident in the measures that are being taken by the state and find them misguided. I don’t blame the school. I blame the incompetence in the state legislature to affirm the basic rights of its citizens to education. I blame them for not setting aside their differences and realizing that by removing a huge percentage of its student population, low-income and poor, from acquiring the skills to work in-demand jobs, the state will suffer in the long term. For us students, we need to become more active in this process. The legislative process does not, or at least should not work in a vacuum. There was a rally of students a few weeks ago to lobby for the MAP grant, although it was ultimately unsuccessful in encouraging the state to pass the MAP grant, Saint Xavier and other schools showed their commitment to their promise of education. We need to do the same and advocate for ourselves, too. I really want to remain here at Saint Xavier. My friends are here, my dream of becoming a teacher is here. But with these circumstances, the future is uncertain. But I know Saint Xavier is there for us, and we need to be there for ourselves.

A Busy Weekend Leading Into a Busy Month

Welcome back,

Today marks the official start of spring although you might not know it due to the current 36 degree temperature.

I’ve had a relatively busy week and weekend. I turned in the first draft of my senior research paper. After spending most of my spring break writing, it stands at 70 pages currently. The next step is a week or so of editing before I turn it on the 30th. I can’t wait to have this paper completed! I know it will be a huge weight off of my shoulders!

On Thursday evening, the scholarship program I am lucky enough to be a part of hosted an awesome event! We welcomed an award-winning cartoonist, Keith Knight, and he gave a wonderful and humorous talk about race and police brutality in the U.S. It was a very enlightening and inspiring night!

A slide from Keith Knight's presentation

A slide from Keith Knight’s presentation

This photo was the opening slide of Keith’s presentation. Many of his comics focus on the unfair and unequal treatment of African American’s by law enforcement officers. Keith cites instances throughout his presentation in which he, his friends, or other African Americans were treated more harshly by police or experienced misplaced suspicion simply due to the color of their skin. Keith’s goal is to start the conversation on this topic, even though it may be awkward and unsettling to some, and hopefully spark awareness and change.

I traveled home this weekend to celebrate some special things with my family. On Saturday, I went out to a nice dinner with my mom, two sisters and a good family friend. We went to Ballagio restaurant in Homewood, Illinois. We enjoyed some great Italian food and cocktails! It is kind of a drive from campus, but I would recommend it if you’re ever in the area. Following dinner, we went to one of my favorite southside bars, Grape and Grain Co. in Homewood, Illinois. They have a wide variety of beer and wine, live music and a great atmosphere! I would highly recommend Grape and Grain to any southsiders.

My sisters and I getting drinks and Grape and Grain Co.

My sisters and I getting drinks at Grape and Grain Co.

Today, we are preparing for my cousin’s baby shower! I was given the task of creating the shower favors and I got a really cute idea from Pinterest. If you know me, you know I get just about all of my ideas from Pinterest! It’s always fun to get some inspiration online and see your idea come to life! I love this shower favor because it can easily be adapted to fit any type of shower (baby, bridal, etc.). I am so excited to celebrate this new addition to our family!

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The week ahead will be a short, but busy one! We do not have class Thursday or Friday this week due to the Easter holiday, but I have a lot of work to get done in the next three days! Getting closer to the end of my final semester!

Countdown to graduation: 1 month 16 days 14 hours 18 minutes 6 seconds

Until next time…

 

Who Really Needs Sleep?

Hello all! Once again, this week has been another crazy, sleepless week! On Monday, I felt lucky because my teacher for field experience allowed me to teach her second reading class after I observed her first reading class. It was awesome to actually be teaching the lesson plan and being involved in the class. I asked the class what they should call me because of my double last name and they asked for Ms. Garcia, which is what I decided to go with! (Sorry, mom) And after I finished the lesson, the class clapped for me!

IMG_1467Later on Monday around lunchtime, I found out that Bernie Sanders was going to be at Roosevelt University (in downtown Chicago). Once I found this out, I knew that this was finally my chance to see him! So I talked with some friends and we decided that we would leave right after my MSPJ (Mercy Students for Peace and Justice) meeting! So we got in line around 6pm! And waited until around 8 for our tickets to go inside, seats were on a first-come-first-serve basis! Once we got our tickets, we were all super excited and happy because that meant us leaving campus and waiting in line was going to be all worth it! Everyone, from those in line to the police officers to even the community members, was all kind! Bernie didn’t come out until 11 p.m. that evening, and my group of friends left at about 11:45 because I had an 8 a.m. the next day! Elizabeth, one of the friends who went with us, was also an election judge at 5 a.m. on Tuesday so we really did need to go! Even though it was a late night, it was completely worth the lack of sleep to see Bernie!IMG_1484

On Tuesday, I felt super tired and lost my voice from the night before. So when I made it to my 8 a.m. class, I felt pretty proud of myself! There was supposed to be a group presentation but one of the members of the group was running late and wasn’t going to be there for another 45 minutes, so my professor cancelled class!! This has never happened to me before but I gladly went back to my room only to start working on my homework… Not to sleep…

On Wednesday at Mission Day, three people were awarded for their outstanding work for our school and community: a student, one a professor, and one a staff member. For the student service award, one of my closest friends and someone I truly look up to, senior Kathy Rodriguez received the award! I felt so proud of Kathy because I know she truly deserved the award! Kathy is one of the most kind-hearted, genuine, loving people I know. She has worked to serve those around her and live a compassionate life. Kathy has helped me with leading Broadview, convinced me to stay with my ESL endorsement and just been a kind presence in my life. IMG_1609When she was giving thanks for the award her speech brought me to tears. It makes me sad to know that Kathy will be leaving SXU this May, but I know she will change the world and be a great teacher wherever she ends up serving.

On Thursday I was able to attend the “Working with Mercy: Health and Welfare of Women” which was a great event to attend! We had five SXU alumni who spoke about their current jobs and the areas of Illinois that they stressed needed the most assistance. The jobs that they held varied from non-profits to hospitals to being an organizer. It was incredibly cool to see how Mercy is still a part of them not only at home but in their work.

IMG_1643Later on Thursday, I was also able to attend “A Night with Political Cartoonist,” which was funny, informational, and interesting! I would say that everyone should look up “Keith Knight” and look at his “controversial comic strips.” He made many great statements which I hope to always remember. One of these statements was that we all need to be having these uncomfortable conversations about race and what is going on in the world. One statement that he also made to follow this statement was that it was good that we were uncomfortable with horrible events that happen in front of us; it shows that we are still human, but that we have to do something about these events. Silence is acceptance.

On Friday, we had another trip to Broadview Deportation Center! IMG_1650Joining us was not only many community members but also reporters and camera crew form Salt and Light Catholic TV! We had a great turnout and it was just another great experience to be a part of! The final date for Broadview is April 1, so if you would like to sign up just contact me at garciafisher.g01@mymail.sxu.edu. We’d like you to be part of the change and stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters as they are being torn apart by our broken immigration system.

On Sunday, we had open house for admitted students for the class of 2020! It’s crazy to think this day two years ago my mom dragged me to go and hear about the School of Education, and I decided to change my major! Loving education, so thanks, mom, for convincing me to go and hear about the School of Education! Love you, momma!

Hope you all have a great Holy Week and a happy Easter! Thanks for reading!

Spring Break 2016

3.15Hey all! So these past two weeks have been completely utterly beautiful and ugly. From crazy midterm’s week to my spring break service trip in Tennessee, I feel as though I need another spring break to relax after this all! But life doesn’t roll this way! So onwards and forward!

The week before Spring Break, I was noticed that I was awarded the Dorothy Ritter Davis Scholarship. I can’t believe that I was picked, but I feel so blessed and honored! Quoting part of the award “The School of Education is proud to continue the legacy of Mrs. Ritter Davis by recognizing your commitment to excellence, compassion, service, and appreciation of diversity – qualities Mrs. Ritter Davis modeled in her 33 years of teaching. One of your recommendations noted your service and appreciation for diversity, ‘Ms. Garcia Fisher does not limit herself to a single group of people.  She is more concerned with finding solutions and supporting people with whom she can empathize, whether they be college students struggling to adjust to campus life, people trying to eke out a living in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, or undocumented citizens facing deportation at the Broadview Detention Center, where Ms. Garcia Fisher led a public prayer meeting for them so that they would know that others cared for them.  I know that this openness will prove to be an asset to her because jobs and populations are always in flux.  Teachers who can empathize with an array of people, as Ms. Garcia Fisher can, will prove to be much more effective.’” Writing about this two weeks later, I am still in shock that I was chosen!3.15 2

Otherwise, Midterms life was not all that exciting! I had exams and work so it was not all that fun… I did attend a student led Meditation about peace within the sea of troubles that midterms bring! RPM (Resident Peer Minister) Kathy and Rachel led it, and it was a much needed break in the week!

For my Spring Break, I went to Glenmary Farm. We were located on Joppa Mountain and the focus of our trip was a retreat-like mission-immersion program for those who are interested in sharing the mission and ministry of the Glenmary Home Missioners in Union and Grainger Counties, Tennessee through service, simplicity, prayer, and community in a rural setting. I had the opportunity to be part of the community by doing construction for the majority of the week! 1457526_10207778542768742_1610057522623339453_nThis allowed me to talk and listen to the families who we served while also working on creating a better life for them. I already miss waking up in the morning being on “God’s time” to see the vibrant, colorful, and captivating sunrise at Glenmary behind the Appalachian Mountains. I loved the peacefulness and stillness while gazing upon this wonderful view and hearing the melodic sounds of birds chirping and Belle snoring, then shortly after, hearing the wake-up call, “Gooooood morning! It’s another beautiful day on the mountain.” And finally I already miss the stars that filled the sky, how they shined so clear and bright when all I could do was to watch them. SXU sent a fantastic group of students who I felt honored to work with, it truly was a life- changing experience.

A poem that I have grown to deeply love from my trip was “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know

if you will risk looking like a fool for love,

for your dream,

for the adventure of being alive.

This is only the beginning of it! So please look for the full text of it! If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be of this. But it is also way too long…

So after a hardworking Spring Break, I came home to my Regina doom room with a cold and hives. I hope you all had a great Spring Break (hopefully ending better than mine did). And good luck on this first week back! Thanks for reading!

School’s Back in Session

So Spring Break is over and done with and I have yet to hear any horror stories of kidnappings, sexual assaults or robberies. My friends that went on wild trips across the nation so I was worried about them. You know those types, right? The type that’s way too air headed for their own good? I have a few of those friends. I was very concerned for their safety but when I see their posts on facebook of their annoyance of being back home, I feel relieved. Everyone went home safely. That’s a good sign. For myself, being a resident student, I went back home to my family’s one-bedroom apartment in the suburbs. I’m sorry I don’t have wild adventures like those of my peers. But what I do have is the time that I can spend with my family that I often don’t have. My brother lives in the city, finishing his last semester in college where he’ll graduate with two degrees. He and I are close but we don’t often have time to hang out or chat. We’re both very busy so having spring break at the same time is a wondrous time.

Here at Saint Xavier, after a while, you’re heart grows fond of the home cooking. That struck a deep core in me when I went home to a wondrous home filled with the exotic aroma of my parent’s native homeland. My parents are old.My family is old. My mother and father are the age where they could very well be the grandparents of most of you readers. My father is on the cusp of retirement but continues to work to support our family. My mother works as well but due to the language and educational barriers of her immigration to the United States, she works at or even below minimum wage for an electric manufacturing company. I am very close with my father. He and I are very much alike in our attitudes. We are extremely sentimental when it comes to even the smallest of things. When my mother buys me a new pair of those Walmart plastic sandals, I am overjoyed at the comfort that they bring to me, knowing they were gifts from my mother. My father yearns and weeps for the moments when he sees my brother off at the train station like some late nineties melodrama. I must confess that I too have a fondness for the bittersweetness of a train station. There’s something about its quiet steps and its smooth empty platform that draws a sense of goodbye and the promise of an, “I’m back”.

For me, I am back, back at Saint Xavier. I am ready for the spring and to see my friends again. So, until next time.

Back In Action

Welcome back,

I have just arrived back on campus after a week off for spring break! Luckily, we had a few really nice days last week that made it actually feel like spring!

A beautiful spring day!

A beautiful spring day!

 

I didn’t do anything exciting like go on a trip this break because I needed to use this time to work on my senior project. Although I still have a long way to go, I made some solid progress! The final product is due on March 30th, a little over two weeks away! And following that, I will be presenting it to the faculty of my department and receiving my grade in early April. I’m nervous already!

I did get to spend a lot of time with family and friends over break and I ate some great food! I’m not exactly looking forward to being back at my apartment and cooking for myself again. Towards the end of break, I traveled to the far north side of Chicago to visit my sister and her family. It’s always great to spend time with my nephews and enjoy everything the north side has to offer!

I enjoyed a nice bonfire on my last night of break.

I enjoyed a nice bonfire on my last night of break.

Froyo

Froyo

A beautiful sunset in my home town

A beautiful sunset in my home town

As I mentioned in the previous blog, the Schmitt Scholars are hosting an awesome event this Thursday! So, my week will be filled with continued work on my project and preparation for the event. We’re hoping for a fun evening and good turn out! Hopefully our hard work will pay off!

Our event flyer

Our event flyer

Countdown to graduation: 1 month 23 days 5 hours 24 minutes 23 seconds

Until next time…

 

Introspection: Choices

Spring Break is here and with it comes choices. If any of you were as unfortunate enough to have been forced to watch those anti-underage drinking or child predator public service announcements, you know what I’m talking about. I remember those horrendous days when we’d have to sit in the auditorium and listen to the principal ramble on and on before an equally boring video, as cheesy as the nachos being served for lunch, was played. I mean, it’s common sense that people lack in these situations, right? When I was a kid, these videos meant literally nothing. I didn’t go out to parties, I don’t give my personal information to strangers on the internet, in fact I hesitate and even try to avoid giving my address to friends. I had no intention whatsoever to drink alcohol and I never went out to do anything after school. It was pretty safe to say it was not relevant at all, at least to me. However, now in college, those messages that I ignored were becoming more relevant, not so much for me but for those around me. Dangerous situations that my fellow students would get into were becoming a reality and not just a situation in a bad Lifetime movie. It seems to be a rite of passage for the freshmen to partake in certain illicit activities during their time in college. It had been so since forever that it has become a trope in popular culture. You can’t ignore it because there policies against it. Since I work with the Housekeeping staff on campus, I’ve seen the evidence of that rite. Despite the fact that it is very hard, if not impossible, to stop it, we can make choices to mitigate or protect those that do partake. What those exact contingencies are, I can’t really say. I’m not an expert not report to be. I’m just a student. But what I can do is provide some basic common sense that I feel is lacking heavily nowadays.

have friends taking road trips and others are heading for famous or infamous, depending on your preference, Spring Break hubs, like Miami and Cancun. For myself, I’m heading home. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen my parents. I miss it, especially the home cooking. Living on campus, you learn to appreciate little things like having someone else wash your close or make your meals. Some people might call me a bore for staying at home and not “living” as they would put it. I just have to say this. I have my entire life to enjoy time for myself, to see the world. But I don’t have my entire time to be with my parents. They are old, old enough to be the grandparents of my fellow students. I know this and I know that reality comes with it certain attitudes and values. I’ll speak more of those values in a later post. What I want to talk about right now is choices.

We have choices that we can make that not only affect ourselves but those around us. When you go out drinking and having a good time, that’s one thing. I’m not some prude or prohibitionist that wants to ruin everyone’s fun. But someone’s fun ends when it directly affects the lives of others, physically or mentally. I saw this one post about Alcohol and Gender around campus. There is a need for people to have a bit of introspection when it comes to their actions. Common sense, it’s something we lack in abundance nowadays it seems. People drink, they party, they get high or whatever and then something bad happens and everyone asks, ‘what were they thinking?’ That’s the problem, they weren’t thinking. They made poor choices that ended in someone getting hurt. Granted, a lot of the time, nothing does happen. But for those times something does, we see it on the news all the time. I don’t need to gone on this issue, right? You were like me right? You saw those dumb videos, those repetitive anti-sexual assault courses that tell us exactly what we already know. I just want everyone to come back to campus safe. Choices, we all make them. Some of us make it on impulse and others on experience. No matter what process, we make choices and it’s up to us to decide, to think beyond the presence and think of what might happen if I do this. Go have fun this week. But make sure you’re making decisions you won’t regret. I know I won’t.