By Nicole Yu '18
Notre Dame offers a variety of justice immersion trips to places all over our country and the world. The annual solidarity dinner, which took place on November 19 this year, is the best way to learn about the various immersion trips and hear from students who have been on the trips themselves.
This year the main dish was Stone Soup and it was prepared by amazing parent volunteers who spent all day preparing a delicious meal to serve the attendees. Each family who participated or planned to participate in an immersion trip brought ingredients for the soup to show solidarity and support for each other and the community.The evening also included a silent auction of beautifully crafted art pieces by our own Notre Dame students and faculty as well as a few local artists. Along with an auction, there were also raffle prizes to be won, many of them being themed baskets such as, “Movie Night”. But by far the most popular raffle prize were the green or orange pumpkins with succulents on top of them. The proceeds from the auctions go towards helping fundraise for future immersion trips so thank you to all of the amazing donors!
Along with an auction and a raffle, the dinner featured three students who participated in different justice immersion trips each with their own experiences to share. It was heartwarming to hear how these Notre Dame students, along with many others, took what they had learned about justice and compassion in the classroom and applied it to the real world. Their stories offered love, warmth, and hope for a bright future. Our students did an amazing job with sharing their uplifting stories with the community. Here is one highlight testimonial from Fiona Reyes '20:
"At Notre Dame, there is a big emphasis on our school’s hallmarks. Through the Neighborhood Plunge San Jose and the Urban Plunge San Francisco Justice Immersion Trips that I participated in last year as a freshman, I really understood two of the seven hallmarks: 1) “We honor the dignity and sacredness of each person”, and 2) “We educate for and act on behalf of justice and peace in the world.” At St Anthony’s, I realized the importance of treating people with dignity and respect. Even though I was new to St Anthony’s everyone in the dining hall was extremely kind to the volunteers, saying thank you and asking us our names. One guest would smile and say “Hey Fiona” every time I walked by. I would smile back and say “Hey Carl”. When we use each other’s names, we break down even the smallest barriers that divide us. That day I provided a meal and a smile. And while I cannot help everyone, I want you to know that all of us can absolutely treat people with dignity and love – it is not hard."
Having been on an immersion trip myself, I can definitely attest to the fact that it is one of the best experiences a student at Notre Dame could ever have. Whether it’s going advocating in Washington D.C. like I did or staying local to help clean up our California bay, the lessons and outlook you gain from going on an immersion trip is indescribable.