Seniors Share Their Arrupe Service Project Experience
Click on the photo above to see the entire album from the assembly.
The Class of 2019 gathered on campus one last time this past Wednesday to attend the Senior Breakfast and then shared their Arrupe Service Project experiences with the entire school community. Before the assembly began, Richard Joyce '19, class president, announced the dedication of the 2019 yearbook to Mr. Dan Costigan.
Mr. Haskell, theology teacher and Arrupe Service Project leader, then offered a reflection on gratitude. He spoke directly to the seniors when he said that Arrupe experience, "flows directly from the very foundation of why there is such a thing as Jesuit education. Your clients have schooled you in gratitude. They have opened your eyes to the giftedness of our shared life. You’ve lived in the energy and innocence of children. You’ve navigated the dramas of their conflicts and grieved for the circumstances of some of their lives. You’ve glimpsed the incalculable richness of experience in our elderly, and cherished your time with them, especially those few abandoned by their families. Your co-workers taught you gratitude. They made flesh for you the idea you thought you understood well enough - being a person for and with others as a way of life - and you were humbled."
All Cheverus seniors end their classes in late April and spend the next four to five weeks on site at various institutions in our community: schools, day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. The students work at the site for five to six hours a day (the equivalent of a school day) working with clients for at least half of the time. This is not a job shadowing experience, rather it is a human experience. It is an opportunity for students to put into action what they have been taught during their years at Cheverus and connect with their community.
The students must meet with a Cheverus faculty adviser once a week to process their experience, and write two 500-word reflection papers over the course of the month. It is a graduation requirement and corresponds directly to the mission of Cheverus to prepare young men and women to be people for and with others by fostering intellectual, spiritual, physical and personal excellence. Julia Mount '19 was chosen to share her reflection at the all-school assembly. Following the assembly, the entire school gathered into small groups where each senior shared their Arrupe Service Project experience.
The Arrupe Service Project, once known as the May Project, is named for Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., a former Superior General of the Society of Jesus. This program has been part of the Cheverus experience since 1972. Thank you to theology teacher Daniel Haskell for leading this program.
Julia Mount '19 - Reflection on her Arrupe Service Project
My service project was at Pleasant Hill primary school, the same school that I attended
as a young’un. Though it was my first choice for locations, I was expecting a
slobber-filled month with annoying little booger eaters. There was slobber, and a lot of
boogers, but I did not anticipate all of the redeeming qualities that those kids would
have. I didn’t have a lot of experience with kids, and I was honestly beyond surprised to
discover that I like them. They were awesome and they laughed at my dumb jokes.
They also kept me laughing the whole month... in fact lots of times I didn’t really know
how to react to them, but to laugh. Yesterday one of the girls in the second grade class I
worked with, very seriously detailed the events of a wedding they held during recess the
year before, and how she had officiated it. And a couple of weeks in, another of the
second graders asked me what sweet potatoes were made of. Though, neither event
compared to when a Kindergartener asked me what was on my nose, I said a piercing,
to which she responded ‘I want one!’ They were fun to be around I left my project tired,
but happy everyday because of them.
Unfortunately though, the kids were not always happy, and dealing with upset kids was
one of the challenges I had to figure out as I went through my month. One incident in
particular was when I was working in the art class. One kid starting crying because he
could not successfully trace a popsicle stick. He was doing the task just as well as
everyone else, but to him it wasn’t good enough and he was getting very frustrated. I
tried to show him how to do it, but that was not working. The sub suggested that I trace
a few for him, but neither he nor I wanted to do that, so my solution was to hold down
the stick while he traced it. It was quite an emotional journey to solve the popsicle
problem, but he was happy in the end, so I was happy.
I had another incident with an upset kid that stood out to me in my project. This time we
were writing letters celebrating a friend to tell them what we like about them. I usually
work with one kid in particular in this class, and on this day he was really discouraged. I
was told by his teacher when I first got started working with him that when he is unable
to finish a task, he gets discouraged and isn’t able to bring himself to do any of his other
work for the day. I figured that was the case, so I tried to cheer him up by making him
laugh. I seem to recall making a joke about an ice cream sundae with cherries and
toenail clippings on top that he enjoyed quite a bit, however it did not knock him out of
his funk. He still wasn’t up to doing his work; He was discouraged and sad, and it
seemed like the longer we went without being able to get words on the page, the more
he felt like it wasn’t within his capabilities. I tried another tactic: We took a break and I
wrote a nice letter celebrating him not just to cheer him up, but to show him that the task
won’t take that long and that it is possible. When I tried to give it to him he told me he
didn’t deserve it. I assured him that he does, so he read it and was happier, but we
didn’t end up getting his work done. He wasn’t actually crying through this, but he was
obviously on the brink. I didn’t know what to do, and I couldn’t stop worrying about it the
rest of the day. I wasn’t sure if I had made the right move, I didn’t want to be too stern
and discourage him more, but I didn’t want to make a ton of jokes either and distract
him. Eitherway I left the situation feeling like I had failed.
Yesterday as a thank you they gave me a packet with a letter from each of the kids in
that second grade class. Most of the letters said thank you for reading to us, playing
four square, helping us with our ocean projects, but I got a warm fuzzy feeling when I
got to this particular kids letter because he thanked me for cheering him up that day,
which I previously wasn’t sure I had done. Talking to these kids, getting to know them,
and even getting to like them was so awesome, and I’m really fortunate that I got to do
that, but it’s bittersweet because I got to see the massive differences between the
Kindergarteners and the Second Graders and how much growth happened in their two
years at Pleasant Hill, but I don’t get to see any of that growth from here on out. Two
years from now they’re going to be wicked smart and I won’t be able to see that. Even
though I’m sad it’s over, and I’m going to miss getting greeted with hugs from the
adorable little kids, it was an awesome way to spend the end of highschool.