Today was our first full day in LA and it has been quiet the cultural expirence. As a Irish and Polish white American from Ohio I have very few opportunities to be a miniority, however today in LA was one of those few times. After waking up and eating breakfast, we met in our main room for an opening discussion. As we began to talk about the differences in our universities I was instantly energized with the Marianist spirit. While there are many differences in our schools, we all found a common ground in the family spirit that is so obvious on our campuses. Sometimes it is easy to forget how blessed we are to have the Marianists and their feelings of community so I was glad our conversation reminded me of why I love UD so much.
After our opening morning conversation, we piled into the car to have church at La Placita. When we arrived I felt a little like a fish out of water, in a refreshing way. No one in the crowd looked at all like me and everyone was speaking Spanish, a language that, unfortunatly, I did not take seriously as a fifteen year old high school student. I was mesmeized by the crowd of people, selling things and chatting with each other. And I was beyond amazed that on a completely normal Sunday people were crowding to get into the church before the last mass ended. It was clear that their faith was deeply rooted and important to them. I then sat through a mass that I understood maybe 6% of and I couldn't help but think about the international students at UD or immigrants who come to America from a non English speaking country.My confusion during mass had to be similar to their confusion every single day. They were speaking so fast, and even mass, an event I had been attending my entire life, and a little unfamilar. I can't imagine moving to a place where they speak Spanish all the time with my little knowledge of it, as many move to America with little understanding of English. Today I gained respect and a small bit of understanding for people in that situation.
I really enjoyed going through the market, which was later explained to me as looking exactly like Mexico. We fumbled around for a couple of hours and I really felt a sense of being immersed, although I completely realized I stuck out like a sore thumb. An expirence I hope everyone has in their life, but I hope not too often.
We then went to the Marianist brother's house in West LA. The brothers and two Marianist priests there were so open and hospitible. They all had so many amazing life expirences and all of us learned a lot from them. Father Skip has been everywhere from Zambia to LA's skid row to a brief, voluntary brush with jail. And Brother Jim has taught in every Catholic school between California and Texas and had valuable advice for a future educator like myself.
All in all this has been completely different from any other breakout. It has been very relaxed and I have spent most of my time learning from those around me and observing. I am excited to see what the week will bring and how the Spirit will change all of us.
Peace,
Megan Fox
University of Dayton-Middle Childhood Education

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