Laughter, Tension, Conversation, Community, Support, Relationships - Meghan Geraci
It's a little surreal to think about being back to the reality of our everyday lives so quickly after a week like LA Immersion. Though our community was only together a week, it was still strange waking up the day after and not seeing the faces or hearing the laughter In the kitchen I'd grown accustomed to experiencing in only a weeks time.
When I think to all the participants who were a part of our Immersion adventure, the motivations for going, the expectations for the trip, and the actual experiences were vastly different for each person. There were some who felt called to be there, and some who were a little more like me, unsure if they belonged on such an experience and a little unsure what the underlying motivation was to go.
We were quickly thrown into the experience. The first day was spent engaging in service at the Good Shepherd battered women and children's. It was restoring to see how people, who'd only just met the day before, worked together on every project given to us by the shelter. After a long day in the garden, we took part in mass and dinner with the Lalanne Marianist Community in LA.
The next day was Skid Row. I was most anxious about visiting Skid Row because despite what I've learned and read about it, I had never witnessed homelessness to the caliber of what it was like Skid Row. We had an early morning working in the Hippie Kitchen. My senses were overwhelmed at Skid Row from the smell of the cooking to the smell of the people. It was evident the wide array of people we were serving as I stood in my place in line scooping up onions for the line of people that call Skid Row home. Some people were clearly suffering from mental disabilities, some were dirty, some looked younger than myself, and some pf the people were so put together I would never imagine they could be living in a place like Skid Row. Another day, we walked the streets of Skid Row, and in the light of day, it looked like an endless line of people living out of tents, living in conditions unimaginable to me.
What comes to mind when I think of our experiences and time during LA Immersion the words that come to mind are laughter, tensions, conversation, community, support, and relationships. Laughter which came about from making new friends and experiencing new things with a super cool dynamic group of people. Internal tensions to try and make peace and wrestle to understand what we’ve seen during our time on the trip in places like Homeboy Industries and Skid Row. Tensions about what we have discussed and reflected on that will only resolve as we work through our individual experiences. On Tuesday all the schools arrived, we gathered together to share a meal as strangers, but we quickly turned into a community, who engaged in real conversations with each other, asked questions, and built relationships with laughter and support.
The relationships and connections formed from this service are going to carry on even though our time together is over. When I reflect on my time at LA Immersion, I will remember the little moments that stood out to me from our service encounters. I will remember coming together as a community and personally working to open myself up to others to engage in honest conversation. It’s surreal to think that so much reflection, internal struggles, support, and friendships could blossom out of such a short experience, but the experience is one that's genuine and welcoming, and totally worthwhile.
- Meghan Geraci, Junior, St. Mary's University