S P R I N G
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Learning In Style School: the School for Immigrants 4 Changing Times, Changing Needs 6 Empowering Adult Immigrants 8 Immigrant Voices 12 Unparalleled Teaching Staff 13 Volunteer Spotlight 14 Raise a Reader 15 It Takes a Village 2
16 A Connection Like No Other 17 The Whittier Neighborhood Education Across CSJ Ministries 19 Teaching Healthy Eating 20 Binding Up Our Nation’s Wounds 22 Theology in Women’s Voices
Creating a bit of magic with the Children’s Room Lending Library
Bold Moves is a publication of the Sisters of St. Joseph Ministries Foundation, a 501C3 organization whose purpose and ministry is to raise funds for the current and emerging ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province. csjministriesfoundation.org
26 Experience is the Most Brutal of Teachers 27 Join this Movement
Paintings: Chuck MacDonald Publication team: Jenna Bendel, Bridget Sperl Graphic design: Stratmarc
Editors’ Note The Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJ) began their ministry in the streets of LePuy, France in 1650. Over the centuries, the Sisters have built a strong network of schools and universities. Today, the Sisters have placed most of these institutions in the capable hands of community partners. This enabled the Sisters to return to the streets and create an education ministry with those who are newcomers to our nation and to those who live on the margins of our society. The centerpiece of this issue of Bold Moves is Learning In Style School (LIS), our school for immigrants, located in the heart of the Minneapolis immigrant community. LIS is an inspiring story of dedicated teachers, staff and volunteers who have created a welcoming home for students, many of whom speak little or no English and several who have never been to school in their native countries. It is a story of community, of students who care for their teachers and for each other.
A wide spectrum of CSJ social justice ministries highlight education, from nutrition to human trafficking, domestic abuse to theology, and to the ethics of inclusion. We invite you into the community, to see what we are about, and ask you to join with us in the movement. Mary Louise Menikheim Ralph Scorpio Editors
She Touched the Heart Jean Dummer, CSJ taught in the Education Department at the College of St. Catherine for 34 years and was the first director of St. Kate’s MA in Education program. In 2001, she received the College of St. Catherine Alumnae Association’s Teaching Excellence Award.
“Studying English education at St. Catherine’s, I had Jean Dummer for a number of courses. I still remember her ‘anticipatory set’ of the first class I had with her. A general methods class, the students aspired to teach a variety of different disciplines. She invited us to introduce ourselves and state what we would teach. And we responded, ‘English, science, social studies, French …’ When we finished, Jean again asked, ‘What would we teach?’ Confused, we looked at each other, and she said with emphasis, ‘Students!’ Jean’s first and ongoing lesson was that teachers taught students, first. From Jean’s perspective, if students knew teachers acknowledged and cared for them personally, they would be more motivated to learn whatever the content!” – Jill Underdahl, CSJ
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Changing Times, Changing Needs by Jean Wincek, CSJ & Katherine Rossini, CSJ
From the very beginning, the Sisters of St. Joseph knew that education is a fundamental aspect of justice and has the potential to transform lives, so they set about educating others in many different ways. Before moving into action, the sisters discerned the needs of the times by listening to those around them. In 1650 France, for example, the first six sisters taught lacemaking to women who were desperate for better lives. Two centuries later, six sisters answered a call from Bishop Rosati to come to St. Louis to educate children with deafness. Fourteen years after their arrival in St. Louis, four sisters set out for St. Paul at the invitation of Bishop Cretin. Here the need was to establish a day and boarding school for girls. They named it St. Josephâ€™s Academy.
Over the past 165 years, the Sisters of St. Joseph in the St. Paul Province, along with other communities of women religious, have built, staffed and administered Catholic elementary and high schools in the Upper Midwest, principally in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. In many of these places, they were serving an immigrant population. In 1905, recognizing the need to educate women to lead and influence, the Sisters of St. Joseph established St. Catherine College, now St. Catherine University. The ministry of education continues today in new ways. Since the Second Vatican Council, competent and committed lay women and men have administered and taught in the Catholic elementary and high schools. They are administrators, faculty and staff members at St. Catherine University. This phenomenon occurred not only because there were fewer sisters to fill the positions,
but because of the growing realization that lay women and men were also called by their baptism to serve in these and many more capacities within the Church. At the same time lay women and men were assuming new roles in education, some sisters decided to continue using their gifts as administrators and teachers in Catholic schools, while others chose to explore how they might respond to the needs of the times in new ways. They saw that refugees and victims of torture were arriving in the Twin Cities needing housing and English language instruction, so the sisters established Sarahâ€™sâ€Ś an Oasis for Women and Learning In Style School. They knew that many people who were uninsured had significant health care issues including the need for wellness education. Seeing this, the sisters initiated St. Maryâ€™s Health Clinics. In these three ministries, the sisters again put into action their call to serve the immigrant population.
Many women and men also expressed their thirst for updating their theological understanding and deepening their spirituality, so the sisters initiated Wisdom Ways and Hedgerow. Many people were looking for education on local, national, and international issues relating to peace and justice as well as opportunities to stand with those on the margins of society. The St. Paul Province established the Justice Office and the Justice Commission to take the lead and coordinate these efforts. In each of these ministries, the sisters listened to what was needed and wove their experience and expertise in education into the design of the new programs. This issue of Bold Moves features stories from some of these ministries. In them, the reader will see that the CSJ commitment to education continues in new ways in the 21st century. And the Sisters of St. Joseph will be there to partner with others in addressing new needs that emerge.
Nativity Grade School, St. Paul, 1923
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Learning In Style School learninginstyleschool.com
Empowering Adult Immigrants Through Education Ag Foley, CSJ - Director of Learning In Style School Learning In Style School (LIS), located in the Whittier neighborhood in Minneapolis and currently lead by Sister Agnes Foley, CSJ, has been empowering adult immigrants through education since 1994. The school was founded to provide quality education with an emphasis on building literacy and citizenship skills in a supportive environment to all who want to learn.
What drew you as a longtime teacher to found Learning In Style? 6
AF: Learning In Style School evolved over time. It started with a focus on the undereducated adult, not the new immigrant. Two things inspired me to create LIS. I had many years of experience in math education and then became a supervisor in the public schools. As a supervisor, I was appalled by the education that was not happening. People were going through the system but not getting what they needed. They were graduating without the basics. As an adult, if you don't how know to read and write, what is there for you in your life? Adult education became important to me, and there was very little of it going on at the time.
71% of people in the U.S. would let refugees into the country. * Inspiration also came from the Sisters of Loretto. I was a good friend of Sister Mary Luke Tobin, one of those unbelievable big leaders within the Loretto community and the church. I visited her in Denver and saw the work others were doing helping adult students one-on-one.
I thought it was a fantastic idea because there are people within our community who had education backgrounds and talents. They could continue to use these talents teaching the undereducated adult. We started preparing. By we, I mean myself (I was the math person); Sister Mary Clare Korb, CSJ (the reading expert), who entered the CSJs with me; and Sister Victoria Houle, CSJ, who was education personified. She started the education department at the College of Saint Catherine. Also Sister Marie Smith, CSJ, who had spent 40 years in Japan and understood teaching English as a second language. The four of us took a class at the University of Minnesota about how to teach adults, and we were certified. Meanwhile, Saint Stephen’s Catholic Church in Minneapolis was trying to do something with literacy and numeracy. We thought it was a perfect match for us. We checked with the Dominicans, who were doing some adult education in the area, to see if we would be intruding. They assured us that we could start a program on any corner; it was so needed. So we started the program at Saint Stephen’s. A year later, Saint Stephen’s sold their building and we needed to move. At the time, we didn't realize that we relocated into the heart of the immigrant neighborhood. It wasn't long before immigrants started to come. However, their needs did not match what we were doing.
LEARNING IN STYLE
We changed our focus and decided to serve adult immigrants. Immigrant students started coming in droves. We had a constant need for teachers and more space, so we opened more rooms at Calvary Baptist Church at 26th and Blaisdell Avenue. It just took off from there.
How did your focus change? AF: Teaching immigrants requires different approaches. For example, many immigrants are used to living and learning in an oral culture—more lecture and being talked to as opposed to individual reading and studying. We had to learn to make allowances for that, and at the same time, help the students learn a new way to learn. As a staff, we wanted to learn Spanish, and so a group of us took classes a couple of nights a week. That’s when we realized the importance of repeating. It was okay that the teacher repeated and repeated. It helped us learn. We forget what it’s like not to be able to read and write in another language, much less speak it. We started to slow down and repeat much more. We stopped thinking that slowing down was an insult to the student. We also started to look at everything we did through different eyes. Previously, on our registration form for LIS, we would ask potential students to answer questions in English about why they wanted to come to the school. You'd see barely a sentence and not the right grammar. We started to ask ourselves, “What would I have to do to write a sentence in another language?” It was eye opening to all of us to go through the same experience as our students.
What makes LIS different from every other school? AF: The best way to understand how this ministry is unique and special is to visit. We've always tried to be more than the place people came to for education. There are lots of complications that might be part of our students’ lives. As they become more trusting of us, we begin to hear about some of those struggles. We also learn about their culture and customs. I can give you an example. When we first started, we provided coffee and crackers for the students as a courtesy and a welcome. We soon realized that in many cases this was their breakfast. Students were coming to school hungry. We had assumed that students started the school day with full stomachs, when in fact this was not the case.
63% of Americans say the U.S. should do more to help refugees. * We teach the English language and can see the students’ personal growth while being loved, feeling safe, and experiencing good life moments in our midst. They know hospitality; and with their desire to work and to learn, they respond with warmth and affection to the staff. They raise their class scores, cram for the citizenship interview, and overcome challenges.
of Americans say people should be able to take refuge in other countries to escape war and persecution. * *Amnesty International, 2016 survey.
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Immigrant Voices Learning In Style School (LIS) is key to the progress of many immigrants, a population of hard workers, learners and entrepreneurs who greatly contribute to America. They serve in the U.S. military, start businesses, raise families, and more. In these ways and many others, they resemble all Americans,
many of whom are immigrantsâ€™ descendants. Data continues to show the positive effects of immigrants, and their success helps create prosperity for all. The following pages describe some of the struggles of modern day immigrants and also celebrates their remarkable successes.
LEARNING IN STYLE
LIS Was and Always Will Be My Home The story of a LIS student originally from Somalia
In Somalia, my life was limited because I was a woman. When I was 14, I moved with my aunt to a European country and attended a military school. Later, the US government made it easier for people from Somalia to gain political asylum, and in 1997, my documents were approved. I lived in public housing on the East Coast in the U.S. as I was without relatives or any English language skills.
Friends told me that jobs were easier with better wages in Minnesota. I started work in a position for a large Minnesota company that required no English for $8 an hour. I married and became pregnant. The very day I gave notice to quit my job, I registered at Learning In Style School. My main goal was to learn to read, write and speak English. I also wanted to learn how to live in America and fit into the culture. The teachers at LIS were my biggest influence and help for learning to adapt and live in America. After lessons, they taught me extra things like doing taxes. I remember the advice, “visit Duluth and then you will know Minnesota.” I experienced help, love and care at LIS. My life has changed because I can speak English with ease and confidence. To help me speak better, I read books and articles and test myself on the Internet. It took me nearly eight years to become an American citizen. Today, I am a single parent of five children. I am independent and have the confidence to try anything. I am active in my children’s school activities, work at a free K-8 charter school and am a freelance translator earning $40 an hour. I have begun studying culinary arts; I plan to become a chef and open a restaurant which will combine my Somali and American experiences to create something new and exciting. Already, I have over two hundred people who have pledged their support. Meanwhile, I help others fill out forms and make appointments. I teach them daily skills needed to live in America. I had so much help when I came to LIS that I need to give it back.
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My Big Day in America
My thanks for everybody for all of the things they did for me. God bless them and Learning In Style with happiness, and God bless the USA.
I remember when I got my USA citizenship with my teacher Martha’s help at Learning In Style School. When I started to take a citizenship class, it was so hard for me. Everything the teacher showed to us was strange to me, but on the other hand, the others students knew everything. I asked my teacher, “Will I be able to memorize all these things, too?”
Used with permission from the Minnesota Literacy Council, 1-800-225-READ, mnliteracy.org
By a LIS student originally from Togo
She said, “Don’t worry, it will be the same for you, too.”
I kept studying, and in few months it became easy for me. Now I was ready to apply. I did in a few weeks. I did my fingerprints. In a few weeks I got my letter for my interview. Two days before my interview, my teacher put me on the hot seat. Other students and my teacher asked me all the 100 questions. I just missed one. Then my teacher told me I was ready. I was so scared because I didn’t know how it would be. Finally the day come and it was so easy. The lady I met that day was so kind to me. After she asked me a few questions, she said, “Congratulations.” I gave her a big hug to thank her. She told me to wait for my letter for taking the oath. The day after my interview, my English teacher Laura organized a party for me. There was a nice, huge cake with “Congratulations” on it. In a few weeks my letter came. When I got it, I told my citizen teacher and my extra English teacher that July 2 would be the day that I would be taking my oath. They said they would be there. It was in St. Paul. I went there with my family. I was so surprised to see a lot of generous people who came for my special day, like my English teacher and her sister, my citizenship teacher and her husband, my extra English teacher and my kids’ daycare teacher. They were there with appreciation gifts for me. We were so happy and enjoyed the ceremony together in a big hall with many, many people from different countries. I was so proud.
Serving My New Country
The story of a LIS student originally from Togo When I started LIS, my teacher helped me to speak English and showed me how to find a job. I kept going to school, earned a high school diploma and started at a community college. I joined the National Guard and was deployed to Iraq. When I returned, I went back to the college and got my Associate of Liberal Arts Degree in 2014. Because I wanted to become an officer, I enrolled in a cadet program at a state university and obtained my ROTC Certificate. I then attended another university and received my Bachelor in Business Administration in August, 2016. With my BA degree, I moved from an E5 to a 2nd Lieutenant Platoon Leader commissioned officer for my unit. In order to be promoted to a higher rank, which is my goal, I need a Master’s Degree to further my military career. I have applied for admission to a Master’s program and I am waiting for acceptance. I recently went back to Togo and married my childhood sweetheart. We are expecting our first child this year. My wife speaks little English. She is currently enrolled at LIS and is a very good student. In fact, she won last year’s LIS award for good attendance. I help her with homework. We are building a small business hair salon for my wife. I am helping her each day with her English so she can better communicate with her clients and vendors. My life is easier because I can speak the language. Things that are simple to me now, like reading signs, communicating with others, understanding the money, etc. were impossible for me do until I found LIS. LIS was more than a school, it was like a sponsor.
LEARNING IN STYLE
The Difficult Road to the American Dream
I wanted to get a driver’s license so I could get to work easier. Also, the owner of the company I was working for wanted me to be his part-time driver. Teachers helped me get my driver’s license.
My life in Ecuador was good. However, many times when I argued with my father; I said I am leaving Ecuador and going to live the American Dream. Finally, my father told me, “You say you are leaving for America – O.K. I think you should go now.” So I did.
Now, I have two jobs. During the day I work for a landscaping company. I love this job. I am outside all day and take care of yards and gardens. In the winter, I do snow and ice removal.
The story of a LIS student originally from Ecuador
I spoke very little English and knew no one in America. Before I came, I believed the stories about a country where anyone could become rich if they worked hard. My dreams were broken when I found out that this was not true and that my life would be tough from now on. I knew I should have stayed in Ecuador, but I was too proud to return. The first years in America were terrible. I was unable to find work, and sometimes I had no place to stay and nothing to eat. Many times I just wanted to give up. I eventually met a couple of friends, and they asked me to go with them to Minneapolis where they said it was easier for immigrants. I moved in with some friends in Minneapolis. We became like a big family. I am still friends with them today. One of them was a student at Learning In Style School (LIS). He told me that the school was very good and that the teachers were helpful and nice. He told me that there were no requirements for me to attend LIS as it was free and he would help me register. I didn’t believe him, but my English speaking was very bad, and I wanted to get a job. So I went with him. The teacher helped me with my life style in America. She taught me to speak and read English, but she also encouraged me to get out into the community and be confident with my English speaking.
In the afternoon and evening, my second job is as a caretaker for three apartment buildings. I show apartments and repair small problems. I am still a part-time driver for the owner of a real-estate company. He hired me to be the caretaker for the building I lived in, but because I can drive, he has also given me responsibility for two other buildings. This job requires me to have good English speaking skills so I can talk to the tenants in the building. I am able to make more money because of this. I like to work long hours. It keeps me busy and happy. My life got better when I came to Minneapolis and to LIS. I have good English skills and I also understand the American culture. I have my certificate of permanent residency. I hope to become a citizen in the next few years. America is my home. I love it here and will stay here.
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Unparalleled Teaching Staff Many people assume that immigrant adjustment is much easier and quicker to accomplish than it actually is, as if “all the immigrant has to do is learn English.” However, learning another language is incredibly difficult. It takes hours and hours of study, and that is on top of caring for children, finding housing, learning to drive and the hundreds of other things new to immigrants that we take for granted.
Learning In Style is not simply a school; it’s a mission. The teachers come with an unmatched depth of expertise, experience and dedication. They know what an effective classroom looks and feels like. They create a great environment for adults from many different cultures. Their mission is to walk with the immigrant. English is the students’ greatest need, but it is more than learning to read and write. It is communication, how to converse with people other than those from their own country. The Learning In Style students learn to communicate with their own families, their children’s schools, at the doctor’s office and during the process of becoming an active citizen in the Minneapolis community.
Teaching staff profile:
Student literacy levels: Advanced High intermediate Low intermediate High beginning Low beginning
“The teachers dedication to me; they were like mothers. Interested in our lives outside of school. There was so much laughter and conversation. Lots of friends that are still friends.” “The teachers taught me more than English, math and computers. They taught me how to live in America, ways to fit into community life, and to believe that I could accomplish whatever I wanted to.” “The LIS teachers cared about me. When I came to America, I needed English like a flower needs water.”
More than 300 years teaching experience
10 advanced degrees
“I thank Teacher Mary Lorentz for teaching me English and giving me the confidence to talk to immigration officials about bringing my family to America.” “People cared about me and my family. LIS was a happy and friendly place. We were safe and not afraid.”
More than 50 years administrative experience
More than 60 years at LIS
“Teachers at LIS helped me get ready for a different job. Today, I am a patient assistant. I visit homes and help them with their daily needs.”
Cabinet-level positions? • What does the judicial branch do? • How many justices are on the Supreme Court? • Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now? • United States in the 1800s. • Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II? • Name one American Indian tribe in the United States. •
Volunteer Spotlight Volunteers are integral to the work of Learning In Style School (LIS). Each gives much needed help with his or her remarkable experience and willingness to pitch in where needed. LIS volunteers serve as assistants in the English classrooms, the computer lab, the math lab, the citizenship classes, the Peace Garden and the Children’s Room. Martha O’Toole, who teaches citizenship classes at LIS, embodies the passion and dedication of our volunteers. LIS Volunteer: Martha O’Toole Length of Time Volunteering: Past six years Background: Social Worker; Attorney for the Department of Human Services, Minnesota Senate Volunteer Focus: Teaches citizenship courses at LIS and helps create the library for the Children’s Room Volunteers are critical to the success of Learning In Style. Martha O’Toole, who has been teaching citizenship classes there for the last six years, has made a remarkable difference in the lives of the students who want to become citizens. To become a citizen, students have one interview where they must demonstrate the ability to speak, read and write English and answer ten out of a hundred randomly chosen questions about United States Government and history. In addition, they must pay $680.00 to apply to take the test. Martha makes sure students are as ready as possible. Once a week she teaches a citizen prep class. The class starts with students chatting with each other (great practice for the interview) and then focuses on the citizenship questions they may be asked and the writing portion of the interview.
Martha makes sure they know the answers to the questions, but also tries to relate the questions to experiences students may have had in their own countries. It takes approximately one year for a student to be ready to take the test. For Martha, teaching is a passion — she particularly likes teaching adult learners at LIS. The environment is warm and welcoming, the staff is incredibly skilled and the focus on the student’s success can be felt in every classroom. What motivates students to become citizens? According to Martha, there are three reasons: to become full participants in this country; to ensure they can stay in the U.S given the current political landscape; and, finally, to be able to vote. Teaching immigrants is a way to honor the past and pay it forward at the same time. Almost all of our ancestors arrived here from somewhere else and received help and support as they made a new start. Martha provides that support now for the immigrants of today. When asked what she would like everyone to know about the staff and volunteers at LIS, she says simply, “they are an incredible resource in the community — what a wonderful job they do.”
have? • What is the “rule of law?” Who makes federal laws? • The House of Representatives has how many voting members? • Why do some states have more Repres the House of Representatives now? • What is one promise you make when you become a United States citizen? • There were 13 original states. Name three. •
What is an amendment? • What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution? • How many amendments does the Constitution Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states. What is one power of the states? • What is the name of the Speaker of
entatives than other states? • If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President? • What are two The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers. • Name one war fought by the
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Raise a Reader Transforms Children and Their Parents Recently, a mother told Rebecca, director of the Children’s Room at Learning In Style School (LIS), that her child had approached his parents and asked them to turn off the TV. He then took them by the hands to sit and read a book to him. It was during story time that Rebecca discovered an unmet need. Sister Lucy would read to the children, with only one or two children listening; the rest ran around the room. Rebecca realized that the children had no experience of being read to… at home.
Rebecca, an immigrant from Zimbabwe, realized that immigrant children came with a severe disadvantage to American children. In Africa, a child typically is introduced to reading at age seven, whereas in America, parents begin reading to children in the womb. Early childhood research emphasizes the significance of reading to babies and toddlers for brain development, and this prepares children for primary grade success. Before even beginning kindergarten, the African immigrant children were behind their American peers. Rebecca introduced an early childhood curriculum into the lives of the little ones in short periods of class time. While their parents are studying English, math and other skills, the children are engaged in a sequence of activities that range from fine motors skills, to gross motor skills and interaction, followed by story time. The restless story time experience gave birth to the Raise a Reader program. LIS parents may check out a book each week from the lending library to read to their children at home. When the book is returned, Rebecca greets the parent with, “Did you read this book? Tell me about the story.”
The children have become a barometer for what is happening at home. During playtime, Sister Lucy often has a child next to her with a book in their hands, or one child is “reading” a book to another child. This is the magic of consequences: the parents are reading to their children, and in turn practicing speaking English. When a mother may not understand the text, she enlists her husband or older children; the result is the entire family is reading together. When parents read to their children, they become involved in their child’s adaptation to a new culture, and the gulf between their English abilities shrinks. Imagine the long term implications for the family as the children advance in school and school relationships!
LEARNING IN STYLE
It Takes a Village to Build a Village Thank you to our Learning In Style School partners.
Minnesota Adult Basic Education (ABE) Provides critical funding based on student hours
Breadsmith Donates bakery goods
Whittier Business Alliance Develops LIS-neighborhood connections
St. Catherine University, Masters in OT and Nursing Provides health workshops and development curriculum
Jesuit Novices Classroom assistants
LIS Advisory Council Outreach to the broader community
Donors All LIS donors are vital
image by Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ
University of St. Thomas, MBA Team Branding & strategic recommendations
Cretin-Derham Hall CDH students work 1 on 1 with LIS students
Sponsor A Family Provides holiday gifts to families in need
Clothes Closet Supplies free clothing
Black Forest Inn Donated a dayâ€™s profits to LIS
City of Lakes Waldorf School Connects children
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A Connection Like No Other During the holidays, Sponsor A Family MN (SAFMN) provides hundreds of families living below the poverty line with items specific to each family. SAFMN matches each family with a sponsor who shops for the family’s needs. by Mary Shimshock Initially, because the CSJs had the same sense of community commitment as us, when we needed a new home, we reached out to the CSJs. We shared the same “go big or go home” attitude in making the world a better place. Our shared focus has produced great results.
We clicked and bonded right away. As we interviewed Learning In Style School (LIS) families for the Sponsor A Family MN Program, we uncovered a depth of need in the families that was outside the scope of the LIS staff. We shared our insights and collaborated with LIS on how to help the families, beyond the program, with their specific issues. That reinforced our relationship with LIS; we cared about the families the same way LIS does. Sister Agnes Foley, CSJ was instrumental in how the SAFMN/LIS relationship developed. She treated SAFMN like an extension of the school and staff. That mindset has infused both organizations. What impressed me about the school, its staff, and Sister Agnes are their commitments to treat each student holistically. While not merely concerned that students learn English, they want to make sure that each student is successful and lives the best life they can. LIS staff continues to support students in that process. As SAFMN has learned about the school’s priorities, we have helped LIS. A recent example was the school’s desire for a lending library for adult students and the Children’s Room. We had two sponsors with connections to books, and we asked them to help populate the lending library with books from the LIS book wish-list. Another example of our partnering is when Land O’ Lakes asked us to speak; SAFMN and LIS presented together.
We are family. We watch out for each other. With the long hours and work intensity of SAFMN, it is a treat to be able to have a break and interact with LIS students and staff. What we appreciate about LIS is the depth of the CSJ commitment to community.
2016 SAFMN Holiday Gift Numbers: » 175 LIS families (875 individuals) » 29 women at Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women » Additional gifts given at the St. Joseph Worker Program ministry sites, including women on Hennepin County probation » 600 total larger community families (2906 individuals) » Additional 590 individuals with emergency gifts » Community giving value estimate: $435,000 » 760 volunteer hours logged
LEARNING IN STYLE
At Home in the Whittier Neighborhood Learning In Style School (LIS) is located in the Whittier Neighborhood, one of the oldest and most vibrant neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Whittier is home to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Children’s Theater Company, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the Jungle Theater, Eat Street, the Hennepin History Museum, the Midtown Greenway and much more. Experiencing decline with the construction of I-35W in the 1970s, the Whittier Business Association was formed to revitalize the neighborhood. It comprises residents, businesses, religious and community organizations. The Association formally recognized LIS as a key player in the Whittier community with an award. Known as “The International Neighborhood,” Whittier holds true to its reputation with diverse residents representing more than 30 countries and 25 spoken languages. Whittier draws residents with its affordable apartments and easy access to the rest of the Twin Cities. A meeting place of immigrants, professionals and artists, Whittier remains one of Minneapolis’ most diverse cultural hubs and the perfect spot for LIS to serve the immigrant community.
The Whittier Neighborhood at a Glance: Information provided by mncompass.org
Population: 13,970 2 or more races 2% Asian 5% Hispanic 16% Black 17% White 59%
Foreign born: 19% Median household income: $36,455 Owner occupied housing: 16% Renter occupied housing: 84% Average monthly rent paid: $815
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The CSJ Ministries make
ST. MARY'S HEALTH CLINICS
Teaching Healthy Eating, One Bite at a Time
Jorge successfully lowered his cholesterol levels without the need of medications. Coming to monthly nutrition consults since February 2015, along the way he lost 20 pounds. In May 2016, Jorge shared his success and inspired other patients at one of St. Mary’s Health Clinics’ nutrition clinics offered by Ioulia Peterson, Registered Dietitian. In the past year, 107 free nutrition consultations have been provided to patients referred by SMHC doctors and DEEP coordinators (Diabetes Education Enhancement Program). Health issues involve weight loss, diabetes control, GI issues, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.
Culture and habit are strong issues in nutrition. A common Latino diet often lacks sufficient vegetables, with the exception of lettuce and tomatoes. It is difficult to change life-long habits and add vegetables and fruits. Ioulia partners with Cooking Matters® (a University of Minnesota Extension program) to take patients on a dynamic grocery store tour. With low incomes, they learn how to buy fresh foods in season and other nutritious foods on a limited budget.
Emphasizing patient relationships makes SMHC’s nutrition consultations unique. To be successful in caring for her Hispanic patients, Ioulia speaks with them in Spanish, gets to know them on a personal level and establishes a trusting relationship. The patients have difficult lives; some are alone and depressed. Several lack family support. During their appointments, Ioulia spends time talking about feelings. There are many emotions involved with nutrition; for example, eating can be a way to fend off depression.
Ioulia introduces patients to mindful eating, a critical aspect of good nutrition. Eating habitually, a patient may mindlessly eat 8-10 tortillas. Ioulia coaches her patients to sit for 20 minutes and enjoy food, paying attention to body cues and taste. Her influence extends with a stop sign for the refrigerator to trigger reflection: “Why do I want to eat? Am I hungry? Or am I bored...or depressed?”
Busy lifestyles contribute to weight gain. As a result of working two jobs, Miguel had been gaining weight from eating on the run at fast food restaurants. At a nutrition consult, Ioulia helped him choose healthier options when eating between jobs. She guided him in planning meals ahead of time. So far, Miguel has lost 10 pounds; now he is close to his target weight.
Ioulia presents models of a pound of muscle v. a pound of fat as a strong incentive to change eating habits. Ioulia measures patients’ body composition: total fat, total muscle, and fat around the organs. Many are shocked to realize how much fat they have. Shock wears off, but Ioulia keeps the relationship with patients active by texting weekly messages of nutrition and exercise tips. With Ioulia's investment in trust-building, 95% of her patients are making headway to their goals. Her patients have made changes that result in improved health and nutrition, more energy, and greater participation in physical activity.
These two individuals weigh the same; however, the one on the left has muscle mass. The one on the right is, on average, 18 percent larger, because of weight from fat.
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Binding Up Our Nation’s Wounds Some mornings we wake up on empty to a day that’s got nothing but need. [i] - Mari Ann Graham, CSJ Consociate Professor of Social Work University of St. Thomas
As we continue to work through the new reality following one of this country’s most vitriolic presidential campaigns and surprising political outcomes, we may find ourselves unearthing layers of personal, historical, and emotional debris. Some of us needed Hillary to win as the long awaited role model for women and young girls, while others needed Trump to win because he represented change in a system seen as rigged against them at worst and deaf to their voices at best. No matter the motivation, when our personal needs become intertwined with our ideas about social justice and political efficacy, communication becomes strained even between friends and family members. Maybe you feel anger, fear, sadness and shock that a competent woman was not elected despite her considerable experience and support. Or perhaps you feel anger, fear, sadness and shock that you are now unfairly maligned as a racist, misogynist or homophobe, and misjudged as alt-right for supporting our elected president. Maybe you are overwhelmed by all that you don’t understand but thought you knew. These and many other emotions poke through the dirt like sharp bone fragments calling for our attention, asking us to consider if we are ready to participate in binding up our nation’s wounds. Recently, a small group of concerned persons met to [ii] examine these challenges. We considered an ethical framework to help us develop a nonjudgmental reference point for maintaining consciousness of our ethical preferences so that we don’t become cynical towards differing ethical positions. Pope Francis emerged as a symbol of reconciliation based on principles he developed in his work between Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and evangelical communities in Argentina more than 40 years ago.
In suggesting that “unity prevails over conflict,” Francis suggests that avoiding conflict actually undermines unity. He also makes the important point that it is possible to get lost in conflict, “become its prisoners,” lose our bearings, and project our confusion and [iii] dissatisfaction outward making unity impossible. Yikes. Pope Francis goes on to suggest that “realities are more important than ideas,” not something you’d expect a Pope to say. But what if we saw the realities right in front of us—the people hurting in our own families, workplaces and places of worship—as more important than our personal ideas and judgments? How might each of us begin to live into the post-election realities touching us now? If we truly believe (as Francis also suggests) that the “whole” of our country is “greater than its parts,” would we begin to appeal to a broader base of Americans as Americans in order to “speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who [iv] are in this together?” This kind of reconciliation, however, requires that we deal with animosity. It tends to linger long after we’ve regrouped and seemingly moved on. We know how painful it is to be on the receiving end of it, and how we typically respond to it. But consider these arresting words: As painful as it is to receive contempt from another, it is more debilitating by far to be filled with contempt for another. In this, too, I speak from painful experience. My own contempt for others is the most debilitating contempt of all, for when I am in the middle of it—when I’m seeing resentfully and disdainfully—I condemn myself to living in a [v] disdainful and resentful world. These authors go on to suggest that contempt is rooted in self-betrayal, and that having a “heart at war” is at the bottom of our tendency to “horribilize” others. For example, when I have a genuine impulse to extend a courtesy or kindness to someone on the “other” side, my heart is at peace; I am seeing the “other” as human and legitimate.
But if I don’t act on this ethical premise, and betray my own sense of what is right, I must now justify why I didn’t do what I could have done. It may not seem like very much, but over time, these psychological “set ups” can become patterns or boxes that inhibit future actions, making it difficult to open ourselves to others even when we want to. In Pope Francis’ spirit of reconciliation, here are a few questions to help us keep our hearts at peace and get us out of our boxes. Imagine that you are face to face with someone on the “other” side, maybe someone with whom you’ve recently had an unpleasant exchange. Now see if you can be genuinely curious about the following:
Eventually, we have to let go of our need to be right, which doesn’t mean that we abandon our values or beliefs. To the contrary! If we make the needs of others as important as our own, we expand our capacity to be fully present while also being true to our faith and to who we are. How else can we truly open ourselves? Our collective healing may very well depend not only on accessing the beauty within us but also on our capacity to see the beauty around us in the very people who challenge us most. As poets and songwriters across faith traditions have echoed throughout the ages:
• What are this person’s challenges, trials, burdens or pains?
• How am I (or some group of which I am a part) adding to these challenges, trials, burdens and pains? • In what ways have I (or members of my group) neglected or mistreated this person (knowingly or unknowingly)? • In what ways are my boxes preventing me from seeing the truth about this person and possibly interfering with potential solutions? • What am I feeling I could do to support this [vi] person? As people of good will continue to rise above the pettiness and create soul-full alternatives to the rancor that still runs rampant, we need to find “out of the box” places where we can meet people in their full humanity. When we relate to others from that vantage point, we create more spaciousness for others as well as ourselves. When our hearts are at peace, we don’t feel pressured to agree with every point of view, nor do we feel the need to defend one position exclusively; we are free to respond more authentically and with less fear.
[i] From “Let Beauty Now Be,” The Illumination Band in One Song (2005). Philadelphia: Running Press, p. 83. [ii] “Ethic of Inclusion: Getting Unstuck,” October 12th, 19th, and 26th. Wisdom Ways, St. Paul, MN. [iii] Joy of the Gospel (2013), paragraphs 227-228. [iv] M. Lilla, “The End of Identity Liberalism,” New York Times, November 20th, 2016. [v] The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict (2006), Arbinger Institute, p. 96. [vi] Adapted from Anatomy of Peace (2006), pp. 186-187. [vii] From “Let Beauty Now Be,” The Illumination Band in One Song (2005). Philadelphia: Running Press, p. 83.
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Theology in Women’s Voices by Joan Mitchell, CSJ Christians of every age must answer the question Jesus puts to his disciples in the gospels, “Who do you say that I am?” In the three synoptic gospels Peter answers, “You are the messiah.” The Hebrew word messiah means the anointed one, the king; the word in Greek is Christos. Until women began studying theology in numbers, few theologians noticed that in John’s gospel a woman answers Jesus’ question about who he is. Jesus proclaims to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and then asks, “Do you believe this?” Martha answers in words similar to Peter’s, “Yes, I have come to believe that you are the messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world” (John 11.25-27).
Eight women theologians from five continents responded to Jesus’ question during the Wisdom Ways Fall Soul Conference: The Strength of Her Witness, October 28-29 (2016). Theologian Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, Elizabeth Johnson lectured and introduced the women scholars Friday evening at St. Catherine University O’Shaughnessey Auditorium to a crowd of several hundred. A capacity crowd spent Saturday listening and engaging with each theologian in turn at Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Carondelet Center in St. Paul. Teaching her class in Christology at Fordham University frequently took Sister Elizabeth to the library. She needed articles to add women’s voices to the many men’s voices already wrestling with who Jesus is for us today. Some of the articles she collected form a new book entitled The Strength of Her Witness: Jesus Christ in the Global Voices of Women (Orbis 2016). The theological work of 25 women from six continents form a symphony of voices, speaking from their cultures for our times. Seven of these theologians joined Sister Elizabeth for the Soul Conference.
Joan Mitchell with Astrid Lobo Gajiwala The book title, The Strength of Her Witness, comes from John’s gospel chapter four, where a nameless Samaritan woman meets Jesus at a well. In their conversation she recognizes Jesus has come in spirit and truth to include her people in his community. This woman whom the Eastern Church calls Photina (light bearer) leaves her water jar behind and goes to tell her townspeople she has found the messiah. The strength of the Samaritan woman’s word and witness brings her people to hear Jesus for themselves, just as the strength of our witness today invites our daughters and sons to encounter Jesus for themselves. The Soul Conference and the book focus first on the “Easter Experience” and the woman who in all four gospels is the primary witness of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection— Mary of Magdala. The gospel we hear on Easter Sunday never includes her story. It stops before Mary Magdalene encounters Jesus risen and receives his commission to announce his resurrection to the other disciples.
Sister Terese Okure
For Sister Terese Okure, the encounter and the commission reveal who Jesus is and who we are as his followers. Sister Terese is Professor of New Testament and Gender Hermeneutics at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
WISDOM WAYS: HEDGEROW wisdomwayscenter.org
In John 20.11-18, Mary Magdalene stays at the empty tomb grieving. Two angels ask, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Then a man she presumes to be the gardener asks the same question, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” When Mary Magdalene hears the figure say her name, she recognizes Jesus and responds, “Teacher.” Jesus then commissions Mary Magdalene to “Go tell my brothers and sisters that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” His followers share Jesus’ inseparable relationship with his Father; we are children of God, Sister Terese explains. Just as inseparably Jesus entrusts us as brothers and sisters to one another. “The risen Jesus entrusted to Mary Magdalene, a woman, the foundational message of the resurrection for the entire group of believers, namely, that they are now children of God and hence brothers and sisters to him and to one another.” Joy Ann McDougal from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta draws on the example of Mary Magdalene in her work of preparing young women for ministry. “Grace disrupts,” says Joy Ann McDougal McDougal, “the way it disrupts and redirects Mary Magdalene from grief to her witness as apostle to the apostles.” Mary grieves her lost expectations of Jesus until her ears and eyes open and she sees the new possibilities of his risen presence. McDougal sees in the Easter scene the inviolable worth of the particular, of being called by name and authorized to proclaim the good news. “Who do you say that I am?” is the basic question in Christology, the branch of theology in which believers seek to understand their faith in Jesus. Traditionally, Christology is not a very woman-friendly branch of theology. Many theologians equate Jesus’ humanity with maleness and use his biological sex to argue against ordaining women and for female inferiority. This new book draws not only on scripture but on women’s rich experience of Jesus in their lives, offering a convincing testimony that the Church needs to draw on women’s witness to reflect fully who Jesus is in the Body of Christ.
Photo courtesy of Kabeya Media
In the context of Brazil, Latina theologian Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer sees faith and justice inseparably linked. She stands in solidarity with women who are often those to whom the preferential Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer option for the poor most applies. She remembers bishops going to northeast Brazil to be with the people during a drought. They found many women abandoned with their children and no resources. One anonymous mother had a baby nursing, one in the womb, one hanging on her, and others. The baby kept crying; a bishop urged the mother to give the child food. She pulled open her blouse to show her bleeding breast. She had no more milk to give. In this woman Bingemer sees the real presence of Christ, in this mother who gives totally of herself, even her own blood, that others might live. When the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean committed themselves at Medellin, Colombia, to the preferential option for the poor in 1968, the mission infected Bingemer. Not only does she see the real presence of Christ in the nursing mother, but also in the Madres de la Mayo of Argentina, who began gathering in 1977 to witness to “the disappeared,” their sons and daughters whom the military dictatorship had kidnapped and murdered. In 2016,they made their 1,500th protest.
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A former president of the Association of Theology and Liberation in Brazil, Bingemer apologized as she stepped to the microphone for having to read her talk. “English is not my first language,” she explained. “In fact, it’s not my second, or actually my third, or fourth. It’s my fifth.” She is a professor of theology at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.
In the context of Mexico, Hispanic theologian Maria Pilar Aquino understands Jesus as liberator of the oppressed. One meets him through participating in la lucha, the struggle of the oppressed for dignity and life. Maria Pilar Aquino “Something is wrong with living in the terrible deprivation so many do,” she says. “Faith motivates me to seek justice. Theology is knowledge for liberation and service of the people.” Aquino speaks especially for the women who cross the border daily to do farm work in the U.S, the same way her father did to raise his eight children. For Aquino, Jesus brings among us the God of life, empowering people to seek and work together for all that they need to thrive. “Jesus’ whole life speaks of a God who is not indifferent to the unjust misfortunes of the poor and oppressed,” she says. Dr. Aquino heads the Theology Department at the University of San Diego, participates in the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians, and is a founder of the Journal of Hispanic/Latino Theology. Her theological writing testifies to the value of working with theologians across cultures. Mothering is a theme for Jeannine Hill Fletcher, a mother of three and professor of theology at Fordham University. Mary mothered Jesus into being himself, Hill Fletcher begins. In Luke 13.34, looking over Jeannine Hill Fletcher Jerusalem, Jesus desires to gather people together like a mother hen who “gathers her brood under her wings.” Hill Fletcher proposes Jesus learned from those who mothered him that “to be human is not to be autonomous, self-directed, and free, but rather to be willingly restrained by those relationships to which one is committed.”
Photo courtesy of Kabeya Media
She offers breast feeding as an example of self-giving love. “It requires commitment all night and all day to giving of the self to the needs of the other. . . .Humanity suckles at the breasts of Christ as Christ gives himself for the lives of many, and Christians are called to carry on that mother role for a world in need.” Hill Fletcher quotes a young Muslim woman: We feed them milk; we feed them love; We feed them hatred; Whatever we feed them they will eat And they will become. A Catholic married to a Hindu, Astrid Lobo Gajiwala from Mumbai, India, reflects on how much of her life she has put into giving life—into body, bread, blood. Her children’s need to be close have made her aware Astrid Lobo Gajiwala of her body and its energy going out to them. “This is my body given up for you,” her essay in the book begins. “Take and eat.” Dr. Gajiwala sees mothers living Eucharist in daily life from nursing babies to setting family tables with what they have, no matter how little. Women break the bread of their lives to feed the hungry in our world. “Chronic anemia and osteoporosis are the signs of this Eucharistic ritual that binds all women together across the divides of creed, caste, race, and class…dying to ourselves so that another may have life in a process that never ends.”
WISDOM WAYS: HEDGEROW
She imagines God as a mother who must claim us as she does her children. “At birth, the God-Mother must hold us close, suckle us tenderly, and whisper a never to be forgotten memory, ‘This is my body, this is my blood’ as She sends us on our way.” The presence of the community at Mass is not incidental to the action taking place but of the essence, Gajiwala reminds us. “The call to make the Eucharist is not realized only in the one who presides, but in all who give flesh to the Eucharist in life.” For 30 years Gajiwala has belonged to a women’s feminist group that has learned and shared theology together. Over time, they have become advisers about women’s issues for their bishops in India. “The flesh of Jesus is the hinge of salvation and the door must swing wide,” says Shawn Copeland, Professor of Theology at Boston College. As an African American theologian, hers is a Christology of Shawn Copeland inclusion. Race, gender, sexuality, culture all mark bodies and make them individual, particular, different, and vivid, Copeland says. “These marks delight as much as they unnerve. They impose limitation: some insinuate exclusion, others inclusion. Often, the body’s marks become more complex through creolization, mestizaje and hybridity. In every instance the marked body denotes a boundary that matters.” But the people of the Church are the flesh of Christ in every age. “The mark of Christ, the baptismal sign of the cross, counts for more, trumps all marks.”
Photo courtesy of Kabeya Media
Photo courtesy of Kabeya Media
“In Christ, there is neither brown nor black, neither red nor white; in Christ, there is neither Creole nor mestizo, neither senator nor worker in maquiladoras. In Christ, there is neither male nor female, neither gay/lesbian nor straight, neither heterosexual nor homosexual (after Galatians 3.28). We are all transformed in Christ; we are his very own flesh.” Elizabeth Johnson’s editorship brought seven women theologians together for Wisdom Ways Soul Conference and 25 women theologians together in her new book. She writes, “The theological insights generated by the work of women, whose long silenced voices are now thrillingly speaking out, make a rich contemporary contribution to the vital task of faith seeking understanding. The strength of their witness is an accumulating treasure.”
ST. JOSEPH WORKER PROGRAM stjosephworkers.org
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“Experience is the most brutal of teachers, but you learn, by God, you learn.” – C.S. Lewis by Kristen Sykes, SJW As a Religion and English major at St. Olaf College, I spent time reading, writing, and encountering ideas that shaped the way I thought about the world. At times, this felt removed from reality, bound by the barriers of a textbook and unrelated to being a relational human being. Beginning work as a St. Joseph Worker (SJW) at Jeremiah Program, I realized that my graduation from academia was less an end to my formal education than a springboard into the exhausting and exhilarating work of the “real world.”
My time as a SJW has validated Lewis’ words. I am humbled by how much I have to learn. Each night, I return home to my SJW community overcome with new questions, critiques, doubts, and reflections. Daily, I feel called to deconstruct and reimagine what I thought I knew about myself, my neighbors, the systems at work in the world, and what it means to live simply and compassionately, creating a new tomorrow by empowering one another today. As a SJW, I am learning how to follow a monthly budget, react when the last helping of soup disappears, and be attentive to vulnerable confessions of a housemate when all I want is to sleep off a long day. I am learning how to communicate effectively, dispose of waste sustainably, and live hospitably— sharing both household chores and honest convictions of my heart with a network of women. I am discovering the layers of privilege of white skin and the vulnerability of a female body, especially when commuting alone or at night. I am learning to admit to my ignorant misunderstandings and to celebrate the infinite diversity of creation. I am learning to live in an intentional community in a world that lacks and craves more intentionality. Like the St. Joseph Worker Program, Jeremiah Program is built upon a few key pillars: safe and affordable housing, quality early childhood education, committed support for single moms completing post-secondary degrees, group life-skills classes, and one-on-one life-skills coaching.
Like the SJW Program, Jeremiah fosters continuous education beyond the walls of the classroom. Dedication to education is knit within our organization and expected from each person— moms, kids, staff, and volunteers alike. At Jeremiah, I am learning about the complexities of life, soaking up wisdom from wide-eyed kiddos, fierce moms, and brave co-workers. As a Program Assistant for the Family Services Team, I contribute primarily to the pre-admissions side of Jeremiah. I screen applications and conduct intensive two-hour interviews for all eligible applicants. I also carry my own case load, meeting with moms weekly to coach them through the pre-admissions process and transition the entire family into residency. One of my biggest tasks is learning new languages. I am learning the language of county benefits— a way of speaking that involves more acronyms, abbreviations, and patience than I could have imagined. I am learning the language of trauma-informed care— a way of communicating that requires careful attention to the histories woven within our brains and bodies. I am learning the language of children— a way of looking at the world as a place to explore, delighting in the gentle and safe touch of another human being, and laughing with your eyes, tummy, mouth, and hands. I am learning the language of social justice work— a way of being in the world that challenges us to break down the socially constructed boundaries dictating which lives matter and to create open-minded spaces where all may flourish. As a Jeremiah employee and as a SJW, I am reminded daily of the expansiveness of education and its ability to create tangible change in the world. I am learning that we are all teachers, we are all students, and we are all called to participate in the tedious and transformative task of life-long learning.
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