Center for Faith and Vocation

Students ~ Answering the Call

Mallory Winters, Internship at Bennedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center ~ Read Story

Mallory WintersMallory Winters '12
Intern, Benedict Inn
Spring 2012

My time spent at the Benedict Inn was a whirlwind of fun, learning, and new experiences. I went into the internship with a very stereotypical idea of who nuns are and how they behave. I have to say that one of my fondest memories of my internship will be experiencing the various personalities that I was able to interact with. Each sister, while refined and proper in their own way, had plenty of moments of spontaneity and joy that were completely unexpected. I feel so lucky to have this image shattered, and to know that all women, loud or quiet, boisterous or mild, are welcomed and made into one cohesive family. I was lucky enough to experience midday prayer several times. The group of women gathered at prayer seemed so humble, yet completely confidant and fulfilled in their life decisions. In my life I have made light-hearted jokes about becoming a nun, but in those prayerful, quiet moments, it is something I think I could really enjoy. The experience gave me a greater appreciation for what goes on within the monastery, but it also presented me with real experiences of the vocation. I was also fortunate to learn a little about oblates. This is something that really appealed to me as a viable option for my future.

Outside of the spirituality, I learned that there is so much that goes on behind the scenes of any event you attend. Between designing fliers, getting them printed, folded, stamped, and addressed, there is much that needs to be done for each week to happen. I was lucky enough to be at the Benedict Inn during a very busy time. Several of the sisters told me that this semester has been one of the busiest they have experienced. Each program, then, involved an initial mailer, Facebook posts, set up for the event, and post-event evaluation compilation. I played a major part in putting together the evaluations as well as event set up. I have a much greater appreciation for all of the hard work that behind-the-scenes people put in. Especially in the not-for-profit environment, every big event is an all hands on deck experience, and everyone is expected to chip in. The sense of teamwork and high expectations are evident, as everyone wants to put the be a part of the best programs they can. Another part of this communal experience was stepping up when I was needed into roles I may not know. When members of the housekeeping staff were sick, I took part in dusting, setting up rooms, and mopping. While this is never what I expected, it gave me a great appreciation for other people who are often overlooked. At the Benedict Inn, though, these individuals play a vital role in the daily happenings, and they are dearly missed when they are not present.

The final thing I learned were some of the difficulties in running a not-for-profit business. It is necessary to have extremely driven and talented people employed in order to get the full extent of the resources. Dema, who is the head of marketing and who I worked most closely with, is unbelievably talented. She designed all the programs, including pictures, blurbs, colors. She put together the website and each individual page. I was very lucky to learn from her, designing my own website pages, and writing or editing various program brochures. Without someone as talented as Dema, the sisters might need to reach out to various other resources for creative capital. Working with limited funds, talented and driven people are a welcome source of ideas and entertainment. Often, though, it seemed that Dema was stretched thin, again a product of the limited resources. I think that I would find it challenging to be involved in a not-for-profit business for an extended period. I do not know if I have the creative capital to be a valuable asset in the capacity Dema was. Also, I think I would find it challenging to not be able to do everything I wanted. It was good for me to learn the difficult challenges they face each day. In the event that I do end up with a non-profit, I am aware of the obstacles I would be facing. Obstacles aside, it seems only certain that it is the people, then, that make places like the Benedict Inn so special. They are not in their jobs for the money or the prestige. They are involved because of the people they are already on the inside, and the people they wish to become in the future. My time at the Benedict Inn was so special, and I know I will be visiting in the future. I could not miss the opportunity to introduce my family to the new family I was blessed to meet this semester.

Hannah Wysong, Internship at the Islamic Society of North America ~ Read Story

Hannah -WysongHannah Wysong '12
Intern, Islamic Society of North America
Fall 2011

For the fall semester of 2011, I interned at the headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in Plainfield, IN. Over the few months that I went to ISNA twice a week, I worked on several projects with ISNA's Youth Department and ISNA's Development Foundation. I helped create a promotional DVD and fundraising package, I outlined a presentation about college to be presented at mosques and community centers, I researched camps for the Youth Department to purchase, and more. In addition, I did various jobs around the office: re-named electronic files, scanned documents, stuffed marketing packets, etc.

Towards the end of the semester a man visiting from Pakistan toured ISNA's headquarters. He stopped in my office and asked me about my work. He asked if this work would help me with my future career. I had to be honest: this work won't directly help me with my career. I do not plan to work in marketing, or even have an office job. However, that does not define my work at ISNA as meaningless. It is not the actual work that matters, it's simply having the experience of the internship that does. What I did is less important than the fact that I did it.

My internship at ISNA has meant many things to me. I studied abroad in Jordan during the spring 2011 semester. My ISNA internship was a way for me to remain connected with a Muslim community (and hear some occasional Arabic). It was like a little piece of Jordan in Indiana. My internship challenged me to continue to think about and analyze Islamic culture, Muslims in America and our world, prejudice, religion, identity and appearance (both Muslims' and my own), among other things.

I think a lot about being blonde and being a minority. I think about gender: roles, boundaries, expectations. I think about how similar Christians and Muslims are (I had to laugh when I wore the same outfit to church that I wore to my ISNA internship). I think about the constant effort against discrimination American Muslims face within their country and within the broader Muslim world - striving to prove they are American, that they are not extremists, or that they are true Muslims. As I was re-naming electronic files to donor's last names, I thought about the English versions of Muslim names - spelling and pronunciation - and what that means (or does it mean anything?). My work at ISNA did not provide me with essential career training, but the experience only enriched my life.

Rose Booth, Internship at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic ~ Read Story

Rose BoothRose Booth '11
Intern, Center for Faith and Vocation
Fall 2010

I went in to my internship at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic without knowing what to expect. I had never worked or volunteered in any sort of legal clinic and had no background in immigration law. Needless to say I was very nervous and a bit concerned about how much help I was actually going to be to the clinic. However, many of these fears were wiped away when I first visited the clinic.

I met with the woman I would be helping during my internship: Fatima Johnson, a paralegal working in immigration law. What was meant to be an interview turned into an hour-long office tour and discussion of what I would be able to help with, which was very reassuring. NCLC always has more work than it can handle so they will take any help they can get, making the "interview" process pretty streamlined. 

My first two weeks at the clinic went by in a blur. I was more or less thrown to the sharks when it came to figuring out how to carry out the various tasks that I was assigned to do, such as: calling clients, organizing meetings, putting together visas, and filing paperwork. While it was intimidating at the time the staff were always nice about answering my questions and I now realize that figuring out how to do things on my own was very useful for future jobs. Due to my experiences at NCLC I feel much more confident problem solving in my new job as a translator and caseworker.

I truly enjoyed my time at NCLC and learned a lot about immigration law and non-profit work. The part of my internship that I enjoyed the most, however, was translating. A few times a month I would get to translate between Latino immigrants and NCLC lawyers. I also had the opportunity to meet with Latino clients and translate their affidavits from Spanish to English while they told them to me. It was very exciting to get to put my Spanish skills into practice because I don't get to very often on Butler's campus. It also let me get my feet wet as a translator and has led me to continue in my passion for translating and serving less fortunate Latino immigrant populations in Indianapolis in my new job. 

I would recommend an internship at NCLC for someone who feels drawn toward non-profit work but is unsure about what it really means to work non-profit. I would also recommend it to anyone who studies Spanish and would like to further their skills while working with some incredible people with heartbreaking yet powerful stories. Doing an internship through the CFV was a wonderful way to help me apply my academic and political interests to the real world and to put my beliefs into action.

Brianna Lamoso, A Semester with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic ~ Read Story

My time with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic was a time of growth that helped me form and prioritize my personal and professional goals for the future. I have never had the chance to work in an office setting, and I have to admit I was somewhat reluctant to enter the type of setting that I always thought I would avoid. My duties included translating documents, filing cases, interpreting affidavits, and other office duties. Each day was different, and each task was challenging in its own way. It was interesting to observe the attorneys and have conversations with them, as I have never been exposed to the work of an attorney. To think that I was contributing to their roles in social justice was inspiring to me. It made me think about the role of translating in many other settings, which could open up some very interesting opportunities for me, which is an exciting thought!

The most impactful aspect of this internship was my experience with the clients and hearing their stories. At times, I was placed in a room with a client, and as they told their story in Spanish, I would translate their words on the computer so that the attorneys could read it. My supervisor told me that in these situations, "only one person can cry." These clients have been through horrible experiences, and the real challenge was looking them in the eye, and feeling the pain they were expressing. Aside from this hardship, these one on one times with the clients really motivated me and gave me the enthusiasm I needed to feel fulfilled with my duties at the legal clinic.

Going into this experience with the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, I already knew that helping people is a priority and a passion of mine. I already knew that I wanted to incorporate the Spanish language into any service I do for the community. My internship with this legal clinic gave me a chance to implement both my desire to do community service and my passion for the Spanish language. It also helped me step away from the classroom environment and place myself in the "real world" setting that awaits me in a few months! I think this is important, better yet crucial to shaping my direction after Butler. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about the Hispanic community in Indianapolis and gain the confidence to contribute my part in helping them.  Through this experience with the clinic, I had the chance to feel purpose and importance through the task of translating and interpreting, and because of this, I am seriously considering continuing this type of work. The only regret I have is not spending more time at the clinic, but with my hectic student schedule, only so much can be expected at this point in my life! My time with NCLC was sporadic and short, but it is encouraging to think that in such a short amount of time, I gained a significant amount of knowledge.

Hannah Wysong, Intern, Center for Faith and Vocation ~ Read Story

Hannah WysongHannah Wysong '12
Intern, Center for Faith and Vocation
Fall 2009

How do I see myself differently after completing my internship at the Center for Faith and Vocation? I'm one of those people. Whether I like it or not I'm one of those "green," tolerant, peace-loving, global-minded, hope-filled people.

Before working at the CFV, I knew I was one of those people. I had strong beliefs about social justice and knew my life would be about helping people. But it wasn't until I worked at the CFV that I realized (1) other people knew I was one of those people, and that (2) Butler can support those people.

On Wednesdays, a mid-day Catholic mass is held at the CFV. One Wednesday, early in the semester I was working, maybe on a Big Questions flyer, when a retired professor came to the CFV for mass. He was early, so he sat down on the couch and began to talk to me. He had only asked me my year, major, and what I planned to do with my major (frequently asked of sociology majors) when he said (and I paraphrase), "You sound like someone who would be good for a summer program I'm working to start with the alumni association, an up-and-coming junior like you." The program consisted of alumni associations in various cities across the country sponsoring a current Butler student to do a service project for the summer. In fact, it was exactly something someone like me would do. He knew I was one of those people.

And those people can grow at Butler. As an intern, I was able to meet and connect with a variety of people at events like a movie night co-sponsored with ECO, Big Questions discussions, yoga, and an Interfaith Youth Corp training. It was through these interactions that I more clearly saw Butler's environment, Butler's students, and myself as one of those people at Butler. Previously, I was well aware of Butler and the activities on campus, but through my internship I saw even more facets of Butler. I realized that Butler could foster my type of people (not just Manchester, Earlham, or Goshen College), even with its reputations focusing on rich kids and good basketball.

I'm one of those people, other people know I'm one of those people, I'm one of those people at Butler, and Butler can support those people.

Ana Maria Baracaldo, International Interfaith Initiative ~ Read Story

AnaBAna Maria Baracaldo
International Interfaith Initiative
December 2009

At the end of the summer, I returned to the states after having an incredible experience in India that sparked my desire to further explore cultures and to devote myself to improving society. I wanted to return 'home', yet desired a place for thought-provoking conversations, a place to escape the often overwhelming college atmosphere. At the Center for Faith and Vocation, I found the ear I needed to work through tangled emotions and thoughts, the support to carry out goals, and an opportunity to take something I love and use it as an internship.

The idea of promoting interfaith activities at an over-programmed campus, where students may not always feel comfortable sharing their religious beliefs, intimidated me and I quite honestly felt somewhat pessimistic about the idea. I did not know how a core of students would eventually come together to strengthen this movement. Regardless, I was convinced by Charlie and Judy's positive outlook as well as by their vision for the community. Contacting campus leaders and other Butler students was often disappointing though, as their replies did not always match my expectations of student involvement. It did not mean that students were apathetic however, because plenty attended the various interfaith activities - from the three Habitat for Humanity builds to the dinners about interfaith activities, and meetings too. What I realized is that while I often waited for the most visible students at Butler to step up and donate their time, I had forgotten to see that those who did volunteer were equally important and willing to take part in the movement.

This internship filled me with optimism about Butler and the Indianapolis community. Seeing individuals from Indianapolis embrace their role as global citizens motivated me to promote this spirit on Butler's campus. By meeting community leaders and, at the end of the semester, hearing students' desire to engage in the interfaith movement, I saw the potential for change. Through this interest, I gained confidence in my ability to organize events and finally saw the possibility of using something I love to do to pursue a career. I have continued to see that peace building and that encouraging human respect is a continuous struggle, but that like any other task, changing the outcome is impossible without human effort.

Although my internship at the Center for Faith and Vocation will end and after this semester, the connection and relationships I have established with the individuals there will continue to grow. Furthermore, the lessons I feel have been reinforced, such as my patience, ability to listen to others, or my own perception of myself, are some that should remain with me. Prior to working with the interfaith initiative, I considered myself a peace builder, now, I see I'm not alone in this effort, but part of a bigger movement for change.

Kelly Geisleman, intern at Providence Cristo Rey High School ~ Read Story

KellyKelly Geisleman
BU class of 2011
December 2009

Everything just seemed to fall in place for me this semester (fall 2009). In spring 2009, I went to the Center of Faith and Vocation to check in with Judy Cebula. During our conversation, it came out that I was really struggling with my vocation of being a social studies teacher in an urban setting. A few months prior, while taking part in a local mentoring program, a young girl had lashed out at me, because she did not feel as though I should be her mentor, because I was a white, middle-class, Butler University student. Her comments made me wonder, can I really teach in an urban environment where the students come from vastly different backgrounds than my own? Is that what all of my students are going to be thinking everyday as I teach them?

Judy told me about this new connection the Center of Faith and Vocation had made with Providence Cristo Rey High School in downtown Indianapolis. Providence Cristo Rey High School is a private, coeducational, college-preparatory high school with a focus of educating students from urban environments. On top of attending classes, students also get to do real-life corporate work study at local businesses around Indianapolis. It sounded like this would be the perfect place for me to really figure out if the urban teaching environment was right for me.

At Providence Cristo Rey, I worked as an intern in the guidance department. Everyday brought on a different experience and I got introduced to a wide range of issues that I had not previously received in my educational training. I had the opportunity to learn more about students' standardized tests, send a letter home to a Spanish speaking parent (using my Spanish minor), looked up different colleges' visitation schedules for this year's junior and senior graduates, as well as, looked for scholarships to help lessen the burden of college tuition on these low income families. I especially enjoyed brainstorming with Maryellen McGinnis, the guidance counselor at Providence Cristo Rey and my supervisor, about how to keep students motivated or how to support students during their high school and college education. By far the best experience at Providence Cristo Rey was when I got to go on a field trip with the freshman class to the Peace Learning Center. At this retreat students were broken up into small groups to learn a little more about breaking down stereotypes and breaking the cycle of conflict in their lives. This opportunity let me see how they were viewing the world.

As I reflect on the past semester I realize how much I have learned about myself and my future career as a teacher. I have realized that I do want to teach in an urban environment. This experience has also helped me process what happened between myself and my mentee. Today I continue to reflect upon best education practices and what it is going to mean for me to be a teacher in an urban environment. The internship at Providence Cristo Rey High School through the Center of Faith and Vocation has helped me as I work through those questions and has provided me more confidence to begin student teaching and a full-time career in education.

Matt Puskar, intern at the Indiana Information Center Against Capital Punishment ~ Read Story

Internship Article ~ 4/20/2004

I still remember the day that I came across the ad for an internship with the IICACP through the Center for Faith and Vocation. Immediately upon reading the details, I knew that the job was meant for me and was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. I was about to face my final semester at Butler and an unknown and unstable future. Yet, little did I know that my experience with the internship was not only preparing me with the skills I would need for future employment but for the decisions I would be making for the rest of my life, helping me to better understand who I am and what my role is in the world.

Working with the IICACP was a great opportunity to witness firsthand, the inner-workings of a professional organization that was dedicated to promoting a critical change in the way our justice system works. From the very beginning, I performed research and conducted interviews with senior activists and board members to become familiar with the arguments and the successes and failures of the movement. Before long, I found myself forming the IICACP's official strategy for a moratorium campaign and university campaign, while at the same time organizing a local chapter on Butler's campus and creating a state-wide network of students, faculty and staff who are working to abolish Capital Punishment.

At first, I was very nervous about my new responsibilities and the seriousness of the issue. I did not want to let the organization or the movement down in any way. However, after the first month the board made it clear that they were satisfied with my work and my confidence slowly grew. Looking back on all that I've learned and accomplished this semester, I can't help but feel proud of myself and the impact I made on the movement.

Yet, my relationship with the IICACP was only half of the experience. The other half was spent with the Center for Faith and Vocation. I met with the director, Judith Cebula, every week to discuss how the internship was going and how it was affecting me both emotionally and spiritually. In our conversations, Judy and I would discuss my role in the internship and creative ways of building support and advancing the cause. She was always a source of guidance and inspiration, giving me the confidence I needed to handle my many responsibilities. More importantly, Judy helped me to better understand who I was by analyzing my Catholic roots and the effects it has had on my personality and the way in which I view the world. She constantly challenged me to look deep within to find out about myself and to look to God for the answers that couldn't be explained.

As I stated before, my final semester has not been an easy one. I have been facing a major transition in my life and I have been extremely worried and frustrated over what I should do after I graduate and where I need to be. I felt extremely pressured to be where my family and friends were and not where my greatest opportunities for growth and experience lied. Although Judy could not provide me with these answers, she helped me understand a few things I could not have figured out alone: Wherever I was going to go and what ever I was going to do, I needed to be true to myself and my calling, even if that meant being far away from the people who have helped make me who I am - my family and my friends. Answering a call is like trying to say 'yes' when you don't know the whole question. And finding one's calling about taking risks, but they are risks worth taking. Of all the things I learned this semester, these were the hardest and most rewarding of all.

Now that the semester is coming to an end, I am ready and confident to take the next step in reaffirming my beliefs and challenging the status quo of social injustices. My internship with the Center for Faith and Vocation and the IICACP has provided me with both the skills and wisdom needed to confront this new challenge. It has also helped me to recognize my vocation as a vital feature of my personality and role in life. I can only hope that the Center for Faith and Vocation continues their internship programs so that others may be offered the same opportunities to learn and grow as I had.

Stephanie Kevil, Field Seminar in Nicaragua, participant ~ Read Story

"Faith and Community in Nicaragua" ~ Personal Reflection

When I decided to apply for this trip to Nicaragua, I had no idea what I would learn from it. I love to travel and experience new cultures and I figured that the faith and vocation part of the experience would eventually become important. As it turns out, I was right. Faith and vocation were the major focus for this trip whether I liked it or not. The readings that we were given, the independent study that I did in conjunction with this trip, and our experiences in Nicaragua have all changed the way that I perceive my vocation and life in general.

When I found out that I was accepted into the program, I had to decide what I really wanted to gain from this experience. The only things that I knew about Nicaragua before this trip were that it was a Central American country and there was a lot of poverty there. I have always wanted to work with people in poverty because I feel that the greatest service one can give to mankind is to help people live healthily and happily. I suppose one could call this my vocation. For me, this trip took the form of a test to gauge my reaction to the extreme poverty that I would encounter. I wanted to see if my reaction would be appropriate. Moreover, what is an appropriate reaction? Could I live the way these people live?

With this background, I began to research Nicaragua. I quickly realized that an understanding of the political situation in Nicaragua would be very useful before I began to research anything else about the country. I decided to do an independent study in conjunction with this trip as a way to force myself to learn about Nicaragua and as a way to focus myself on the non-for-profit work in which I am so interested. The focus of my independent study has taken a few turns and twists, but I did study what was most interesting to me; programs, like the one I was about to go on, that bring norte americanos to Nicaragua for the purpose of learning about the country. These were programs like Witness for Peace and Sister Cities, who try to connect the rather affluent U.S. citizens with the impoverished and suffering citizens of Nicaragua. I also made this my focus area for the travel seminar.

One of the first websites that I looked at for my research was the Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua (WCCN) website. This program opened my eyes to the plethora of programs there are that promote social justice in Nicaragua. It was one of the first North American groups that I encountered whose goal was to empower the people of Nicaragua instead of give charity. However, I was mostly intrigued by the organization's sister city program (Madison-Managua). The website for the program states,

"In the 1980s, many citizens in Madison, Wisconsin opposed the Reagan administration's military interventions in Central America, including the US-backed Contra war against the Nicaragua. Both WCCN and the Sister City Project provided a way for people in Wisconsin and Nicaragua to connect at the grassroots level to protest US governmental policy and promote people-to-people connections between our countries" [1]

I formally thought of sister cities as little more than a figurehead diplomacy between two cities; however, the website of the Madison- Managua sister city program clearly makes a strong political statement.

Before we left, there were a few articles that also intrigued me and set the tone for my reflections in Nicaragua. "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" was very interesting because I found the article somehow highlighted an area of racism and ethnocentrism that I had never learned about before. One sentence in particular became a very important theme at the end of my trip, "Whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work which will allow 'them' to be more like 'us.'" [2] I didn't know that I would learn this from my experience, but I did underline it as I read through the article. This theme will also be discussed again as I describe the trip to Nicaragua. As I digested that sentence, I also read "Hope in the Midst of Chaos." This article was the catalyst for my re-evaluation of my own vocation. This article describes the people of La Casita as self-determined, bold, and resilient. Yes, they received aid from many sources, but these people overcame the challenges and tragedies of Hurricane Mitch with their own ingenuity. As North Americans, we always think that we are really helping people when we help them become more like ourselves. In this case, I believe that it was much better that the Nicaraguans, while calling on North Americans for help, were able to implement Nicaraguan solutions to their problems. I saw much the same theme in all of our encounters throughout the week in Nicaragua. This article also highlighted the importance of faith for the people of La Casita.

As the week approached, I began to worry that I wouldn't know how to connect with the religious people that we would be meeting. I am not a religious person, but I consider myself to be very faithful. Our first church service put those worries to rest. The Moravian service was focused on community and justice. The service was so welcoming, open and connected to the people of the community. At the end of the week I wrote in my journal that my jaded view of Christianity had changed during this trip. [3] Coming from a place where the most popular uses of religion are an excuse to get away with child molestation (like Catholic priests) and to discriminate against homosexuals and virtually every other minority; I really didn't see any point to the institution. However, my experiences in Nicaragua proved that religion can unite as much as it divides. Religious communities do campaign for social justice, respond to the needs of people and (despite what I thought about the Cardinal) religious leaders do inspire real faith.

As I saw when we visited the Peace House, religion and more importantly faith can give people inner-peace, self-worth and happiness. Through her great faith and inner-peace Sister Joan seemed to instill a sense of self-worth and self-confidence in everyone she met. She seemed to radiate unconditional love and support. After visiting the Peace House, I wrote in my journal, "Perhaps this trip is bolstering my personal faith." [4] Prior to the trip I had wondered if my experiences, especially those with Christians, would influence my personal faith life. Without getting into details, I found that my personal beliefs remained firm, but my faith in humanity was greatly increased. Despite the deep poverty and the political problems that Nicaragua continues to face, I saw so many people dedicated to and working towards a better society.

This brings me to my most important discovery of the trip (at least so far). I believe I voiced in reflections more than once that I began to see things in a new light during this trip. Prior to the trip, I thought that the "job" of the norte americanos was to help people in need because we have such abundant resources. We should use the riches that we have and give back to the people that are so unfortunate as to be born into poverty. Now, I see that this reasoning is a little flawed. This is because these people that were so "unfortunate" are quite capable of handling things themselves. This is not to say that North Americans should stop contributing to fight to end poverty, disease, etc. However, people are much happier with things that they have created themselves. North Americans, contrary to our popular belief, cannot fix everyone else's problems. As Ann pointed out, "What does 'fix it' mean?" [5] On Corn Island I wrote, "It's not up to us [North Americans] to solve these people's [Nicaraguans] problems. But, we have to recognize that their 'problems' are interconnected with ours." [6]

Too many times in the past, North Americans have tried to come up with answers to questions that aren't necessarily ours to answer. We have rushed in to Latin America, the Middle East and other places eager to solve everything in a way that will benefit us. Do we really listen to those we are trying to help? Robert K. Greenleaf, the pioneer of servant-leadership [7] , said that the best test for a leader was to ask themselves this question: "Do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?" [8] Whether we come in as soldiers, missionaries, or peace workers, North Americans normally have the mentality that we are leading Latin Americans to a greater future. Instead of satisfying our own need to "fix everything" we should first be serving by attending to the needs of Latin Americans as they, themselves describe these needs. The people of Nicaragua, Latin America, of anywhere outside of the United States, are strong capable people. As Sister Joan said, world peace can only start with inner peace. Perhaps we all need to start with ourselves and our own communities. If we really want to help the people of Nicaragua and other countries, we do not need to travel there are work directly with the poor people.

With this new philosophy and with everything that I've learned from this trip, how do my life and vocation change? I will take a renewed interest in my own community, and my personal contribution to it and the world surrounding me. Yet, I'm sure that there are many more conclusions that I will draw based on my week-long experience in Nicaragua. For now, I'm going to follow the example of so many of the Nicaraguans that we met. I will work for positive change in my community, I will lead by listening to people and then serving their needs and, most importantly, I will tell people about the brave, hope-filled people of Nicaragua and their struggles.


[1] Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua. "History" Madison-Managua Sister City Project. 6 April 2004.
[2] McIntosh., Peggy. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" in Reading Book Nicaragua 2004 by Center for Global Education Augsburg College.
[3] Personal journal entry. 14 March 2004.
[4] Personal journal entry. 10 March 2004
[5] Herbert, Ann. Reflection. 7 March 2004
[6] Personal journal entry. 12 March 2004
[7] Servant- Leadership: Philosophy that to lead one must serve people first and foremost.
[8] Greenleaf, Robert K. "The Servant as Leader" Indianapolis: Robert K. Greenleaf Center, 1982.

Sarah Olsen, Field Seminar in Nicaragua, participant ~ Read Story

Nicaragua Travel Seminar ~ Craig Auchter ~ April 30, 2004 ~ Nicaragua and My Vocation

Vocation derives from the Latin "vocatus," which translates literally to "having been called." Before I went on the Nicaragua Field Seminar, which was heavily subsidized by the Center for Faith and Vocation of Butler University, I never really actively thought about my "vocation" or my own "calling," at least not in a very long time. The recent introduction of the word "vocation" immediately challenged me to be much more conscious of my long term goals and aspirations. I still would be very hesitant to think of my vocation in the terms of a religious calling because I am not a person of organized faith. I am a person of conscience and so I believe my vocation is one of social conscience in the pursuit of peace and justice. Traveling to Nicaragua strengthened my resolve to be an instrument of positive social change and expanded the realm of what I have actually seen with my own two eyes.

When I prepared myself for the Nicaragua travel seminar, I was not thinking about my life's vocation, but more in my immediate goals for the trip, which were shaped largely by what I already knew about Nicaragua and my preoccupation with social justice. In the "Education for Life" section of the packets we received from the Center for Global Education, the goals for our seminar were described as "understanding the root causes of poverty and injustice and becoming more aware of cultural biases" (2). I would say that these closely adhered to my own goals for the Nicaragua trip.

Poverty and the disparity in wealth distribution are perhaps the most fundamental problems our world faces today. So many other problems can be traced back to the fundamental inequity of the world. "According to the U. N. Human Development Report of 1992, the richest 20 percent of humanity hoards 83 percent of the world's wealth, while the poorest 60 percent of humanity subsists on 6 percent of the wealth" (Gorostiaga 9). I am sure this figure has only been exacerbated in the last ten years with the rapid 'globalization' of corporate business interests. Xabier Gorostiaga writes for the National Catholic Reporter, "What globalization and free trade are creating is a superhighway for international commerce that is totally asymmetrical, where monopolies rule. On this trade superhighway, a very small elite has buying power, but the rest of the people are nothing more than window-shoppers" (9). I knew that on my trip to the 'global south' I would be seeing the effects of this steam-rolling trade superhighway. When I was in Nicaragua I did see a lot of poverty, disparity, and injustice. These things motivate me to work for something that is better for all, but it was the people that I met along this trip that motivated me the most. It was their example of hope, community, and commitment to social change that renewed my spirit and made my own calling ring resonantly in my ears.

When Hurricane Mitch hit in late October-early November 1998, the Alemán government dragged its feet in dealing with the devastation. When Alemán refused to address the problem seriously, an ecumenical movement was galvanized and united to deal with the disaster, but the movement did not stop there. The main problem was not mother nature, but "how totally impoverished Nicaragua had become over the last decade" (Wheaton 93). "Unjust class conditions and neoliberalism's extreme poverty" were the culprits (Wheaton 93). The ecumenical movement addressed these problems in a document called "Building Together A New Nicaragua" which states:

We propose to work together with churches, movements, and coalitions that contribute to proposals of reform in the international economic system and we urge the Latin American Parliament, United States Congress, the Economic Community of Europe and Japan to examine this System and correct all policies which disfavor the economies and formulate proposals that empower the development of the countries of the South. (Wheaton 93)

The Nicaraguan churches chose to make a progressive and enlightened response to what Hurricane Mitch revealed to them. I found that the majority of the church leaders we met in Nicaragua still advocated a progressive and empowering alter call for Nicaraguans.

Our first full day in Nicaragua was full of church services. We attended a Moravian service in the morning and a Catholic mass in the evening. At both places, our group was very warmly and sincerely welcomed. Both of the churches seemed to be advocating an empowering message of faith and community. In addition, both pastors spoke of and chose to celebrate International Women's Day (which was the next day.) In my journal I wrote:

It's so encouraging to see so much attention paid to International Women's day. I've never celebrated it before or even known that it existed. In the States, you never hear about it. It was celebrated at both of the church services today, the Moravian and the Catholic, and we sung songs of the mujer for both of them. I also saw banners for International Women's Day all over Managua. Why don't we celebrate it back home? (4).

Both of these churches and the people we met there (as well as other people we met later on the trip) were so different than my own experience with organized religion. For them, it didn't seem like faith was just a personal matter accompanied by the occasion pangs of guilt. Faith seemed so much more active, empowering, and community-focused. This kind of empowered community lifted my spirit and will hopefully serve as an example for me for future groups that I join.

One of the most refreshing experiences I had along the trip was meeting the "New Dawn" women's cooperative in Miraflor. The women and men of the community we stayed with had suffered a great deal during the contra war, but they face each new dawn with a resolute optimism. Just being in their presence was inspiring to me for I could feel all their positive energy. In my journal I wrote:

Miraflor is such a wonderful place. The people here are so positive AND they are into organic farming! To see an organic farm in the rural countryside of Nicaragua of all places made me so happy. Marlon explained the processes they use in their organic farming. It is such a holistic and wonderful process. It just goes to show you that you should trust Mother Nature. She knows what's best! Miraflor is such a perfect community. The people here really understand the true meaning of community-it's so refreshing! Not to idealize Miraflor too much-I am sure the honeymoon would wear off after a couple days when we had to actually use the bucket showers. But still, it was the people and their attitude on life that was rejuvenating and encouraging for me..and the stars. Ah, me! (6-7)

It is so easy to get frustrated as an activist here in the States, but Miraflor renewed my spirit and made me remember that I do have a calling, to strive with others for a better future. It made me remember that change is possible and you are only as free as you choose to be. Life can deal you any kind of hand it wants to, but, ultimately, you are the one who determines the quality of your living.

Our visit with Witness for Peace was another important experience for me. According to their website, Witness for Peace:

is a politically independent, grassroots organization. We are people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. Our mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing US policies and corporate practices which contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean. We stand with people who seek justice. (http://www.witnessforpeace.org/)

Jared, a Witness for Peace representative in Nicaragua, joined us for dinner one night to explain the work of Witness for Peace and his own experiences. I was really impressed with the Witness for Peace organization because it seems like they do really responsible and valuable work. The organization was originally started during the Contra war in the eighties, bringing people from the States down as a witness in Nicaragua to prevent tragedies from happening. When the Contra war ended, those in Witness for Peace decided that, though there was no ostensible war being waged in Nicaragua, there was still a covert economic war of neoliberal policies encouraged by the United States. "We need to globalize more than just corporate business interests," Jared said (Olson 9). I couldn't agree more. The globalization of corporate business interests is something that greatly concerns me, especially in terms of its effects on labor and the environment. I am glad that I found out about Witness for Peace. It seems like an awesome organization. Meeting Jared also helped give me more faith on people from the States: there are good people out there doing really good work, you just have to look for them.

Overall, my experiences in Nicaragua were challenging for me in many ways. The most important challenge they presented to me was to be more conscious about actively pursuing my vocation. As the end of my undergraduate career is rapidly approaching, I am forced to think about life in a brand new context, outside of these ivory towers. I am excited for this transition, but I want to make sure that I keep close all that is dear to me in these first trying years of my professional dance career. I know it is so easy to get distracted and consumed by so many things in life, but I think my trip to Nicaragua will serve to remind me that I am an activist at heart. No matter where I move and how much I am dancing, I need to make sure that I am still working for peace and social justice. I know I will find a way. It is my calling.

Works Cited

Center for Global Education (Augsburg College). "Education for Life."

Gorostiaga, Xabier. "World has become a 'champagne glass'- globalization will fill it

fuller for wealthy few." National Catholic Reporter. Jan 27, 1995 v31 n13 p9

Olson, Sarah. Personal Journal. March 6-14, 2004.

Wheaton, Philip. "Hurricane Mitch: Its Chaos, Hope, and Systemic X-Ray."

Witness for Peace. http://www.witnessforpeace.org/

Jesse Levknecht, Teaching in India ~ Read Story

Teaching in India

My travels, both abroad and through life, have clearly had an influence on the person I am and what I want to do with my life. Discovering that I want to work for the future was easy. Finding the way in which I am going to do that and further contribute to society has been the hard part. For the time being, I plan on teaching history. Something has always fascinated me about history and a large part of that lies in my interest in the ways that culture and religion have developed through the ages. In fact, it is my belief that religion is inescapably linked with history; so much so that I wanted to look at this connection on a first hand basis. Looking for a long history, a rich culture and a strong religious heritage, I headed for India.

India boasts of a 4,000 year long history, is currently the largest democracy in the world and proudly proclaims a motto of 'unity in diversity.' Indian culture is deeply entrenched in religions and permeates many aspects of everyday life. India is now searching for ways to preserve this culture and at the same time, move into the developed world. At times the growing pains have been difficult; however, a largely pervading element of this society and culture is the value of education. It is truly seen as a way to improve oneself and one's standing. For me, it was uplifting to be in a country where every person, no matter their status, will try to finance their children's education. This was the atmosphere I entered in India and it would profoundly affect my understanding of the country.

Dr. Ramanathan of Butler University's College of Education had worked to set up relations with several schools with the intention of comparing how each teaches different aspects of religion. I was in one Hindu school, one Muslin school and one Christian school over the period of three weeks. In order to gather data in the schools, I spent time talking with teachers, observing and taking pictures of classes and touring the compounds. What I found was schools and teachers that spoke of the positives of their school's respective religious affiliation but not at the expense of other religions. None of the schools taught conversion or forced the students to convert to the religion of the school. Although the schools did not go out of their way to teach about other religions, when the subject came up in class it was almost never discussed in a demeaning way. In a country where the religions are so varied, it is surely important to the future of the country to teach understanding and compassion of other religions. Although these schools did not address it directly, when the time arose the teachers were moderately prepared to be able to explain concepts of religion the students may not know.

Overall, it was a wonderful place to be and I will take everything that I learned at Butler University and add it to my experiences which support my life goals. Knowing this, I hope to obtain my master's degree in Comparative and International Education. Based on my research I think that it is vitally important to include comparative religions in the requirements for aspiring teachers. Using history in India as a model, it is my belief that religion is too closely linked to ALL subjects to ignore it. As our teachers educate the next generation, it is vital that they teach understanding and compassion when religion comes up in class. I believe that in order to do this, teachers need to be better prepared to address the diversity of peoples and religions in American schools. Jean Jacques Rousseau said, "We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish, we need reason. All that we lack at birth, all that we need when we come to man's estate, is the gift of education." As a world planning for the future, why don't we all work together towards understanding to make the gift of education the best present that anyone could ever receive?

Molly Hunteman, United Methodist Church intern ~ Read Story

Summer Internship ~ August 23, 2004

Working in communications of the United Methodist Church this summer taught me so much that you just don't learn in the pews of the church. While the connection does bring politicking and some corruption that is more visible to me now, learning more about what has been a support system for me and my faith has been a great opportunity. This summer has been much more than just learning about the church though. It's been a great chance to try out an area to better discern my future vocation.

For the past couple of years, my sense of vocation has been fairly unclear. I know that I want to somehow combine my faith and religious knowledge with English since those are two areas that I am passionate about. While the exact path still is unknown, the possibilities have become clearer. The most obvious work within the church is that of the clergy, but only considering the obvious kept many doors shut. After spending the summer in some of that overlooked work, I can now see just how limitless those possibilities are.

My last two years of high school had me working in journalism as a member and then editor for our school paper. I enjoyed the people on staff and some of the writing, but journalistic style writing isn't my favorite. While working in it again this summer, I was reminded that this is probably not what I want to do with the rest of my life. I enjoy reading some of it and appreciate those who do it, but to me, the style can be fairly restricting. Although I can do it, I don't see communications as my calling.

Every once in a while I become bogged down with what exact path I'm supposed to take in my future. I still have yet to find the answer, but I've come to realize that I don't have to. Dan has been a teacher, a pastor, and now is working in communications. As we move through life, things change. As soon as I figure out what it is that I want to do with my life so that I can have a nice packaged answer, I might be led to do something else. Right now I'm working towards a degree in areas that I love while learning more about the options that are out there. God opened the door for me to get this internship this summer as he opened the door for the internship that I had the summer before. Things always seem to fall into place when I trust in His plan instead of making my own. My calling right now is to be a student, absorbing all that I can along the way, so I'm going to do that to the best of my ability.

In the process of being a student, I have had opportunities like this internship to shed some light on where I need to be heading. As long as I work on being a dedicated student, not afraid to take chances, I know that through God's will I will find a great next step for me. Religious communications isn't exactly something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life, but like Dan said on my last day, writing for the church could end up as a starting place while doing my own writing on the side. It's a possibility, and I'll keep learning more about the next step in my life as I go.

Kelly Ognibene, intern at the Indiana Information Center Against Capital Punishment ~ Read Story

Class of 2005

Last spring I was searching high and low for employment for my senior year at Butler. Then I happened to come by an on-line posting for an intern position with the Indiana Information Center for Abolishing Capital Punishment. It sounded like a great opportunity. I could get involved with an issue that I had a lot of interest in and get paid to do so. I did not realize at the time exactly how useful and important my experience would be. My time with the IICACP and the Center for Faith and Vocation proved to be far more instrumental in helping me to find/understand my calling then I would have ever imagined. Throughout my college career I was always sure that I wanted to enter into the legal profession. But what remained unclear until recently was the specific area of law in which I belonged. My internship experience opened my eyes to a clearer picture of just what exactly my calling is.

When I began interning for the IICACP, the organization's internship program was very new. There was a lot of uncertainty in regards to what the intern should and should not take on. This at first was nerve-racking for me because I often felt unsure of what exactly I was supposed to be doing. However, the situation taught me a very valuable lesson in communication and about what questions need to be asked and of whom. As time went on, I became much more confident and assertive. I was able to set some concrete parameters around what the intern's duties entail.

During my time with the IICACP, I learned many other valuable lessons, as well. I encountered dedicated, hard-working individuals who were giving their all for a cause while expecting nothing for in return. These people and their zealousness amazed me. Before meeting them, I spent much time on my own researching capital punishment. What I learned about our justice system was extraordinarily disturbing. Upon completing this general research, the brunt of my work was spent doing grant research and working on finding funding for the organization.

As my time with the IICACP came to an end, I worked on an analysis of a study by the American Civil Liberties Union on the attitudes toward the death penalty and what this means for educational organizations like the IICACP. Examining this study and learning about the opinions and attitudes that the majority of citizens have in this country in favor of the death penalty disheartens me. All of my experiences with the IICACP, though at times frustrating, showed me just how important it is to stand up for what you believe in and fight for a cause. Otherwise, nothing will change.

The other significant factor of this internship that helped me to recognize and understand my calling was the time I spent with Center for Faith and Vocation director, Judith Cebula. Meeting her when I did in my life has shown me that people really do come into our lives for a reason. Her guidance and support uncovered why I have the values I do, where they come from and how these values have shaped me into the person I am and will become. She shed new light and understanding on spirituality, and what having faith means for me. These are things I have grappled with and Judith inspired me to face them head on and do some real soul-searching to better understanding my own morality and place in this world.

After my time with Judith and the IICACP I am not only more in tune with my calling, but I also have a sense of how to answer the call. I am more aware of both how and why I want to help the people that I do. My last semester in college has brought uncertainty, uncertainty that is often terrifying. I am not exactly sure what my future holds, or where my career will take me, but I do know that whatever my future entails, it will be based upon my foundation of values and concerns that my internship helped me discover. Working with the IICACP and Judith at the Center for Faith and Vocation were vital experiences in my journey toward "answering the call."

Maria Jusseaume, received funding from the center for a medical mission trip to Honduras ~ Read Story

COPHS ~ Fifth-year senior ~ Physician Assistant Program

I had the privilege of participating in an eight-day medical mission trip to Honduras through Immaculate Heart of Mary church in Indianapolis this February. Prior to leaving for this trip, I was unsure of what exactly my role would be, what I would gain from it and even what my own expectations were. Once arriving, I began looking for the answer to, why did I have such a strong desire to participate in this trip? Why had everything fallen into place to make this trip possible? Lastly, why did I feel called to be here and what did I have to offer this team?

Currently, I am a senior Physician Assistant (PA) and Spanish major. Despite this seemingly perfect fit for the trip, I felt completely unprepared to exploit these skills. I was afraid that my experience with both would be inadequate to be of value to anyone. The night before our first medical brigade, I overheard the group leader at another dinner table say that I was one of the translators for the brigade the next day. I felt overwhelmed by being given a real responsibility. In retrospect, it made sense to give me this role considering my education in the two areas, but that didn't make me feel ready. That night, as I faced my fear of being inadequate for the job, I decided that I needed to overcome my anxiety, offer what I could to the team, and give the rest to God. Only He knew why I was there and what I could offer. I asked for His assistance and that I would be able to help others. That's why I was there, right? My fear subsided when I took the focus off myself. I felt calm the next morning, knowing that I wasn't in control and I was as prepared as I was going to be.

What took place the next day was an experience I will never forget. As a team of five, we treated 469 patients the first day. Once things started, it moved so quickly there was no time for self-doubt. To my surprise, I was adequate, I was prepared, and I was translating. As I became more comfortable, I was translating less and having conversations with patients about their health more. My PA training emerged and it turned into us talking about their problems and then me summarizing for the PA I was working with. She would add any comments or questions and give me any advice or explanation she wanted translated to them. By the end of the day, I would look at her and say, "I already told them all that, they are ready to go."

What made the greatest impact on me was the demeanor of the people we helped. Often we were just giving them vitamins, some Tylenol for pain and maybe some Tums for their acid reflux, but from their reactions you would think we were giving them treasures. Even the ones we could do almost nothing for would look at us with a smile and say, "Thank you and God bless you." There was nothing but appreciation and hope in them. They didn't complain about having waited in line since dawn, or walking for 4 hours with their 5 children, or the fact that we were only giving them enough medicine for a month. They said thank you, with a smile. Most remarkable was a woman we treated for a skin problem. I told her, "The medicine we are giving you will help your problem, but you will need to return to the clinic because it does not cure it." She said, "No, God does." I was speechless and told her she was right. In her, I found why I was there. It was not only about what I could do for these people, but what I had to learn from them. It is in simplicity and humility that faith is found.

At the end of the week, I left with a deep love in my heart for these people who seemed to have only kindness and appreciation for us. A part of me felt overwhelmed by how much need there is and how much work is to be done in this country. However, I was reminded of a story I once heard. A woman was walking down the streets of New York in the winter and saw a homeless child shivering in a doorway. She angrily said to God, "How can you allow this? Why don't you do something?" And she heard, "I did. I created you." Individually it is hard to see what a difference one person can make, but I was not alone. I was with 22 other people who had love for these people and a desire to make their lives better. I plan to return to Central America and do service. Not only was there the wonderful feeling of helping others, but also this trip helped me to face my fear of inadequacy and being unprepared and to realize that I do have something to offer. My individual contribution can make a big difference. But most importantly, I realized that I am not ever alone in my efforts. By asking for God's assistance, I become much more than one small person trying to help.

Michael Fryman, intern with Indianapolis Center for Congregations, class of 2006 ~ Read Story

ICC Intern ~ May 2005 ~ Indianapolis Center for Congregations

What did I know about the Indianapolis Center for Congregations before I started working here? Not much, to be quite honest. In fact, the first time I'd heard about the center was through my internship advisor, Judy Cebula, the director of the Center for Faith & Vocation. I am very thankful for Judy because I quickly discovered that center was a great place for me to explore new areas within the field of working with ministries for my future vocation. The center was founded in 1997 to help strengthen congregations in the central Indiana metropolitan area. The Center for Congregations is affiliated with the Alban Institute, a research, publishing, education, and consulting organization based in Bethesda, Maryland that provides resources for congregations nationwide. It's a gift to the greater Indianapolis area from Lilly Endowment Inc. Once I realized how many congregations there were in the greater Indianapolis area, I was amazed at the number of those that the center worked with (almost 49% of about 2100 congregations).

When I came to the ICC, my job included working with the information database, upgrading the information the center had so that our contacts would stay up-to-date with the programs and activities we had available. The two individuals I worked under were Brent Bill, Executive Vice President of ICC, and Catharine Green, the Database Executive. I mainly worked with Catharine for my time at the center and reported to her whenever thing became confusing and I seemed to be lost.

Along with working on the database system in the afternoons, I attended the weekly staff meetings on Tuesday mornings where the staff members would discuss individual cases and the programs that were going on across the board. I learned that this group of people took on projects cohesively as a group and assisted each other in just about every case managed. At the staff meetings, if additional help was required for finding resources or information, the entire staff would lend a helping hand.

I believe that on top of the time I worked on the information database, I learned so much more through the collective work and smaller projects that needed to be taken care of while I was there at the center. Some of the smaller things I was able to help out in were doing a couple "intern"-type things, such as updating the library, putting Bible studies together, and doing odds and ends around the office to make sure things ran smoothly when an extra hand was needed. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the center this semester though, and am grateful for the opportunity to work in such a caring, hard-working, and ministerial environment.

Sarvinoz (Sarah) Shamsutdinova, exchange student from Uzbekistan, class of 2007 and intern with Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc. ~ Read Story

Finding a Sense of Purpose ~ May 2005

I had the honor to participate in the Eurasian Undergraduate Program (UGRAD) whose mission consists of "fostering democratization and economic development in Eurasia by promoting young leaders" from a number of countries including my home country-Uzbekistan. By means of this all-encompassing program I was exposed to a wide- range of priceless experiences in a foreign country. Specifically, I would be attending Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States. But one of my most unforgettable experiences was acquired through the internship that I had to secure as a part of my program requirements. Working for Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc. taught me valuable skills and helped develop my perspectives about America and its people and my own purpose in life.

I started my search for an internship and I ended up discussing the possibilities of one with Judith Cebula, director of Faith and Vocation Center at Butler. From the first day of my acquaintance with this benevolent person I knew that this was the right place to be if I wanted to find a really good job. Specifically, with her direct involvement fate brought me to the organization called Exodus. After familiarizing myself with the activity of this organization online, I couldn't even dream of a better internship related to my major. The first thing that caught my attention in the web site was a short, but very meaningful quote from the Bible that went as follows: "I was a stranger, and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35). At that instant I did not realize that the work at Exodus would not only help me grow professionally, but it would also develop my inner world, revealing my strengths as a person who is ready to make a change.

I prepared extensively for the interview, as it was extremely important for me to secure this internship. My confidence grew considerably when Sylvia Robles, a staff member, let me know in an e-mail that this year Exodus was expecting to resettle Meskhetian Turks from Russia who originally lived in Uzbekistan. Given that I was familiar with this refugee group firsthand and I had spoken their language since childhood (Russian was one of the three languages that I grew up with), I and people at Exodus believed I would be a good match for the position.

On the following morning, I headed to the Northwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Exodus Headquarters, for the interview. It was not the interview that bothered me this time; it was all about the church. On my way to church I was asking myself, "Why is Exodus located in a church in the first place?" For me it was difficult to imagine a non-profit organization located in a mosque in my country. However, from my first day on I was comfortable in that environment.

As I worked at Exodus I did not even feel that I had clear-cut responsibilities, because I performed all kinds of jobs: translating during various orientations, taking refugees to different appointments and getting Social Security numbers and other documentations, updating case notes, answering phone calls, filing documents, translating manuals, etc. I even became familiar with immigration laws and international immigration policies. It was exactly this nature of my internship that most appealed to me-I had the most thorough combination of various experiences one can possibly ever gain from doing an internship. Probably the most interesting part of the job was interpersonal interaction with separate families and their sponsors, who were recruited from different churches. These sponsors helped the refugees in many ways: drove them to appointments, paid housing expenses, furnished apartments, and in general offered an exceptional support. Initially, I thought these people were employed and got paid, like the Exodus staff, for their help. But I was wrong-they were volunteers.

Once, Shaira, a young mother, suddenly asked me why the sponsors were so generous towards them. I addressed the question to Karen, a caseworker. Not even thinking it over, Karen answered right away, "Because they believe in helping." It was then that I figured out that the assistance the sponsors were providing the families with was absolutely unconditional-out of generosity. Being a Muslim person, but not necessarily practicing my religion, I knew that even in the Koran, the holy book of Islam, helping those in need is mandatory-it is one of the duties of Muslim people. I was also aware of the fact that almost all religions in the world, including Christianity, highly emphasize charity.

However, my former perception of America and the people living here did not coincide with the reality that I was now witnessing. Before, I held that Americans are always there where there is some kind of personal benefit, or at least the promise of it. Now, deep inside me, the conviction of the capitalistic nature of Americans and their unconditional generosity were in conflict.

My belief that Americans are very materialistic was mainly shaped by the American movies I watched back home. American cinema presented me with a stereotypical image of a money-obsessed culture. Well, one may argue that even those Hollywood celebrities do make donations and organize different charity foundations. But aren't those contributions tax-deductible and beneficial for the fortune-earners involved in show business?

As usual, I looked for the answers at the Center for Faith and Vocation. Again, it was with Judith that I discussed the clashes of ideals. She admitted that there are some people who do help others out of good intentions, asking nothing in return, but there are also those who look for some kind of benefit. When I thought about it, I realized at Exodus the benefit could be converting people of other religions to Christianity. But Judith assured me that there is great religious diversity in the United States and that some Christians do help others in an effort to convert them. But other Christians, (and Jews and people of other religions, as well), help refugees and other people in need because their faith compels them to do it, not because they want to convert others. I noticed that after each conversation with Judith I would reflect on my spiritual part, my destiny and special place that I have in the world, as each of us come to this world for a reason. Judith's words predisposed me to look at myself from a different prospective, and taught me to value what I have at the moment and stick up for my values.

On the basis of my time spent at Exodus, I learned how to value the fact that I have my native land, peace and shelter, and of course the people who do care for me no matter what. Indeed, much of these things the refugees are deprived of; but even this life full of losses and trauma still leaves some room for hope. Now that the Meskhetian Turks are gradually acquiring the things they have never had the hope for a brighter and more promising future grant them with strength. And America is the reason for such faith, as Zamira, a mother of 3 has put it, "All the memories of my troubled past that me and my family had been facing for those long 15 years, vanished on the day that I knew I was coming to America." My year in the United States and my internship allowed me to become part of that promise.

Andrea Berger, intern at North United Methodist Church ~ Read Story

Internship at North United Methodist Church ~ Spring 2006

This past semester spent at North United Methodist Church has been a thrilling experience and a blessing in disguise. Although I have always been extremely active in the church growing up, I was almost certain that I never actually wanted to work in a church, and thus was looking for a faith-based internship not at a church. However, when the opportunity at North arose, it certainly peaked my interests.

I have gained a greater understanding of myself during this great journey called "college." There is one time during everyone's life that one has to be self-absorbed in order to figure oneself out, and that time has been during college for me. A piece of knowledge that I have gained through this process is that I have a passion for working with people and want to work in a setting in which I can help others. Doing volunteer and outreach work was something I had always enjoyed as a child, but never considered it as a career, partly because I wasn't aware that I could form this enjoyment into an occupation. Interning at North UMC has brought this passion of mine out more vibrantly than I would have guessed. The highlights of my week are many, and all include time spent talking to community people either in the soup-kitchen setting on Tuesdays and Thursdays or during the emergency assistance program on Wednesday mornings. I enjoy serving the people and helping out, but what delights me more is when I am able to sit at the tables with those eating there and simply see what is going on in their lives - what their concerns are, and what joys they have in their lives right now. Further, it has been amazing to see the incredible faith that some of these people who have next to nothing possess. Although I am still no where near understanding what I truly want to do with my life, something that I may not figure out for decades to come, I think this internship has brought me one step closer. I now know how much I love to work with people and what a great reward this can be.

The blessing in disguise that I have received through my internship has been the gift of a wonderfully warm church home that I am pleased to attend every Sunday. Since my arrival at Butler, I have frequented dozens of churches in Indianapolis, all of which have left me feeling as though there was something missing. I had been "church hopping" on a Sunday to Sunday basis without much satisfaction. North has become this church family that I had been in search of for years. My internship has allowed me to familiarize with all of the pastors on a level that I haven't experienced with other churches, including the one I grew up in. Further, and maybe more importantly, I have gained some wonderful relationships with many of the lay people involved at the church, who have really shown me the heart of North and what this mission is all about.

My benefits from North have been two-fold. It has been such a tremendous experience that has provided me with a stronger foundation in which to build a career and a clearer direction of what that career may become. North has further developed into more than simply an internship, but also a welcoming church home that I had been searching for ever since I came to Butler.

Melissa Sauer, intern with Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence and the Indiana Partnership to Prevent Violent Injury and Death ~ Read Story

Butler Class of 2007

Intern with : Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence and the Indiana Partnership to Prevent Violent Injury and Death

What should I do with my life? That is a question that many people, including myself, have struggled with and continue to struggle with. I have even read the book entitled "What Should I do With My Life?" I still don't know the answer to that question. However, I have had many experiences that have shaped who I am today, what my values are, and what I'll eventually decide I want to do with my life.

One of these invaluable experiences was my internship this past Spring 2006 semester. I interned with two non-profit organizations simultaneously: Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence and the Indiana Partnership to Prevent Violent Injury and Death. I learned of this opportunity through Jennifer Brockway, Butler's Liberal Arts Program Coordinator in the fall of 2005. The job description posted on-line was somewhat vague, but even in its ambiguity it sounded like something that I would be very interested in. Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence was looking for someone to help with membership development and education initiatives, and for someone interested in social issues. I thought to myself, "Well, I'm a Hoosier. And I'm concerned about social issues, like gun violence!" I decided to apply.

I worked in the Partnership's office every week. By simply being there and paying attention to what was going on around me, I realized the hard work and sometimes frustration that goes into working for a non-profit organization. The three women I worked with were constantly looking for opportunities for funding, and grant-writing was a big part of working there. If they didn't find someone to fund them, they would no longer be in existence. This caused an obvious added stress to the job, but it also made me realize just how dedicated these women were to their jobs. They were so passionate about reducing firearm violence in Indiana, and this in turn caused me to prioritize and to evaluate what is really important to me.

I had been thinking throughout the semester about what things in life I valued, and my final project at my internship was to write a position paper on a topic of my choosing. After much consideration, I chose to write about a new law, House Bill 1028, that will go into effect in Indiana on July 1st, 2006. Basically, the law removes the duty to retreat from perceived threatening situations in places where the "victim" has a right to be. I knew that I disagreed with this law, but I didn't really know why.

After looking quite introspectively at myself, I realized that I think that laws like House Bill 1028 perpetuate an already deeply-engrained culture of violence in our society. I realized that I highly value peaceful conflict resolution and forgiveness, which is probably why I am so opposed to this law. I also realized that our lawmakers and other people who govern our society aren't perfect, and that we should think critically about what they tell us we can or can't do. I may not have realized exactly what I want to do with my life, but my internship forced me to think about what my ideals and morals are, which I know will lay the groundwork for figuring out what it is I "should do with my life."

Dustin Smith, On Meditating at the Blue House ~ Read Story

On Meditating at the Blue House

Walking into the Butler Center for Faith and Vocation (CFV), affectionately nick-named the Blue House by those who frequent it, I am welcomed by Marguerite Stanciu, one of the kind-hearted and open staff members. I sit on one of the couches in the living room-like room awaiting her to finish a phone call. She comes out and offers me something to drink. Normally thirsty, I follow her into the kitchen where tea, juice, and water are offered to anyone along with a vast variety of snacks. We talk about events at the CFV. We talk about all of the not-so-exciting events happening in my life. She listens while we wait on a friend before we begin our meditation.

When fellow Butler student Ben Leslie arrives, we head up the stairs to the Contemplation Room where we do our Shambhala meditation. In the same room the Butler Catholic Community will holds mid-week Mass, and Muslim students pray, there, as well. Amazed at the diversity one room can hold, I take off my shoes and enter the Contemplation Room with Marguerite and Ben, the three of us ready for an intense session of meditation.

After twenty minutes of meditation that usually goes by too fast for me, we share in the quite energy that lingers in the room after our session. Then we put on our shoes and head down the stairs back to the living room. And Marguerite tells us about an exciting event she is planning.

As a program coordinator for the CFV, Marguerite spends a lot of time coordinating programs for the Blue House. But as a practitioner of Shambhala and Tibetan paths, she feels that a Buddhist culture could in fact, help many students in their daily lives.

Shambhala is not focused on any one religion. Although many practicing Buddhists incorporate it into their mediation practices, including Marguerite, it remains entirely secular, able to be integrated into any religious or spiritual practice. It simply invites anyone interested to calm his or her mind and learn to appreciate the world we live in. Believing quite strongly in this practice, Marguerite has taken it upon herself to present a great opportunity for anyone in the Indianapolis area, including Butler students.

She is planning the first Shambhala meditation program for Indiana. Not affiliated with Butler or the Blue House, Marguerite has organized this event in cooperation with Arel Good who owns Open Heart Quiet Mind in Indy. A studio that acts as a quiet place for spiritual growth, Marguerite believes this will be the perfect place to hold "Learn to Meditate." It will take place on Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. She invites Butler students who are curious about meditation and the benefits it can offer in conjunction with any religious or spiritual path to sign up. Her e-mail is mstanciu@butler.edu.

After hearing this news, Ben and I cannot hold our excitement. An entire day of meditation, where homework, relationships, and life in general take a back seat to a search for center sounds incredibly appealing and probably greatly needed. For now, we have to leave the Blue House. Ben has class. I have to get to my job. But we keep our excitement and spread the word about this incredible event. Hopefully we can ignite interest in the rest of the student body.