Marketing & Communications  
   

JONAH HOUSE SERVICE LEARNING TRIP: SERVING IN A NEW WAY

 
By: Jacqui DeFouw ‘11
 
Junior Annie Parks has been working closely with Sr. Kathi Sleziak on planning the second annual service learning trip to Jonah House in Washington D.C. to take place over Fall Break.
 
2009 Jonah House Group Parks attended the trip last year and was asked by Sr. Kathi to be a student leader for the trip this year. “It was the perfect fit at the perfect time,” Parks said, “I’m all about social justice.” Parks said the planning process has been relatively easy as well “because Sr. Kathi and I have become really good friends.” Although, Parks added, “interviewing and turning away students was really tough.”

The Jonah House trip is different from most service learning trips because the trip focuses more on social justice than directly serving the community. “For me the trip was almost like a non-violent resistance retreat,” said Parks. She added that the trip is about learning “what you can do with a community of people who want to make a change in the world.”
 
Students who attend this trip will spend one day doing a silent protest and another participating in a peace vigil outside of the White House. The trip is very “indirect action and justice oriented” according to Parks. “I think what [the Jonah House is] doing is amazing. I think more people should know about it,” Parks added.

The Jonah House was featured in the movie “Conviction,” which told about the powerful things the people living in the house are doing to stop everything from nuclear warfare to street crimes. Parks said that in her experience with the members of the Jonah House, they are just as affected by one person as by millions. “They value every form of life,” Parks said.
Peace Vigil
 
Keeping with the theme of caring for all forms of life, students attending this trip will be eating a strictly vegetarian diet. Most of the food comes straight from the community garden. Parks said she and a friend “made an entire dinner that was only stuff produced in that garden” which was an entirely new experience for her.
 
Parks said another unique characteristic of this trip is the ecumenical service held on Sunday. They call the practice “House Church.” Basically someone will read a scripture to the group and then anyone can chime in to talk about how the scripture affected them or if they had a situation similar to it in their own life.
 
Parks is encouraging other students to attend in hopes that the trip will change their lives as it has hers. “I came back from Jonah House - my world had been rocked,” she said, “I guess it really moved me and changed me.” She is looking forward to going on the trip again too. “I am looking forward to seeing the women who live at the house,” she said, “they’ve made such a big difference in my life.”
 
“Jonah House gave me the tools to find out my passion and to incorporate that passion into my everyday life,” Parks said. She is hoping this year’s trip will do the same for the students that are participating in this unique and unforgettable trip in 2010.