Category: Service Work

Taking a Stand

Taking a Stand

With Loyola being a Jesuit university, a quote from Saint Ignatius everyone hears at their graduation is “Go forth and set the world on fire”. However, that fight for making the world a better place and really “setting it on fire” can start well before students graduate from the university. Not only pushing students academically, but socially, Loyola tries to ensure that its students stand up against injustices that are unfair for people of all backgrounds. Besides students holding protests fighting for their beliefs, occasionally Loyola also gets involved in the fight for social and racial equality and supports certain social justice movements, as well as environmental movements..

The most recent stance that Loyola has taken with its students is the fight for undocumented workers and students, in light of recent events including the deportation and ban of undocumented immigrants in America, and with recent talks of a stronger border wall, a mock wall that Loyola has set up with chain link fence is run by students, who are volunteering to educate, as well as serving as members for conversation.

One major thing here at Loyola is how students of the university can make a proposition, and take a stand for injustices they see in the world. A couple years ago, students made the stand to have a biodeisel lab for our shuttles that run to and from our Lake Shore and our Water Tower campuses, and everyone working the lab are all students. We are the only university that is licensed to sell our biodeisel to other universities.

So even if you want to make a difference in the world, and have an idea but don’t know how to put it into action, it’s still possible to get involved and help “set the world on fire” in your time here at Loyola.

Taken from Bishop Canevin High School
ABI: Joppa Farm

ABI: Joppa Farm

One, we are the ramblers…Two, we love Loyola… Three, we wanna scream for more more more more!


I am back to Chicago after an amazing week at Joppa Farm, Tennessee. Let me tell you, it was not easy adjusting at first because we had no concept of time, and that was something I am not used to. We also didn’t have access to our cell phones, so no way of connecting with friends and family and checking our daily emails about mid-term grades. Another interesting experience was that we only had two showers a week! This one was the hardest but I made it through. In addition to our Loyola group at the farm, there were also groups of students from Saint Xavier University and University of Notre Dame.
During our time on the farm, we volunteered at a nursing home, a school, and did construction at people’s homes. We were privileged to meet awesome human beings with great welcoming hearts. We built a porch for one family, painted the porch and the roof and fixed a floor for another, and we used mortar to will help bind the bricks and concrete masonry units together by filling and sealing the irregular gaps between them in another home. All the families were grateful that we were helping them build a better home. Another awesome thing we did was hike the Great Smoky Mountains. It was incredible! It was a quite a trek but at the end the view from the mountain was amazing, we saw mountains, a small waterfall and nature itself.
Throughout my week at Joppa Farm, Tennessee, I learned about the four different pillars of the ABI: live simply, build community, deepen faith, and do justice. I didn’t care about not having my phone because I was living in the movement with everyone else around me instead of trying to see what my friends were doing back at home. Also, by not knowing time, it was easier for us to not think about what we had to do and worry about other things that were not necessary at the moment. And if anyone asked what we were doing later in the day, the mangers would say, “Don’t anticipate, PARTICIPATE!”. Also, the two showers a week were not bad at all, we were saving water which felt good and we were living simply! We were able to build community by interacting with everyone around us and learning more about their life experiences. We deepened our faith by doing reflections every night and thinking about the consolation and desolation of the day. Also, we prayed before we ate any of our meals and before departure to our sites. We did justice by bringing awareness of rural poverty to others.
This experience was amazing! I got close to my Ramblers friends and staff leaders, I want to thank them for allowing me to be a part of this journey!
Hiking on the Great Smoky Mountains
What Loyola’s Doing Over Spring Break

What Loyola’s Doing Over Spring Break


As usual, I’m going to be honest with you folks – Mexican Beach Parties made of hordes of college kids like you see in movies like 22 Jump Street do happen. Some of my friends who go to other schools around the country are part of groups that flock by the hundreds, and they take up practically the whole plane. To me, that’s a little crazy, going to a school that gives you so much tension and dislike you, for a whole week, party and drink and party some more.

I genuinely enjoy my school, and on breaks I can only think about going back. It’s more than just classes – the college life suits me, and my friends are phenomenal, and I’m passionate about what I’m involved in. And, I think, my peers here at Loyola feel the same. It’s just one week to Spring Break and I haven’t heard a whisper of colossal groups jaunting off to the Coast. I’m sure it happens, of course, but the groups aren’t big enough to be heard through the grapevine outside of those specifically invited – which is fine by me!

Here’s something. The talk of the town are programs Loyola does called ABI, or Alternative Break Immersions. Now, they’re nothing new, but the hype is definitely real every single time. I have friends going to Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, Tennessee – and even sticking around Chicago to volunteer.

ABI trips are very popular because they’re learning, outside of a classroom, that integrates Jesuit values, social justice, and aiding those in need. Though they’re short, they’re transformative, so I’ve heard.


If you want, there are some blogs by those who went on the trips here!

ABI trips are incredibly popular – I’d definitely say that more people go on them than go to Mexico with their friends. (of course, people are still going to Mexico with their families, because who would pass that up? Not me.) People also go home to wherever they came from, be it Seattle, Los Angeles, or Skokie. It’s a week off of school after midterms, so there’ll be a lot of relaxation, working to refill the ol’ piggy bank, and lots of catching up on movies and shows that we’ve been missing because we’ve been studying.

So that’s where we’ll be! If you’re touring campus, sorry to say, you probably won’t see too many students, but you can always come back! Where are you going for your Spring Break?

I hope also that you’ll consider our ABI programs if you end up coming here, because the more the merrier, and here at Loyola we love to make a difference!


Joppa Farm Here I Come!

Joppa Farm Here I Come!


Spring break is only a few days away!!! I am really excited because I will be spending my spring break at Joppa Farm, located in Tennessee. I never have been to Tennessee so this will be a wonderful experience! How did I end up choosing to spend my spring break in Tennessee? Loyola’s Alternative Break Immersion (ABI) program provide opportunities for students to expand their knowledge and be involved in service and cultural immersion within a host community during university breaks. Let me tell you, I did not know about the ABI program or what it was when I first came to Loyola. So, I decided to do more research and asked friends about ABI. I finally found out what an ABI was, it is a program where students would go to a place to learn about a community they are living in and learn about the four different pillars: live simply, build community, deepen faith, and do justice. You can do an ABI during your winter break, spring break and/or summer as well! There are many places you can go such as New York, Oregon, West Virginia, Mexico, El Salvador, Jamaica and many more!
The reason I chose Joppa Farm, Tennessee as my ABI experience is because it is open to only first-year students. I really liked that because I can meet other freshman just like me and get to know them better and build relationships. Also, I decided to do this trip because in their community, there are Latino farm workers and their families and I feel like I can relate to them because I come from a Mexican family. I want them to feel comfortable talking to me in Spanish and having someone that may understand what they are going through.
Now, I just have to pack and get my things together to leave Saturday morning and get ready for a nice 9-hour trip so I will be getting to know my peers very well! I really can’t wait to see how my spring break will be! Once I come back, I’ll tell you all about my spring break trip at Joppa Farm, Tennessee!
Commitment to Service is More Than A Tagline

Commitment to Service is More Than A Tagline

Let me be honest with you: sometimes things are not what they seem.

(A shock, I know.)

Sometimes things are advertised or labelled without actually being true. Sometimes people say or write things that aren’t necessarily accurate in the hopes of catching your interest and hoping you’ll focus on other things instead of their tricks. (I’m looking at you, clickbait article headlines.)

I won’t name names or point fingers at other colleges and universities around the world, but I’ll tell you what I know: Loyola doesn’t do that.

(A shock, I know.)

Loyola really does have a huge commitment to social justice and social issues, commitment to service and cares about the individual. I could write a million blog posts on how Loyola really cares for the student, but I’ll keep myself focused on one particular topic – service.


First off, you might not know, but Loyola has Learning Communities that unite a group of like-minded people, whether it be Leadership, Honors, Research, or – you guessed it – Service & Faith. These people are very involved and are constantly involved in ways they can help.

Second, though (I believe) this is rote for all fraternities and sororities, our chapters are heavily involved in their charities and work tirelessly to go above and beyond to raise money for osteoporosis, the Ronald McDonald House, Make-a-Wish Foundation, and so on. There’s even a service-oriented co-ed fraternity, APO.


Third, clubs and organizations often do more than their focus. Honors Student Association, for example, not only hosts events and programs for Honors Program members but organizes weekly volunteer trips to places like Just Harvest to lend as many hands as they have. The Quidditch team raises money and support in ‘Febru-Harry’ for Relay for Life.

Fourth, Loyola requires every student to take at least one Service Learning class before graduation. This means that the class is tightly intertwined with volunteering and may require a set number of hours per semester at a site or other such actions that mean that the student and class are actively making a difference.

Fifth, Loyola has a program called Loyola 4 Chicago that sets up sites such as Misericordia or Sarah’s Circle and organizes groups of students that go weekly to lend aid. Though it may be nothing more than helping a person with developmental disabilities with their knitting project, they still emphasize the difference the students are making without, perhaps, realizing.


Although Loyola has many, many more ways that show how much both the student body and the administration are committed to service, I’ll leave you with these to think about. Of course you’re totally free to learn more, and if you have any questions I can help too! But trust me when I tell you Loyola really means every word they write on those stacks and stacks and stacks of paper they send in the mail.


LUC Fun Run

LUC Fun Run

Blog Post 45 - Photo 1

Saturday, April 11, marked the fourth annual LUC Fun Run, which aims to establish a campus event that is ad majorem Dei gloriam and generates school pride at Loyola, while simultaneously reminding us that, when we refer to “our neighbors,” the meaning should encompass not just those near to us and like ourselves, but also those across the ocean and around the world. Each year, the Fun Run begins at the Lake Short Campus and follows the Lakefront Trail, all the way to the downtown Water Tower Campus. Participants can choose whatever means of transportation they wish to traverse the 8-mile path, whether it is by running, biking, rollerblading, or skateboarding. Father Garanzini, the president of our university, has been a popular participant. He bikes the path.

In the past, all participant registration fees were designated for donation to Kids Caring 4 Kids, an organization benefiting a school in Kitwe, Zambia. However, this year, in order to encourage school spirit, 75 percent of proceeds have been allocated to go toward Kids Caring 4 Kids, with the remaining 25 percent going to the runner’s charity of choice: American Cancer Society, Circle of Sisterhood, or Agape/Ecclesia.

Together with its partner, Lifesong for Orphans, Kids Caring 4 Kids operates a school for more than 300 orphans and vulnerable children, from kindergarten through high school, encouraging and helping students to pursue higher education. With charitable donations, the school is able to provide for the academic curriculum, additionally providing two nutritious meals each day plus healthcare for all of the children.

This year, I worked at the sign-in table as volunteer and registered participants prior to the race. Unfortunately, I was not able to participate as a runner in this year’s Fun Run, but next spring, I plan to be there for sure, ready to walk, skip and hop those purposeful eight miles, along the beautiful shoreline of the lake, down to the Water Tower Campus where we shall celebrate with a sense of accomplishment for having walked, skateboarded, rollerbladed and biked—in service to others.



Image from:

Our Own Garden in the City

Our Own Garden in the City

Blog Post 43 Photo 1

On Saturday, I volunteered for Loyola’s Urban Agriculture Program at the greenhouse in the Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES). The program promotes developing sustainable local food systems. It aims to educate Loyola students and faculty, supply products for the various local food-related programs and organizations, as well as engage community members in the urban agriculture project.

Though the Greenhouse Lab is not certified organic, it adheres to organic procedures in order to promote a less toxic environment for all living things. While working, preparing and cleaning two boxfuls of harvested lettuce from the aquaponic system, all or which  was to be donated to a local food organization, a couple of us volunteers discussed the difficulty for college students to live by organic and sustainable eating lifestyle. It is more cost friendly for us to buy groceries at Aldi’s rather than Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Accessibility seems to pose one of the most prominent problems with regard to urban agriculture.

In 2014, volunteers, comprised 14 student employees and 300 student volunteers, managed the greenhouse, two aquaponic systems, and three gardens around campus, which are Winthrop Garden, Mertz Terrace Garden, and Quinlan Rooftop Garden. Though the Quinlan garden requires special access, I highly encourage everyone to visit it. Not only does it have an amazing view of the lake, the southern part of campus, and the rest of the neighborhood, it is quiet hideout, great for breaking away from the bustling city. Just a five minute commute will make you feel relaxed in the serenity of Mother Nature at her best.



Image from:

My First ABI Trip

My First ABI Trip

Blog Post 37 - Photo 1


Over spring break, I joined ten students and two graduate student leaders on an Alternative Break Immersion (ABI) trip to small town Mount Vernon, Kentucky. We filled two vans and traveled side by side for eight hours, driving south, past the Mason Dixie line. The program I attended was set up in collaboration with the organization A-SPI, Appalachia – Science in the Public Interest, with the focus on environmental justice and sustainable living.

One of my favorite days was spent cleaning up illegal trash dump sites, working alongside James, the leader of the program, and five inmates from the local prison. We were told that, for every certain number of days they worked, one day would be taken off their time. Getting the chance to work with, and talk to, people on such different paths than my own felt incredibly refreshing yet productive. One of the sites on our itinerary overlooked the highway, with the Appalachian Mountains as its backdrop. It was breathtakingly beautiful, even on that overcast and rather gloomy day. There, as my group collected a seemingly ever-growing hill of roof shingles, we engaged a hilarious conversation with Tim, one of the inmates—everything he said was funny because we didn’t know any of the older music references he was making. He was incredibly patient with us, answering our curious (yet, to him, probably very peculiar) questions, from whether he had tattoos to was he from the area to did he have any children. That encounter, a moment of experiencing the juxtaposition of two very disparate cultures, both urban Chicago and more rural Kentucky, as well as an older generation and a younger generation, coming together and mingling in laid-back conversation, was a definitely a memory worth keeping.

We also learned about “food deserts,” a term referring to situations where residents living in remote counties have very little access to healthy, fresh food, an environment in which, oftentimes, the only store that could be accessed is a nearby gas station. We also learned more about poverty in the area, and I was saddened to know that many families see no more than “a couple thousand dollars” flow through their hands each year.

Another aspect of the A-SPI trip, for us as students, was being immersed in minimalistic simplicity. We tried to “tread lightly,” minimizing water use by taking as few showers as possible. We slept on the ground, had a simple diet, and utilized hardly any technology.

On my 2015 Spring ABI, I was afforded the unique opportunity to visit a small town for the first time in my life. The experience opened my eyes to a different part of America, a sector of society that I had only read about, but really wanted to better understand. Sometimes, it is easy to assume that everyone in the United States lives as we do, but they don’t.

I also truly enjoyed getting to spend an entire week with a group of such funny, sassy individuals from Loyola.

Making the Pope Proud: Panini Distribution at the Vatican

Making the Pope Proud: Panini Distribution at the Vatican

Every Friday night at 8pm in the lobby of the John Felice Rome Center a group of about 20 students meet Student Life Assistant Pedro for panini distribution. We head over to Vatican City and distribute food to the homeless. For the last two weeks I’ve tagged along and have loved participating in this JFRC tradition.

The men who started this distribution have been doing so faithfully for about 50 years. And there’s no doubt in my mind that they enjoy it just as much now as they did when they started.

At 9pm a station wagon pulls up filled to the brim with food and supplies. The food is either leftover from bakeries or made by one of the couples who started the group. Unloading their car and setting up takes no time at all thanks to the help offered from friends, other volunteers, and our group of students. A buffet-style assembly line is set up with all sorts of food for the homeless to take away. As they wait in line, everyone is given a sack lunch (where the actual paninis come in). Then they are offered all sorts of pastas, some vegetables, meat, bags of fruit, a variety of baked goods, and hot drinks. With so much food to offer there is often leftovers which are left near where we set up.

Last Friday I was on pasta scooping duty and this week I helped serve vegetables and meat. I was happy to have a job where I could have a few conversations or when there was a language barrier at least offer smiles.  Everyone I’ve met so far has been kind and always grateful. I’m learning that there are few things as rewarding as making someone’s day better by providing them with something so simple.

After everything has been packed back up into the station wagon, Pedro has our group participate in a reflection. We sit among the columns of the Vatican and Pedro leads us in various forms of Ignation prayer or reflection. Taking the time to think about the significance of what we helped with is a great way to process the experience.

It’s safe to say that feeding the homeless is a good thing to do, but taking a time out and relating that experience to your faith and study abroad experience overall shines a different light on the situation. A light that makes you realize the significance of volunteering your time. And to me has made it all the more worthwhile.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

It is always fantastic to stay active within your community by doing extracurricular activities. They keep your day productive and you get to have many amazing experiences within the club (activities and events) and be able to meet new people.

At Loyola, I am part of two clubs/groups: AMSA (American Medical Student Association) and VASA (Vietnamese American Student Association). Both of the these clubs are fantastic because they define who I am and who I want to be; they help me understand and enjoy the things I love the most. In AMSA, I get to hear speakers from all different types of backgrounds tell their story on how they became a doctor, MCAT test prep representatives help me prepare for the rigorous exam, and ultimately I am able to obtain a better idea of how to be successful in my medical future. In VASA, I learn more about my culture through eating delicious (and FREE!) Vietnamese food, celebrating Viet holidays, and seeing student performances that originate from Vietnam.

Outside of Loyola, I volunteer at my local hospital every other Friday. Starting this summer, I plan to take summer classes at Loyola to ease my workload for the school year. Also, I plan to take cello lessons at a music school as well as apply to volunteer my time at Rush University Medical Center. Although it sounds like a lot, I know that this is my prime time to do this as I currently have the motivation to stay productive and participate in extracurricular things that I truly love to do.