It is hard to imagine that our week-long service–learning trip is coming to a close. I’m not sure that I am exactly ready for it to end.

Our day began with another savory breakfast—egg and potato casserole, pan dulce, BOING juice, chipotle peppers in sauce, and sliced oranges, red grapefruit, and papaya. For our learning session, Pastor Kim spoke about justice movement and its four aspects: cancellation of the debt of the poorest of the poor nations, labor rights, restoration of the land to the people, and peacemaking. After a series of twelve ways to participate in the justice movement back home, we checked out various websites we could visit to learn more.

A difficult reality of a trip such as this is the transition “back home”. What can we do as we continue to learn about these issues? How can we tell the story? What does it matter that we have spent these days together? We began a brainstorming session capturing our ideas about making a difference. We dreamed about CLU tee shirts being purchased from sweat free shops, about a campaign to have only fair trade coffee served through Sodexho, and about organizing a carpool down to the local farmer’s market.

In the end we decided to host a learning event in April to share our experiences. We might call it a no-ignorance fair. We formed teams to organize what we will share related to free trade and NAFTA, the cooperatives, the Other Campaign, the Jubilee and ONE campaign, and the School of the Americas. The first step is to have a planning meeting once we return home. It took over five minutes to find a time to meet as these students are very busy! It feels satisfying to leave with an action plan in addition to a vibrant group to work among.

Our closing celebration was a time of affirmation and hope. We gathered up all the strips of paper upon which we had written our memories or troubling aspects of the week and placed them in a basket. Each of us pulled out a few strips to pray and think about that concern. It was hard to read these comments without getting tears in my eyes.

We followed that with a “touch someone who” affirmation experience. There are so many ways that each of us have affected someone on the trip just by being ourselves and loving our neighbor. Pastor Kim and Abril commissioned us and sent us out from Mexico by putting a ceramic cross around our necks made by people in one of the villages of Guerrero. And then it was piñata time! ¡Arriba!

– Melissa Maxwell Doherty