The York Road Experience
This week, I attended a service event called the ‘York Road Initiative’. This analysis will relate that service event to Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, “Formula”, by Langston Hughes, and “Old Walt”, by Langston Hughes. The service event that I attended does not necessarily relate well to the readings mentioned above, but the service event relates strongly to Jesuit education. Each one of these stories touched me in a different way, and made me think back to different experiences in my life that relate to the Jesuit education. Family, pain and repetition are the general themes of the stories and poems mentioned above.
In Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, one of the major themes that I got out of the first half of the story was family. Victor, the main character, sets the stage early and describes his family. His mother, Caroline, later passes away from disease and Victor loses touch with his family. Victor becomes so ingrained in his studies, that he forgets the people that love him back at home. After his brother is murdered, Victor starts to realize that family is important. He then leaves school to go back home and be with the family that he left behind. Family is not one of the major themes of Frankenstein, but I thought that this general theme connected well to my service event. The ‘York Road Initiative’ is an initiative that’s purpose is to give back to the community of York Road and to help them clean up the area. The experience of this service event made me feel like I was with family. We were all helping clean up York Road and it felt like I was working with my family for a good cause. The coming together of everyone for the sole purpose of cleaning up the road was a great bonding experience for everyone that attended. This also relates greatly to the Jesuit education. This service event was run by Loyola, which just so happens to be a Jesuit University. The Jesuit education’s main goal and purpose is to build community and to help others. This event did just that. By creating community and helping others, it helped to create a family experience. This family experience helped us all do a better job at cleaning up York Road. The bonding experiences and the sense of family and comfort are feelings that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
In “Formula”, by Langston Hughes, one of the major themes that I got out of the poem was pain. Langston was talking about how not all poetry should shine light to a happy ending. Through beautiful things, sometimes come horrible things. Langston mocks formulaic poetry by saying that pain is everywhere, so there is no purpose in making the world seem pain free. In relation to the York Road Initiative, I saw the pain of the people that live around the area. I know from going to school at Loyola that York Road is not one of the best areas around. York Road is filled with crime and poverty. The pain is evident in the people that live around York Road. They are suffering from things in this world that are not pretty. Langston Hughes would agree that a poem written about York Road would not have a great ending, yet. Helping the people of York Road clean up the area was a great feeling. It made me feel like I was helping to calm their pain. I volunteered because I want to make York Road a better place. I not only want to make York Road look better, but I also want to help the people of York Road have a better life for themselves. In relation to the Jesuit education, the service to help others is a main emphasis. By seeing their true pain, I felt like I was experiencing a true Jesuit education by opening up myself and allowing myself to try and help them the best I thought I could help them. Again, this experience truly changed my life, and I felt good about myself that I was able to try and make York Road a better place.
In “Old Walt”, by Langston Hughes, one of the main themes of the poem is the repetition of his thoughts. Langston is describing the manner in which Walt Whitman works before creating each one of his works. It is almost a poem about Whitman’s train of thought before he writes a poem or story. He talks repeatedly about finding and seeking and the details. In relation to my service of York Road, I want repetition to be the theme of my service. I want to go back again to clean up more areas and to help the people of York Road the best I can. This service had no relation to the repetition of Whitman’s thoughts, but this service is definitely something that I want to do again. It is not only something that I want to do again, but it is something that I need to do again. I cannot go another year without going to help clean up York Road again. It is such a satisfying feeling helping out and bonding with people you have never met before. Being able to help and clean up is something that definitely needs to be repeated. I am ‘seeking’ more opportunities to help clean up York Road and to help make it a better place. I am also ‘finding’ it very fulfilling and satisfying. Again, this experience goes hand and hand with the Jesuit education. The service of helping others, and community bonding, are the main themes and purposes of the Jesuit education.
I can honestly say that this service experience was one of the best of my life. I have not felt this satisfied and fulfilled after a service event than I do this one. I want to do it again and again. I want to help the people of York Road live the lives that they should. The people of York Road should not live in an area that is falling apart. They should live in a community where it is safe to have their kids run around the backyard or the side streets. They should live in a neighborhood where kids play foursquare and kickball. The amount of crime, poverty, and desolation on York Road is astounding. I want to go back soon to help out more.