Santa Orlando – Albany, NY Chapter
Quo Vadis, Latin for Where are you going?, is an Affiliate program designed to help returnees from an immersion trip (most often college students) to process and incorporate the experience into their lives going forward.
Santa Orlando and a team from the Albany Chapter met in February with 30 students from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY, to help them process their immersion trips to Jamaica, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic, This Day of Discernment helped the students recall the surprises, events, and gifts that will forever remain etched upon their hearts. Affiliates believe post-reflection is an important aspect of cultural immersion trips. Many programs prepare groups prior to their trips, but don’t plan time to process the experience after returning. Quo Vadis provides this service to groups returning from immersion trips to encourage them to share their experience with others who have taken trips such as these and have been changed by the experience.
An Albany Affiliate team of six facilitated this day, encouraging the students to remember events that touched them, to share these experiences with those present, and to let the experiences speak to them in the silence of their hearts. The students were thoroughly engaged throughout the day, sharing with each other in pairs, small groups and large group discussions. We felt privileged to hear their stories, many of which brought back similar memories of immersion trips that we ourselves have taken.
Students shared moments of joy: being welcomed like family by residents of their host country, or dancing and celebrating with children and entire communities. They embraced being out of their comfort zone by tossing aside fear of the other and instead celebrating the commonalities. Many students wished our country would value relationships more than schedules. They were surprised at seeing armed guards everywhere, and the fact that it made the locals feel safer, whereas the presence of increased armed personnel in our country causes fear and anxiety. The students commented on how the political decisions in one country have a great effect on the lives of the people in other countries; no country exists in isolation.
Some students expressed sadness to realize that they were feeling isolated and alone upon returning home. At most they receive a nod of the head in passing, instead of a connecting touch, a warm and authentic greeting. They have seen for themselves that material things do not necessarily bring joy.
Most students plan to have more cross-cultural interactions in the future. The worldwide concerns that they have studied have now become very real and personal. The students are a positive reflection of Le Moyne’s academic education, as well as proof of the spiritual and organizational prowess of their campus ministry director, Ms. Alice Zicardi.
The Quo Vadis* program, developed by Bill Murphy and other Affiliates, is adaptable and flexible so it can speak to groups of various ages. We encourage other Affiliate chapters to reach out to groups who take immersion trips to promote the program. The Albany Affiliate team was deeply touched by being present to the students and sharing their experiences. We also spoke of the Affiliate Pillars: Spirituality, Community, Action, and Global Vision. Know that the Maryknoll Affiliate charism is alive and well.