Serve Well Blog

Entries tagged 'Law'

2.28.17

Bridging divides, responding to fear

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Advocacy, Law

 


 

The impact of skills gained through service and honed in the Krista Foundation's service leadership program extends far beyond the service year.

Watching co-workers and citizens place their lives at risk to help advance the reform of Honduras's police force, often closely connected to gangs and drug trafficking organizations, helped Aaron Korthuis '13 understand why someone would flee a country and seek residency elsewhere. What he witnessed through his work with the Association for a More Just Society stoked his commitment to seeking justice for the oppressed-and sensitive to the demeaning ways in which refugees and asylum seekers can be treated when they try to enter the U.S.

So it's not surprising that in the hours following President Trump's January Executive Order to ban refugees from entering the country, Aaron, now attending Yale Law School, played a key role in the federal lawsuit challenging the order. To help file the motion on behalf of two Iraqi men with valid visas who were detained after arriving at JFK Airport shortly after the EO was signed, Aaron and half a dozen fellow students sat in a New Haven basement drafting court filings requesting a federal court to stop the removal of those affected by the order in anticipation of an emergency hearing.

"When we heard that the stay was granted and that it was nationwide, there was euphoria in the room," Aaron said. "No other way to put it."

Aaron knows that not everyone agrees with his action. Tools from the Krista Foundation, including the January 2015 Krista Foundation debriefing and transition retreat, have helped equip him to engage people who feel differently.

"In 2015, I really needed time to reflect on what I had learned from serving in Honduras," he says. "I had just gotten married and started law school, and I wanted to think about how I was going to continue incorporating the lessons of my time abroad as I moved forward. One of the most meaningful things about the debriefing that I have tried to make part of my life is listening to the stories of others, especially those who are different from me, and letting that inform my work."

Faith is where Aaron starts when he reaches across the political divide. "I always try to make clear that my faith is the reason why I spend my time working on behalf of immigrants and refugees," he says. "Especially with other people of faith, there is a common ground, a common language I can use to explain why I disagree with them and why I think our faith compels a different understanding of many issues dividing our country."

Faith is also the reason he continues on his path. "The center of the career part of my life is seeking to work on behalf of people who are victims of violence or who are subject to oppression and trying to flee their homeland or make it better, by assisting them or ensuring that they can seek safety."

1.30.15

Nominate a Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Environmental Projects, Urban America, Law, Microenterprise, Poverty: Urban US & International, Preparing To Serve, Arts & Culture, Business, Community, Economic Justice, Education, Environment, Faith/Theological Exploration, Global Citizenship, Healthcare, Homelessness, Intercultural Development, Peace & Reconciliation, Poverty: Urban US & International, Preparing To Serve

The Krista Colleague Cohort Program is the heart of the Krista Foundation. Nominated by community leaders, 17 young adult Krista Colleagues are selected each year. Colleagues are committed to a sustained period of voluntary or vocational service of at least nine months and motivated to serve by their Christian faith. The Foundation community journeys alongside Colleagues before, during and after service, empowering them to transform service experience into lives of service leadership.

Acceptance as a Colleague includes a $1,000 Service & Leadership Grant to be used at the intersection of vocational interests and commitment to serve. The Foundation pays for four years of the Krista Foundation annual Service Leadership conference and debriefing retreat. Additionally, each Colleague commits to serving as a peer mentor with future Krista Colleagues, developing global citizenship through leadership in retreats and conferences. 

Nominations are due by March 20th, so nominate today!

Click here for nomination criteria or to complete the online nomination forms!

Questions? Please contact Program Director, Stacy Kitahata

Please LIKE, POST, and SHARE this link with any potential nominators.

-The Krista Foundation

1.27.15

Transition and More Transition

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Education, Law, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Transitions Home & Beyond

Brittany Harwell is passionate about justice.

She spent 2011-12 with International Justice Mission Kenya helping to free illegally detained clients. Observing how justice works-and doesn't work-in a developing country, she came home filled with "righteous rage" but tongue-tied: "I couldn't articulate why I was passionate, or who I wanted to help and why."

Next, as a teacher in Texas, Brittany found herself asking hard questions on how race and class affect both education and the U.S. justice system. Her special educations students, who were mostly Mexican-American, floundered in regular classes instead of receiving promised support-and then one of her 8th graders vanished into the juvenile justice system. "This is not fair!" she told herself. "I can't lose another Nick!"

In the Krista Foundation's structured debriefing and peer-mentoring process, Brittany started the difficult process of reconciling her ideals and her service experiences. Bringing the pieces together, she used her Service Leadership Grant to participate in the National summit for Courageous Conversations, exploring effective ways to bridge racial disparities and equip students for success.

Now a first-year student at Georgetown University Law Center, Brittany is excited to see "how the law interacts with diversity and race and what the patterns look like, what you can do, and what you can't." For Brittany, "what you can't do" will not be the end of the story.

 

2.26.14

Little Things Console Us Because Little Things Afflict Us
by Nikkita Oliver - Krista Colleague

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Urban America, Intercultural Development, Law, Arts & Culture, Community, Education, Global Citizenship, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Intercultural Development, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

Little things console us because little things afflict us.
- Pascal

 

I recently attended the "RACE: Are We So Different?" exhibit at the Seattle Center as part of a Krista Foundation outing with the Krista Colleague community. Once inside, I found myself at a unique display including a binder full of notecards where many visitors expressed both contempt and reverence for sports mascots.

A number of the commenters self-identified as Native, illuminating the trauma and harm that sports mascots inflict on them, their tribes, and communities. Juxtaposed to these heartfelt truths were the thoughts of those who see no problem with the manner in which sports teams have co-opted Native cultural images and in many instances commercialized the most stereotypical Native images. As if the dialogue were not complex enough, there were those who self-identified as Native who took no issue with the mascots and maybe even saw other issues as more concerning.

One comment stood out vividly. A member of the Tlingit tribe described what they believed to be the gravest issues facing Native communities. They discussed the life expectancy of Native males and the drop-out rate of Native teens, stating, "These issues are far more important than sports team mascots." To many, Native mascots do not seem like a big issue, but often it is the things that seem the smallest that have the greatest impact.

As a brown person in the white institution of law I constantly deal with small nuanced forms of racism that exist because of larger ones. The larger ones will continue to exist because we are afraid and/or unwilling to deal with the smaller forms of racism.

There is an overall acceptance of the co-optation of cultural assets in the United States with disregard for the impact on communities and people. Additionally, rarely do the owners and creators of those cultural assets receive any sort of recognition or payment for the use of their image even when the image is being used for profit. This process further contributes to the damage done to a community or cultural groups psyche and continues to propel a negative and oppressive relationship between the "minority" and the "majority"1.

While some non-Native people may not see the problem, and may even point to to those Native people who take no issue with it to legitimate their own point of view, the reality is there are Native peoples who are offended by the use of their cultural assets as mascots. When considering racial and ethnic concerns that may seem minute, it is important to remember that big things are often made of smaller things. A small cut can very easily become an infection and a small change can be the catalyst needed to spark a big change.

Dr. John M. Perkins speaks of these little things in his work. When I was in college I sat in a room of young leaders at Seattle Pacific University eager to make change in the world. He told us the key to community development is understanding that the most obvious problems are often symptoms of a larger underlying illness. He told us, "rarely is the solution to the most obvious struggle the root cause of the problem". He encouraged us to consider the small and often times overlooked concerns, especially if those are the concerns the community is point us towards.

He then shared with us this story:

A team of community developers arrived in a neighborhood. They interviewed the people, did research and prepared a list of things they believed the community needed to solve. This list had hundreds of items ranked from the most important to the least. The community members' response to the community developers was that the rat problem was the most important issue to address. The rat problem was ranked in the lowest portion of the list the developers created. Despite their own ideas, the community developers listened to the neighborhood and addressed the rat problem first. As the rats disappeared so did most of the list.

Dr. Perkins shared this story to remind us of two key principles in community development: The small things matter and a community knows itself better than an outside community developer.

At the University of Washington Law School, I listen to people daily discuss our systems and struggles - rarely reflecting on their own role in a problematic system. They hardly ever consider the importance and value of community voice and in particular those communities that are marginalized and disenfranchised. In these spaces there are few people of color, and like those who shared their opinions in the binder at the race exhibit, we do not always agree on the solution. This often becomes a tool of division, co-optation, and/or further marginalization of those voices who speak in opposition to the majority opinion.

Listening is of the utmost importance in addressing any and every situation. If we do not first listen, we will not know how to act in ways that promote wholeness and reconciliation. Too often in U.S. culture do we rely on our formal education (and our privilege) as clout for why we should lead or be in charge. We are not very good at following those who have less formal education, though the community members have far more experience and knowledge regarding their community.

Mascots may seem like a small issue, but when we consider our generational memories of historic racial violence and present afflictions we can see that the psyches of people of color (and white people) have been damaged by big things sustained by small consistent actions and inactions. This small act is the continued poking and prodding on a large wound and emblematic of how we often devalue other people and their cultures. Mascots may not seem like a big deal in light of drop-out rates and mass incarceration, but they are small piece of the puzzle in addressing the root causes of both individual and institutional racism. Our willingness and humility to eliminate the "small" things are a way we show our love and respect for humanity and lead us towards addressing the "larger" struggles.

I believe that we would better serve each other and society if we learned to see multiple solutions, no matter how big or small, as viable and equally necessary; to address the mascots, drop-out rates and mass incarceration all at once.

The work of reconciliation is not easy and often happens in the least obvious places. Reconciliation, like a journey, happens one step at time; sometimes in small steps and sometimes in large strides. We often do not know the value of our small steps, but without them we would not have made it through the journey. Listening and acting on the small things makes the big changes possible.

 

1 The use of quotations around "majority" and "minority" is to signify an important nuance in the use of these terms. It is not to say one group is more major and the other more minor, but in this instance referring to specifically numbers or the size of the population of people. The majority being the larger quantitative group and minority being a smaller quantitative group. In the United States the use of these terms in this manner is appropriate, but in a place like South Africa, where the minority (Dutch/white South Africans) were in power and the majority (Native/black South Africans) were not, these terms must be used differently. 

12.19.12

A Solace for Sandy Hook

Linda Lawrence Hunt | Krista Foundation Press

On the evening after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School broke our nation's heart, we happened to be taking our five-year old granddaughter Erin to see Coeur d' Alene, Idaho's local theater production of The Little Drummer Boy.

Like most of the other young children, she dressed in festive velvet and lace, her dark hair beribboned, her face animated with the joy and innocence of a child at Christmas. Holding her hand, and seeing every other parent in the audience treasuring their child, made imagining the inconsolable pain of mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents 3000 miles away poignantly palpable. How will they ever recover from such senseless violence?

I remember such shock and grief after learning our 25-year-old daughter Krista was killed when a speeding bus plunged over a mountain cliff in Bolivia. A young woman with a radiant spirit, she was volunteering with her husband Aaron with indigenous families in a remote village. Her death shattered our hearts in as many shards as the broken glass littering the mountain crevasse. This began our journey of living for years in liminal space, an "in-between" time from life as we assumed it would unfold, and the daily reality of learning to live with hearts wrenched by sorrow.

On television, I heard one of the Newtown residents say, "Our world changed today." It reminded me of what many told us after Krista's death. "Everything changes after the death of a child." I remember resisting such assertions. There were some things I knew I wanted to keep....a loving marriage and family, a living faith, deep friendships, and a college teaching career that I enjoyed. Would a daughter's death kill all of this?

At Krista's memorial service, I saw a college student whose family had endured the horrific murder of her 2-year-old nephew, Devon. "Molly, how have you and your family survived such a loss," I asked. She paused, and then said, "Your joys become more intense." Her words reminded me of the wisdom of Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet, who said, "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." At our daughter's memorial fourteen years ago, these words held only abstract meaning. Mostly I prayed that somehow I could just keep my heart open and not shut off to the world. I wanted to trust in God's promise "to be with us."Needing to understand how parents ever endure such overwhelming loss led me to talk with other grieving parents. I wanted to hear how they lived with any sense of hope and resilience. We all needed immense strength and even creativity to survive while walking in the maelstrom of grief, something we feel bereft of in the early acute rawness of pain. They generously added their voices into the silence which often surrounds suffering. A moveable feast of questions guided their unchosen journey. Will I feel this bad forever? Will it be possible to ever savor life again? How can I keep a broken heart open? Are there ways to remember a child that are life-affirming? Why do people grieve so differently? Can one face grief in transformative and intentional ways? Where was God's protective hand?

After the time of profound grieving, most parents I talked with said their emergence into deeper acceptance and peace came gradually. They spoke of living with expanded hearts, and a growing kinship with others who experience all of the losses that life may bring. I also began to notice there's even more to this inseparable quality of joy and sorrow that Gibran affirms. Our family discovered, as many other parents shared, how our love for a child has potential to be a resource for solace, even creativity, within our broken hearts. We do not seek closure, another illusionary image popularized in society. Nor does any parent, sibling, or spouse want to forget one who will live in our hearts forever.

If we stay open to this wellspring of love that once graced our daily lives, we can journey through our desolation and find inner strength. To the astonishment of many parents, they spoke of slowly discovering the healing energy in the reservoir of love that underlies all great loss. This became a dynamic resource for healing. I already heard such a spirit emerging from the father of Emilie Parker, who shared with the world the beauty of his daughter's loving life which brought their family such joy. He also extended grace to the shooter's family in recognition of their unique loss.

As citizens in the Newtown community gather in grief, I have been grateful for the pauses. President Obama's silence and tears echoed the nation's. Pastors, priests, and rabbis have been wonderfully wise to not give spiritual bromides, but to listen and comfort with their presence, sharing their own genuine shock. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat said in his column, "The Loss of Innocents," even Dostoyevsky, a Christian, didn't try to give theological answers about God's goodness when Ivan Karamazov raged with questions about the suffering of innocent children. Instead, Dostoyevsky developed characters in the Brothers Karamazov who demonstrated how love transcends suffering.

Families in grief face pivotal choices. As they repattern the fabric of their days, will they give themselves the time to grieve, allowing time to mourn and patiently attend to sorrow? Will they stay open to the love that surrounds them? Will they eventually find ways for their love to empower their lives?

There is also an opportunity for all of us as we grieve with the families. In what ways can we offer the transcendent love that Dostoyevsky encourages as a powerful response to suffering? Will we continue our prayers, offered from around the nation, believing they matter? As citizens, will we engage in the complex public policy questions around gun control and mental health support?

If we know families in Newtown, or families in our own towns immersed in grief, will we be listeners, and provide practical care? Will we give families the time grief needs? Parents often spoke of how gestures of love from family, friends, even strangers helped them get through their dark days. I still remember a brief note, sent months after Krista's death, consoling us with the ancient words from Psalm 51, "Heart shattered lives...by no means escape God's notice." We know such acts of kindness carried us during many vulnerable days and months.

Now many years later, I recognize there certainly is truth to the statement that "Everything changes after the death of a child." Within two years, I left my college teaching profession after we founded the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship as a tangible way to honor Krista's life. Now, many hours in my days revolve around this choice. Yet much remained. Though husbands and wives often grieve differently, we kept the love and respect that allowed us our own journey. Friends sustained us; faith gave us solace. But more than exterior changes were the interior changes as we learned to live with sorrow and love intertwined. We have been united by a kinship with the many others we encounter who live with losses. We share the invitation and challenge to trust the Biblical words that "God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of sound mind."

Linda Hunt

Already the residents of Newtown are demonstrating the empowering characteristics of compassion, strength, intention, and resolve that mark their community. But in this bleak midwinter week, as families and mourners lower the little caskets of each child lost, and each adult slain, I will join with our nation in Newtown's days of lament.

Nothing will replace the shattering loss of one we have loved. Yet, this is not the end of the story. Out of such colossal evil, one senses that great goodness will also emerge. Perhaps even astonish us. From the community of Newtown, and their grieving families, we will likely see glimpses of the truth that love never ever ends

Linda Hunt, Co-founder
The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship