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Category Archives: 2014 Andrew Nguyen (Denver, CO)

Serving with the American Red Cross

Manitou Incline

My last weekend in Colorado, my host family and I travelled to Manitou Springs and hiked a 1 mile long, 2,000ft of elevation, at 50% incline hiking trail called the Manitou Incline. What a strenuous Saturday morning!

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This last picture is of my host family and I at the Alumni reception on my last day in Denver. Thank you for everything Kevin and Gina! Go Gaels!20140727_171826

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Rocky Mountain 14er

This weekend I hiked my first Rocky Mountain 14er! The Colorado Rockies have about 53 mountains and peaks that reach over 14,000 ft of elevation, which are nicknamed 14ers. My host family and I hiked Mt. Bierstadt, which is about 14,065ft. We left at 6AM and hiked the beautiful mountain side.10501649_10152546903398537_2756839175622445991_n

 

Service as Leadership

This past week I implemented a two day Youth Leadership Workshop for high school students in the Denver metro area. I’ve been working on this workshop all summer long, and I must say it was a great success. We had a total of 25 students participating in the workshop and had many positive responses. From our evaluations, we received many comments saying that the workshop was useful, insightful, fun, and that they would work on creating a new Red Cross Club at their schools.

The theme of the workshop was Service as Leadership, in which I conveyed the importance of service and involvement in the community as a sign of leadership. Leadership through the lens of service allowed students to see the impact that everyday deeds and small acts of service to others creates bonds within the community. They empower themselves to be postive agents of change to act where they see is a need of the community. Service as leadership is a model that I have developed personally throughout my life.

“Red Cross for lifeeeeee” – one student attending the workshop

 

My 4th of July Weekend- What a sense of patriotism and community!

At the annual El Cerrito Neighborhood 4th of July Parade... Matching t-shirts and everything!

At the annual El Cerrito Neighborhood 4th of July Parade… Matching t-shirts and everything!

The police and fire departments both came out to celebrate the 4th with the El Cerrito community. I got a personal tour of a fire truck!

The police and fire departments both came out to celebrate the 4th with the El Cerrito community. I got a personal tour of a fire truck!

Walking back to my friend's grandparents' condo nestled between Mission Bay and PB. Watched two sets of fireworks :)

Walking back to my friend’s grandparents’ condo nestled between Mission Bay and PB. Watched two sets of fireworks with some great new friends! Also learned how to surf the next morning… Kinda 🙂

Hiked in 95 degree heat with my friend Karim. This 8 mile round-trip hike was a doozy, but totally worth it!

Hiked in 95 degree heat with my friend Karim. This 8 mile round-trip hike was a doozy, but totally worth it!

 

Now I Become Myself

Some brief thoughts….

I’ve been a reflective person for a long time now. Always looking inward at myself, my personal and spiritual growth, and always looking for an answer to the question “Why am I here?”  Two more questions stick out to me that are necessary in tackling that question: Who am I? and What will I do?

Who am I requires deep reflection over time, coupled with challenges and faith. Understanding yourself, your skill sets, your gifts, talents, passions, are all part of understanding who you are. Understanding who you are not is equally as important. Honesty about who you are and who you are not is an essential part to self-reflection.

Vocation- in determining a vocation, it has always been important to me to do something that is beneficial to the community that I live in, because I do not live just for myself–I have not been raised by myself, nor do I live limited to serving and pleasing myself. Therefore, it is important for me to have a vocation that is beneficial to others. Next, a vocation must have interest or passion–something that I care about and am invested in.

To me vocation is about living a good life. A good life that respects, appreciates, and upholds justice for all. This is different from ‘having a good life.’  The question “Why am I here” may be answered with “to live a good life,” which in my opinion encompasses living a life in service to others, rather than living a life in service to myself. I cannot be without others.

 

Half Way Point

Im half way through the summer internship with American Red Cross. I initially wanted to learn more about the ways in which American Red Cross serves people, and in addition I wanted to get a good feel for how a non-profit organization operates. I’ve learned that the Red Cross stay very close to its mission statement in terms of service and has very direct goals: To prevent and alleviate human suffering.

The Red Cross carries this out in three phases stretched out through various departments: Prepare, Respond, Recover. I’ve had some difficulty aligning my work in Youth Services and engaging with youth, mostly through Preparedness service work, in a way that also reflects the mission and goals of CILSA and the Summer Fellowship. I have found it very difficult to put into perspective of serving the poor and marginalized through social justice advocacy when the organization that I am serving does not directly serve that group.

The dynamic of working with those who are well-off enough to help themselves, thus are able and willing to help others is a completely different dynamic from engaging with and working with those who cannot help themselves. Particularly, my work with youth engagement has led me to serve the community by getting the youth engaged and active in service advocating “service” in general. Most of my work has been promotion of volunteerism to the youth in the community.

In the past week, I have began searching for other areas that I can get involved in the Denver community. I have reached out to the Catholic Workers of Denver and spent some time volunteering with them at their house. There the Catholic Workers serve 15 individuals and families that are struggling to find work and housing, while they temporarily stay at the Catholic Workers house.

 

Justice and common good

Justice and the common good are issues that are often misunderstood when taking into account the difficulty of separating personal or religious morality and public service or the law. Everyone has there own influences into what the “good life” is and how to obtain it. Each person has their own understanding of how the good life may be practiced as well as shaped, either by personal choice or by societal standards. The issue is that if everyone has their own opinion on what the good life looks like and how to live it out, how can we as a society come to agree, much less understanding of how to best live?

Justice and the common good poses questions such as: is what is good for the many, also the good for me? Who is the arbiter in deciding what is the good? Does society decide? Do judges? Do I decide? Or perhaps my religion? What is moral law and how do I determine it?

Socio-political issues today cannot be intrinsically removed from moral biases unless if those issues are removed entirely from government judgment. Issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, etc. will ultimately presume a stance one way or the other and cannot remain neutral and govern the many, unless the decisions are left to individuals to make on their own.

It seems as if the place that justice and the common good must be is in the collaborative discussions, dialogues and education of people to people about important issues.

One of the core values of the American Red Cross is that it takes a neutral position in politics, war, and religion. That is why it is also known internationally as the Red Crescent. Justice and the common good as defined by the Red Cross is that it prevents and alleviates ALL human suffering, regardless of who you are. Justice and common good then are considered universal and common for all persons.