Monday, July 14, 2008

The University of Iowa, a Flood, & Xavier's Mission

As a university teacher, I'm used to being disappointed. But sometimes, once in a while, students surprise you, and they can make you very proud. This recently happened to me.

I just finished teaching Prophets and Prophecy. I require each section to come up with a class project that fulfills Xavier's Mission to promote a just and humane society. I do this to emphasize that biblical prophets worked hard to improve their worlds through similar projects focused on social justice. One of my sections was sad to learn about the summer floods upriver, and they decided to raise money for the University of Iowa, which flooded, because my students know firsthand how hard it is to rebuild a university following a deluge. When jerks like Rush Limbaugh dominate the news with stupid comparisons between flooding in Iowa and New Orleans, it's things like the actions of my students that give me hope for the future of America.

They raised $600, which isn't much to be honest in terms of rebuilding a flooded university, but I hope that students in Iowa know that university students in the Gulf South are at the very least thinking of them and empathizing with their suffering. Here is the letter they sent to the President of the University of Iowa:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff of the University of Iowa,

We are so sorry to learn about the flooding of your campus. We are students at Xavier University of Louisiana, and our campus flooded after the levees failed in August of 2005. We know how difficult it is to bring a campus back to life following a disaster.

As part of our summer Theology course, we were required to do a class project to make the world a better place. This fits both with the mission of our university, as well as the theme of social justice so prevalent in the biblical prophets which we are studying. As the prophet Micah requested more than 2,700 years ago, God desires of us ”to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." When we heard about the closing of your university due to flooding, we decided to raise money to help give support. We remember well what we experienced during Hurricane Katrina and the failed levees, and realizing that rebuilding is more difficult than most would imagine, we wanted to do what we could to help. While our university was miraculously able to reopen four months after it flooded, we have still not fully recovered, though we are working hard to achieve that. It takes a long time and a great amount of effort and cooperation and collaboration.

We also appreciated every kind word and gesture by those who were willing to help and for that, we send out words of encouragement to all of you and your families. You and the other victims of the flood all are in our hearts and in our prayers. This is only one of many obstacles that you will face in life and you must not let it dispirit you. Remember the saying “what does not kill you, only makes you stronger”; this is one of those events that makes that saying come to life. Things will get better in time. Spend the money however you see fit to help you recover.

Signed: Xavier Students in Theology 2002, Summer 2008

Well done students. And I'd like to thank my student Wyashika McClebb for taking a leadership role in this project. Here's a picture of them in front of the Xavier sign, which I personally saw submerged after the levees failed New Orleans.


A. Lin said...

No, $600 dollars isn't a lot; but when you consider the way and attitude in which it was given, your students' money is worth far more.

Great job Theology 2002!

Leigh C. said...

Bless these students. And bless you for creating the environment that encouraged them to make this gesture and take it to heart.

Anonymous said...

Very cool. I have nothing insulting so say...for now

Tim said...

If God was real, he would be impressed.



Sue said...

Well done!!