Casa Educational Network - News & Events
Casa News & Events
Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013
Every neighborhood has its unique personality, right? But it’s questionable how many communities boast such a vibrant personality as our neighborhood here in Barangka. From the brightly colored homes to the daily sounds of vendors selling their products door to door, Barangka is lit with cultural vitality.
However, the secret of Barangka emerges in the afternoons, when exuberant greetings and invitations to play in the park ring out in the narrow streets. The kids in the neighborhood are truly the jewels of this place. They welcome us into seeing life in the Philippines through their eyes, eyes that marvel at the smallest details of a tropical flower and light up at the mention of a piggyback ride. The ordinary becomes spectacular when we spend time with the kids in Barangka.
As a Casa Bayanihan community, we spend one afternoon a week facilitating games in the park with the kids and their mothers. It’s a unique opportunity to learn more about our neighbors and the culture of the neighborhood. Barangka pulses with life, and the kids in particular continue to welcome us into their realities with liveliness and imagination.
We invite you to come and encounter the vibrancy of the Barangka community for yourself.
Find more pictures and stories from the Philippines here
Monday, Feb. 4, 2013
Meet Sister Mariek
By Sullivan Oakley, Comunity Coordinator at Casa Bayanihan
She is a woman religious from Belgium who came to the Philippines at the age of 29 to work at Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (House Without Stairs), an NGO that provides just and meaningful employment, housing, and education for the differently abled. Sister Marieke is an astonishing woman who has made a life of giving attention and love to the marginalized, to those who have been forgotten. She is a collective memory of the stories and lives of the people whom she has encountered, and her example reminds us of the importance of each person we meet and each moment we share. “They might seem small to you,” she says, “but they aren’t. These small moments mean everything.”
Casa Bayanihan has the privilege of knowing Sister Marieke through Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, which serves as one of our praxis communities that Casa students visit twice a week during their time here (read more about TWH & Casa Bayanihan’s other praxis sites here—>http://www.scu.edu/casa/bayanihan/program/praxis/).
You can find Sister tending to the gardens on the grounds of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, biking around the property donning her famous tie-dyed jumpsuit and greeting everyone she meets, or sharing the unbelievable stories she has collected from working with the differently abled for more than 40 years.
“I have so many stories,” she repeats, “so many stories…and they are unbelievable.”
We invite you to come to the Philippines. Meet Sister Marieke, and hear some of her stories.
Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012
Loyola Marymount University and the Casa Educational Network are happy to announce the opening of Casa Argentina, the newest Casa program. Casa Argentina will receive its first students in Cordoba, Argentina beginning fall 2013. Students will study at the Universidad Católica de Cordoba (UCC) and will be taught by both LMU and UCC faculty. The program will be built on the same four pillars which Casa de la Solidaridad and Casa Bayanihan are founded. Throughout the semester, students will not only engage in community via their praxis sites, but they will simultaneously learn about the Argentine Dirty War, immigration and discrimination, and agricultural rights and reform, among other social justice issues specific to Cordoba and Argentina.
The program will be directed by Santiago Bunce, Jennifer Abe Ph.D. and Douglas E. Christine Ph.D. Santiago was a student at the Casa de la Solidaridad in 2005 while studying Theology at Boston College. Since his undergraduate degree, Santiago has worked in nonprofit consulting, corporate social responsibility consulting and international infrastructure development. In June 2012, Santiago completed a Master’s degree in International Economics, Development and Nonprofit Management.
Jennifer and Douglas are both faculty at LMU in the Psychology and Theological Studies Departments, respectively. Jennifer received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from UCLA in 1992. Her research examines help-seeking and cultural competence in mental health service delivery to ethnically diverse populations. Douglas received his doctorate in 1988 from the Graduate Theological Union in Christian Spirituality. Douglas is the author of the award-winning book, The Word in the Desert, and is editor of the journal Spiritus. He has recently published a new book, The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology. Both Jennifer and Douglas will be moving to Cordoba for three years with four of their five children. They will also co-teach a course entitled, “Contemplatives in Action: Psychology, Spirituality and Liberation” while in Argentina.
The three directors are thrilled for the opportunity to build Casa Argentina in Cordoba. With the support of LMU, UCC and the Casa Network, they are confident the program will be an extension of the empowering and liberating experiences which already exist in El Salvador and the Philippines. We encourage you to reach out to the directors if you have any questions or thoughts.
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012
Casa Bayanihan students spend two days a week accompanying community members in marginalized Filipino communities. Their classroom expands into Metro Manila as they build friendships and learn through experience about the daily struggles and joys of the people
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012
Recently, my father came to visit me from the United States. We spent one morning in a Christian base
community called El Pueblo de Dios en Camino (The people of God on the way). I wrote a little poem
about the experience we had during a celebration of the word.
El Pueblo de Dios en Camino. Celebration of the word.
Stifling, hot, immovable air,
provided by the Holy Mystery. Dispersed through the homily
shared by all.
Incomprehensible to my father.
No holy sacrament, no body or blood of the Christ.
Crisis. Salvation at stake?! Wait,
back to translating.
So much beauty lost in the process.
Beauty, like language, cannot be caged.
Only know, father, that they ask
about your dying mother.
They welcome you. Open arms. Common theme.
Accompaniment enters my mind. Wait.
What does it look like now? How can we accompany these people?
Wrong question. What can we do
to open our hearts to be accompanied?
Two way street.
To love others, one must first love herself.
To accompany, one must be accompanied.
I came to accompany, but was accompanied;
my father the same, with his faith, his mother.
To fully live, you must give yourself away to others,
Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
This past weekend Casa Bayanihan students and staff took a day trip to hike Taal Volcano, just an hour and a half drive outside of Manila. The day's adventures took us to the lake shore town of Talisay, where we took a relaxing boat ride out to Taal Volcano. We then began the 45 minute hike, enjoying the lush views of the surrounding ridges and the lake on the way. Upon reaching the peak, the view of the sulfuric lake, Crater Lake, inside the volcano was stunning. The beauty of nature in the Philippines was both serene and rejuvenating for all of us, and we left feeling inspired to keep seeking out all that the Philippines has to offer!
Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012
"I have no grammatically correct sentences that can adequately portray the feelings, experiences or insights I’ve brought back with me from Calatagan. All I have is awe. Awe for the fishermen who go out to sea early in the morning, awe for the women who go out to the market to sell, awe for the children who constantly carry with them the hospitality and love of their parents and awe for the entire province for their trust and loyalty with one another. "
-Amber Cavarlez, USF
"There was something very peculiar about the energy of Calatagan that reminded me of my father, so I wrote this poem the last day I was there. After having lost my father five years ago, it was refreshing to know that his presence still remained in what I encountered in this very special and sacred place."
I will remember the rain.
I will remember the ways in which it poured down, washing away my tears
and reminding me that my father is still here.
There is something sacred about this place.
My father's spirit dwells with me here.
In the dancing of the tree branches in the wind,
in the gentleness of the ocean waves in the shallow,
in the drops of rain that fall-sometimes light,
sometimes powerfully falling down, fleeting.
In the love that is shared, through the spirit that is Angel.
When I look out at this beauty I imagine myself
seeing through his eyes.
I will remember the rain.
-Jules Peithman, UC Santa Cruz
Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012
Last Sunday, the same weekend that I spent in Las Nubes, I hiked down the mountain with Elsa a little before 7:00 and I went straight to El Pueblo de Dios en Camino. This day was the day that the community was going to celebrate the life of Carlos Acevedo (the catechist that was martyred) as well as the lives lost in the Mudslide of Montebello. Since I arrived so early, I began my day by helping Anita with some last minute things that had to get done- setting up chairs, sweeping, getting supplies ready, etc. Around 8:30, we took some large photos of some martyrs, some crosses, and some signs to the Ermita. If you recall, this is where the discovered bodies were laid out during the mudslide for family members to come and claim. As people arrived, we distributed flowers and signs with scripture verses on them. All in all, there were well over 100 people that came to share in this special service! Around 9:30, we all began a procession through the streets of San Ramon. This was a super chivo experience for me. The young and old alike were walking through the streets of San Ramon singing songs of liberation together. A large wooden cross led the procession, followed by huge pictures of some martyrs that were particularly close to the community. I was asked to help to carry the picture of Silvia, one of the martys that Anita knew very well- I was definitely humbled. As we walked through the street singing together (well, I was listening) we also shouted out chants. So somebody would scream out “Viva _____ (martyrs, victims of the mudslide, Monsenor Romero, Christian Base Communities, etc)” And we would all respond “Que Viva!” Which means, in a sense, “Long Live the King!” Or in our case, the presence of those are still with us. This was just a really cool experience of solidarity with the Salvadorians.
Finally, we arrived at a large park. This park is made of the dirt mound leftover from the mudslide. So essentially, the earth that we were standing on was once part of the upper volcano and had caused many deaths. While nobody can confirm it, the park is also a sort of mass grave, since it was never formally overturned to ensure that no body parts were left. So we were really standing on holy ground, with a cross to commemorate the event. Here, we (over 100 of us) had a worship service. We sang songs, learned about Carlos Acevedo and the Mudslide of Montebello, and had communion together. Several youth from the community shared the sermon with us. At one point while we were singing a solemn song, the youth spread hundreds of rose petals all around us in the park. To me, these red petals among the dry, brown ground signified so many lives lost- a solemn occasion indeed. All is all, it was an incredible experience. But perhaps the most exciting part of it was that they used pan dulce for communion. Pan dulce is essentially any type of bread that is sweet- cookies, pastries, etc. I’m convinced that if churches in America gave out cookies instead of cardboard wafers for communion, all of our churches would be packed!
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012
A faculty/staff delegation from SCU is visiting Casa de la Solidaridad in El Salvador. They have visited the praxis site Las Nubes, historic places, and other communities.
Monday, Aug. 27, 2012
Students in El Salvador have started the experience in their praxis sites, we wanted to share some photos with all of you.