Greetings from Philadelphia! I am sorry we haven't posted but today was the first day I got on-line. They have kept our schedule very busy and I wasn't able to get to a wi-fi hot spot until today.
Although we've only been here a few days, there is so much to share - too much to try to get in a blog post at midnight! But, needless to say, this has been an amazing experience thus far. The week has been a great balance of prayer, service, talks, presentations, and fun (there is a social every evening). The Lasallian Christian Brothers and their lay colleagues have been so welcoming and are so excited that Trinity is here.
It has also been a great experience, I hope, for the 5 Trinity students. They have made tons of new friends and are diving right into the activities. Today was our first service day and we were all divided up so no one went to a site with someone from their school. That helped the students get to know students from other schools and to break out of their comfort zones (which they did quite easily).
The service (all in North Philadelphia) varied from painting, to yard work, to working with kids, etc. Ryan Carrier mowed four lawns today at Saint Ignatius Church/School whereas Ryan Nichols spent the day playing and coloring with dozens of 3rd graders at Visitation BVM School. Kasie Bourque helped paint at Lasalle Academy and Kiersten Photiades worked with women and children at an emergency shelter for single mothers called Jane Addams Place. I am not sure what Kerra Photiades did as I wasn't able to swing by her service site - I will go tomorrow.
I spent part of the day at Lasalle Academy with Ms. P, one of the Christian brothers, and 9 students. The school opened in 2003 after the local Catholic elementary school closed. The school is for students in grades 3-8 and are, as a person at the school described them, the "poorest of the poor." They only pay $200 in tuition with most money for the school raised by donors and the Board of Directors. The school is seen as an alternative to the Catholic schools that have higher tuitions and/or the city's crumbling public schools. Only 90 students attend the school and their academic year goes through July 29! Most of them were gone today on field trips so our students painted the outside railings and fences as well as a big map of the United States and the Earth in the playground. After the work, we went to a place called Rita's. They sell slush and custard (aka soft serve ice cream) but their speciality is a gelati. This is a scoop of custard, topped with slush, and then topped by more custard. One of the girls, after finishing hers, said, "I wish I could experience that again and again."
OK, I do need to get to bed as we have another full day ahead of us. I will write more tomorrow.