Berkley Center Knowledge Resources Home Berkley Center Home Berkley Center on iTunes U Berkley Center's YouTube Channel Berkley Center's Vimeo Channel Berkley Center's YouTube Channel Berkley Center's iTunes Page Berkley Center's Twitter Page Berkley Center's Facebook Page Berkley Center's Vimeo Channel Berkley Center's YouTube Channel Berkley Center's iTunes Page WFDD's Twitter Page WFDD's Facebook Page Doyle Undergraduate Initiatives Undergraduate Learning and Interreligious Understanding Survey Junior Year Abroad Network Undergraduate Fellows Knowledge Resources KR Classroom Resources KR Countries KR Traditions KR Topics Berkley Center Home Berkley Center Knowledge Resources Berkley Center Home Berkley Center Forum Back to the Berkley Center World Faiths Development Dialogue Back to the Berkley Center Religious Freedom Project Back to the Berkley Center Religious Freedom Project Blog Back to the Berkley Center Catholic Social Thought Back to the Berkley Center Normative Orders Collaborative
July 22, 2014  |  About the Berkley Center  |  Directions to the Center  |  Subscribe
 
Programs People Publications Events For Students Resources Religious Freedom Project WFDD

BLOGGER

Gregory Ouellette is a Georgetown student graduating in 2013, majoring in Classics and minoring in Justice and Peace Studies. He is originally from Quincy, Massachusetts. He is involved in the... This blog features an ongoing conversation among Georgetown students, staff, faculty, and community members involved in interfaith service, as well as their efforts to further interreligious understanding and engagement with communities in the Washington, DC area and beyond. The blog supports the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, an invitation to institutions of higher education to commit to interfaith and community service programming on campus. Read more about interfaith service at Georgetown here.

OTHER POSTS

Jainism and Islam: More Similar Than You Might Think

July 8, 2014

The Summit for Radical Egalitarianism

June 25, 2014

Alternative Spring Break 2014: A Native Experience

June 5, 2014

Learning about the World Through International Model UN

May 20, 2014

An Opportunity to Lead

May 5, 2014

Is Religion a Stalemate in International Debate?

April 30, 2014

The Courtyard of the Gentiles and Better Together Day

April 29, 2014

Acting for the Right and Wrong Reasons

April 23, 2014

Hip-Hop Heals

April 23, 2014

Different Faiths, One Practice: Interfaith Meditation

April 22, 2014

Rediscovering the Festival of Colors: Holi 2014

April 15, 2014

Lingering Questions on Interfaith Marriage in America

April 15, 2014

Learning to Engage with Religious Diversity

April 14, 2014

The Power of Dialogue: Alternative Spring Break 2014

April 8, 2014

1525 Lesseps Street: Alternative Spring Break 2014

April 7, 2014

A Religious Experience on the Peaks of Aspen Grove

March 26, 2014

What They Forgot to Teach in Kindergarten: The Problem of Religious Illiteracy

March 24, 2014


>> more

Finding Humanity through Friday Food

November 14, 2011

Since my Freshman year at Georgetown I’ve attended Friday Food. With the group, I help prepare the dinners and head over to Dupont Circle where we distribute the food and converse with the members of the homeless community in that area. For me the conversations have always been the most important part.
Recently I have reflected on my experience at Friday Food and its connection to the goals of the President’s Interfaith Challenge. Friday Food addresses the first goal of the Challenge because people from various faith communities come to Friday Food and work on this project together. Also, the program works to end poverty by providing food for and engaging in conversation with people experiencing homelessness.

This project also addresses the second goal of the Challenge because many students have been able to incorporate experiences from Friday Food into their classes and discuss and reflect on their experiences with professors. Lastly, this event strengthens Georgetown University’s ties with the local community because we reach out to the community of people in Dupont Circle.

I see participating in Friday Food as a do-able social action. It has been a worthwhile way for me to get involved in the D.C. community. Friday Food has also helped further enlighten me to social justice topics that I have been learning about in Justice and Peace Studies classes. I have met inspiring people through Friday Food.

Through Friday Food, I’ve become friends with Jeff who experiences homelessness. He usually stands near the CVS in Dupont Circle and asks for money. He is a very nice, friendly, and generous person. Whenever he notices that we have extra meals, he offers to give them to people he knows who need food. Unfortunately, I have witnessed Jeff be the victim of multiple forms of violence, including direct, structural, and cultural violence.

Jeff experienced direct violence when he was falsely accused of helping people steal from the CVS in Dupont Circle and was forced to spend a night in jail until the police realized that he was not involved in the thefts. He experienced cultural violence when, as a youth, he received a poor education in school, had to drop out of high school, and then later struggled to obtain his GED because he still could not obtain the necessary education to pass. Finally, I regularly see Jeff experience cultural violence, when people walk past him and ignore him, after he has said hello and asked them for money.

I have noticed that many people apparently have this erroneous notion that it is permissible to ignore people asking for money, and consequently treat them as if they are less than human. People who ignore those in need also simultaneously alienate them and support an unjust order that engenders violence. We must remember that when people deny the humanity of other people, they negate their own as well.

Moreover, we must remember that the very essence of being human is that our humanity is caught up, inextricably bound up, in other people’s humanity. Ignoring people is an easy wrong to commit. Personally, before I began working with people experiencing homelessness, I admit that I was guilty of this wrongdoing too. Nevertheless, through my Friday Food experiences, I experienced a change in my way of thinking. My Friday Food experiences transformed my attitude. I now affirm and celebrate the humanity of other people simply by responding to people.

During my experiences with Friday Food, I observed that many people’s families have basically abandoned them. In talking with people about their families, it appears that their families are no longer a part of their lives. I have met people who say that their family lives an hour away in Virginia or an hour away in Maryland, for example. With family members living so close, I would think that their families would help them, take them in, or do something so that their family member would not have to live on the streets.

During these conversations, I have wanted to ask more about people s family lives, but I have been hesitant to ask about what could be a potentially personal and sensitive subject. I see the families abandoning their relative as another form of injustice. People experiencing homelessness often have their basic human needs violated, and members of Friday Food work to provide for these needs.

I am glad that I choose to do Friday Food because it has enlightened me to many aspects of city living that I had not seen as clearly before. I have met some brave, kind, and wise people through my experiences.