The Topics

The Latest

Articles by Amanda Bergeron

RefugeeOne at DePaul

​The Vincentian mission is stressed from day one at DePaul. Giving back and continuing a mission of service are both very big characteristics that define the DePaul community. Unfortunately, I am such a busy bee that I find it difficult to go on mission trips or volunteering excursions during the school year. Thankfully, the DePaul students and faculty make it easy to be a part of charitable efforts by organizing on-campus events. 

The one event that I really loved so far this school year was conveniently held in the Student Center. 

In collaboration with RefugeeOne​, the Arabic Language and Culture Club, and Students Organize for Syria at DePaul University, DePaul was hosting a winter clothing drive to collect warm clothes for new refugee families! They collected clothing items for weeks! 

Collection Box locations:

- Lincoln Park Student Center - Under the stairs on the west side of the building

- Loop campus on the 11th floor of the DePaul Center 

What we are asking for:

- Winter coats

- Gloves, hats, scarves, mittens

- Boots! 

​Through this event I became curious about what RefugeeOne is and how the work their organization does effect the city I live in. Every year, RefugeeOne assists approximately 2,500 refugees and immigrants of all ages, ethnic groups, faiths and backgrounds to find housing, learn the English language, acclimate to American culture, develop computer and job readiness skills, secure employment, obtain medical care, apply for citizenship, and develop overall family strengthening skills.

I feel honored to be a part of a student body that takes time to give back. With RefugeeOne guiding the way we create opportunity for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution to build new lives of safety, dignity, and self-reliance.
If you are interested in getting involved with volunteer or mission trips, check out the site for the Vincentian Community Service Office.


Sister Helen Prejean

One of the best things about DePaul is the mass amount of speakers and established socialites that come and discuss their ambitions and lives with the students. Most of the time you do not have to RSVP to events but if the flyer asks for than it is a must! Most of the events I’ve attended were in the Student Center conference room or Cortelyou Commons​. Both of these facilities can hold many many people, and the events I’ve seen stem from a gender quality activist to a student run amateur drag show.

One of my goals for this quarter as well as upcoming school year is to attend more DePaul events. The most recent one I have seen was on a whim, but I’m more than glad that I attended. I had the honor of being in the presence of Sister Helen Prejean​. Although at first I did not recognize this name, once I looked deeper into who she was it hit me that she is a very influential person in the subject of the death penalty. She wrote Dead Man Walking which was turned into the award winning film featuring Sean Penn. Although this topic was pretty heavy for a sunny weekday afternoon, I knew that this was a prime opportunity to learn more about a subject that I am not well-versed in.

Before Sister went on stage there was an exhibition. The room was filled with hand written letters from the Stateville Correctional Center​. This series of letters was called “Why My Life Matters”. Most of the letters were background information about the convicted person, and appeals to bring back the parole board. Many of the letters were very well written and extremely thorough. This in particular gave me a huge reality check because the letters were written a month ago behind bars while I stand and read them sipping on a latte with the freedom to walk right out of there if I wanted too. On the floor of the room was scotch tape outlining the actual length and width of a prison cell. Just another tid-bit of information that further makes me realize the conditions prisoners live in.​

Sister Helen Prejean spoke for less than an hour, but she was extremely adamant about cultivating conversation about the topic with us, instead of just talking AT us. She had a panel discussion and invited people from the audience to come up to the microphone and answer questions. After a question had been asked she didn’t straight out answer it, but rather asked other members of the audience what they thought. I thought this tactic was warm and inviting and made everyone comfortable with talking about such a dark topic.

After the session as over, I felt like I knew more about the morality of punishment and the United States’ justice system. Sister Prejean has not only inspired the film industry, but also inspired conversation and change in the way people view the death sentence.

More events can be listed at the site here​.

Afterwards I bought a copy of her book and had it signed! Talk about an evening well spent. ​


SOUL

SHOUT OUT to my big hearted roommates, Carly and Kat, for being a part of the student run organization SOUL. Speaking Out as Unified Leaders (SOUL) is a volunteer operation that provides the south side youth at Langford Academy a positive outlet through art and writing. SOUL provides the 6th-8th grade students the opportunity to explore various forms of expression and are encouraged to use these expressions in their community to create positive change. 


Although you have the option to be a member OR a mentor, participants in SOUL are highly encouraged to be a mentor and work hands on with the kids instead of just showing up to the weekly meeting.

SOUL is a prime example of DePaul’s Vincentian values. Through creative writing and public speaking, the youth will learn about themselves, the community, and how they fit into their community. SOUL’s core goal is to give the marginalized youth a safe place to express themselves and help them reach their full potential.

The mentors in SOUL go to Langford every Friday to work with the marginalized youth. They use a creative arts based curriculum paired with critical thinking to help prepare the students for high school and beyond. Topics discussed include food deserts, gang violence, racism, and events going on in the community.

One of the main reasons I chose DePaul is because of the importance they put on doing service work. These values and opportunities create a passionate and heartfelt community. What are you doing for change?