Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, university campuses all over the United States have been going virtual in order to practice social distancing guidelines. While many organizations are currently taking a hiatus during this period, CGO is still meeting over Zoom! While the meetings are not organized in their usual fashion, the students of CGO are continuously keeping in touch with each other and maintaining the Carnegie Community.
Scott Warren, a human rights activist on migration issues and Arizona State University professor, came to the University of Oregon March 2020 to talk to Carnegies about his work in the Sonoran Desert near Arjo, Arizona where he provides aid to asylum seekers crossing the US-Mexico border. He established the advocacy group No Más Muertes (No More Deaths) which aspires to end the deaths of those crossing the border by supplying food, water, and additional aid.
While giving his talk, Scott Warren talked about his experiences in the Sonora desert with students and other No Más Muertes members as well as his experiences with the community members in the town of Arjo.
At this week’s CGO, Harley and Liana shared about their recent trip to the Notre Dame Peace Conference. Describing the weekend as empowering, they shared that they were most inspired by the research other students were doing and the fact that the conference was organized by a few undergrads, not unlike themselves. If this conference could be organized and implemented successfully, what else would they/us/we do?! As Harley and Liana witnessed firsthand and the rest of CGO heard through their stories, undergrads have the power to make a huge difference in a tangible way through creativity with grants and innovative research. Even simply through conversations and small actions, anyone can play a role in creating a more peaceful world.
Their favorite breakout sessions focused on military policy and conflict resolution in the Middle East and involved a panel including ROTC students, a priest, a Peace Studies professor, and a few Masters students from different fields. The focus of this conversation was on the compatibility of ethics with any discipline and the power of breeding ethics into the military. Outside of the conference, University of Notre Dame has keenly focused on that relationship and offers “Round Table Talks” with ROTC and Peace Studies students. These weekly lunches foster important discourse and allow learning to occur on behalf of all parties involved. All students involved described the experience as invaluable and encouraged other schools to start.
Another stand out from the conference was a student who was combining his passion for computer science with peace studies and was creating a program to study the success of peace accords based on public opinion. This student, along with the conference itself, stressed the importance of peace studies as syncretic with any other major or passion.
Harley and Liana returned to us with new energy, inspired to create more change in our community here at UO. Whether this takes the form of a similar conference at our very own university sometime in the future, round table talks, or simply more interdisciplinary dialogue about peace, out actions can make a difference to help create a “sea of peace.”
We look forward to sending more Carnegies to this conference in future years. Thank you Harley and Liana for sharing!
In our second meeting of Spring term and the first with CGO leaders Shaul and Leslie, our focused activity was meant to make us more of what created our moral / ethical foundations. The questions that were asked for this exercise included:
- Who is a person you are related to, immediate or extended family, has influenced your ethical views?
- Who is someone in your life, a friend or teacher et cetera, that has influenced your ethical views?
- Who is someone in the world that has influenced your ethical views?
- What institutions or groups has helped shape your ethical views?
- What type of text has influenced your ethical views?
- What sort of activity et cetera has influenced you?
While first answering these questions independently, we then split into groups of about five and shared our answers with each other to see the similarities and differences. For the first question, everyone could come up with an answer which ranged from parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins. As we moved onto the second and third question, people started to not have answers because as we discussed, it seemed that we were not able to connect with those we did not know. It seemed that we learned from those that we knew more personally such as family members.
For the questions 4-6, a common theme between my groups answers were institutions such as places of worship, holy books, and places that helped develop a sense of security.
After discussing these questions in our small group, we then opened these questions to the larger CGO group and shared what some of us said in our small groups. While some of the answers were similar to my group, it was great to hear who / what had influenced my fellow CGOers. For question number 3, I had not come up with an answer, but it was great to hear that people such as Nelson Mandela had helped shape people’s moral / ethical views.
Overall, I thought this exercise was a great way to actively think about who had helped shape our ethical / moral beliefs. For me personally, this is a huge part of who I am, and without the influence of my grandparents, I am not sure who I would be as a person today.
By: Colby Chuck, CGO 20
For the first time this year, Carnegies opted out of ritual Carson dinner and went to Ebbert United Methodist Church to help with the Wednesday night “Community Meal” dinner service. It was a great success and a fun way to get out in the community and really do some good. We helped prep, serve, and clean, giving a little break to the dedicated team of volunteers. Several Carnegies also mingled with the people who we were feeding, as there is a coffee half-hour prior to food service. Actually sitting down and talking with people who are homeless or food insecure was an eye-opening experience. These are people in our community, some of whom we recognized from around campus! Humanizing people by hearing their stories was humbling and inspiring. It diversifies the way we see people who are marginalized in our society.
All together, we served meals to 95 people, many of whom rely on this service to get their dinner and would otherwise be struggling to feed themselves and their family. Speaking to the organizers and Pastor, I could tell our energy and youthful faces were much appreciated by both the guests and the volunteers alike.
At the University, it is often easy to forget about the homelessness problem that plagues Eugene and Springfield. But this is a very real situation and there are many in our local community who need our help.
It was great experience to speak to the guests and hear their stories. To see what this service does for them and realize how privileged we are to never have to worry about where our next meal is coming from was something that stayed with all of us.
I look forward to going back soon!
“Volunteering with my friends and CGO members at the Ebbert United Methodist Church soup kitchen in Eugene was an awesome experience. It was great to be able to help and interact with people who are so often overlooked and avoided in our society. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and I am happy to say I had a lot of fun and I look forward to going back and being a part of it again.”
-Katrina Schmidt, ‘20
“Feeding the homeless is something I have always wanted to do, and having the opportunity to do it in a new community was an amazing experience. I felt that I was giving back to the Eugene/Springfield community, which had opened its doors to me as an out of state UO student. I hope to do the same once I return home.”
-BriAnna Greene, ‘20
Ebbert United Methodist Church provides meals Monday mornings (8-11 am), sack lunches Tuesday and Thursday (8-1) and the dinner service Wednesdays (5:30, doors open at 4:30)
If you are interested in getting involved or have any questions, you can email the church at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-746-3513.
The Common Reading for all incoming freshmen this year at the University of Oregon was Between the World and Me, by Te-Nehisi Coates. This profound book has initiated conversations around campus, particularly in the context of the current political climate. Coate’s UO talk was February 3rd, 2017.
Momo Wilms-Crowe has volunteered some reflections for the CGO as we lead up to what promises to be a profound speaker.
Between The World and Me: A Response
I read Between the World and Me for the first time over summer and I remember myself crying the type of tears that demand recognition. I read it again this past weekend in preparation for Te-Nehisi Coates’ upcoming talk and to no surprise, I cried again. I was reminded of the feeling I felt months ago, and that I feel often enough now after a term and a half in the CGO, that I am not all that surprised by it now. It is a the feeling of intense sadness and despair at the situation of our country and our world. The kind of feeling that grabs you by the shoulders, sits on your chest, and makes you feel small.
This feeling worries me because it implies an inability to act. It means, despite whatever I feel I need to do, I am not doing anything worthwhile. The task of how to best navigate the minefield of processing and moving forward is overwhelming. This is because I cannot imagine a way of moving forward what caused these injustices is so fundamentally wrong, and that is where my logic stops. This acute feeling and the lack of autonomy that ensues is unnerving.
In the racism Coates’ speaks about, like many of the injustices in America, the individual is the victim and “society” the victor, the perpetrator of the violence through its thoughtful machines and institutions. This makes the process of falling into cynicism and hopelessness even easier since the problem (and thus the solution) is seemingly distant and esoteric. It’s intimidating to begin to attack a beast that you do not understand nor can you even fully see. That is, of course, until something happens and you are personally pulled into the narrative and cannot stand still any longer. Often, I believe, we are only thrust into activism when we are personally affected by it and we lose the “privilege of living in ignorance” (Coates, 107). Experiencing injustice helps break the feeling of paralysis and propels one into action. Intense emotions- anger, grief, despair – fuel the fight for justice. And because each day people are suffering and being forced into these emotions, the fight continues as a whole.
In our society of social media and superficiality, it is increasingly easy to feel like you’re doing something when you are really doing nothing at all. Social media offers an amazing platform for spreading messages, and no doubt, change is often made this way. But it also breeds the idea that posting/tweeting/liking/sharing is doing enough. That ally-ship is a one-time duty and a box to check off rather than a constant practice. I am by no means claiming innocent to this crime, nor saying it must be considered a crime for everyone. The facade of passion in the absence of definite, tangible, action simply doesn’t cut it. It brings up the age-old struggle of “walking the talk.” In my mind, lack of action, despite the intentions, constitutes an action in itself. In Coates’ words, “‘Good intentions’ is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream” (33). The Dream Coaets’ refers to here is not an idyllic paradise, but the ignorance of living in a society built up slavery and violent racism.
I have no will to live a life in the Dream and have already had my share of experiences that have shattered that dream. In my high school, with enough students of color that I could count them on one hand, I was only passively taught about race and racism, and looked at it from a very academic viewpoint. I read personal monologues from slaves and analytically connected that to the differential incarceration rates of today’s America. I, however, never really experienced race in the way that Coates writes about.
I have never witnessed the full horrors that racism can cause nor the incredible strength that makes people continue forward despite the pain. Perhaps this is partly why it is I am so obviously affected by their stories.