It’s hard to believe that today was our last day of service in Camden. It has truly been an eye-opening experience; the people that we have met, the relationships we have formed, and the knowledge we have gained will hopefully carry through with us for the rest of our lives. I don’t think that I am alone in saying that I was a bit uneasy upon my arrival to Camden, after hearing all of the negative comments that people had to say about the city. How many of these people who were so quick to judge a place and its residents had actually taken the time to get to know “those people” that live in Camden? I have heard from many residents of Camden throughout the week that people are very quick to turn a blind eye to Camden and the issues that this area faces. The Romero Center has been really great in providing our ASB team with educational speakers/activities to help open our eyes and get us thinking about what the underlying causes of these issues are. As a nation, we are guilty of allowing¬† inequalities to be perpetuated; we need to do more than just ‘charity.’ Father Bob McDermott, the pastor here at St. Joseph’s in Camden, said something the other night that really stuck with me: “Charity is good, and something that we should all do…but justice is better.” A¬† just nation is something that I wholeheartedly believe we should be (and are) working towards. This trip is one step forward in an effort towards a more just nation; we have become more educated and aware of issues that citizens of our country face on a daily basis and what we can do to improve these situations. Personally, I have become more aware of an issue that I never really thought much about as an ‘issue’ so to speak: loneliness. I have learned that the mere action of being present and a listening ear can really make all of the difference. At Wiley House, a day care center for the elderly and people with disabilities, I approached an older man who was sitting alone at a table and talked to him for a little while. He lived alone at his home, and came to the center just to be around other people and to have something to do. At the end of our conversation, he told me how thankful that I took the time to talk to him. He was so appreciative of what seemed like such a simple act. The elderly are all too often ignored by our society, and often by their families, as well. The loneliness that they must face is a hardship that I can not even imagine. Honestly, I could go on and on about this trip, but our team is getting ready to listen to a speaker in a few minutes so I will restrain myself. ASB Camden has truly been an awesome experience and I can’t wait to get back to Lafayette and tell everyone about it!

-Steph