Eve Marie Blasinsky wants to become a college professor some day, so she went to La Posada Providencia to gain experience teaching. In the unfathomable way ofProvidence, she wound up doing a lot of learning along the way. Her month-long stay as a volunteer was “challenging, really eye-opening” and may have changed her life more than she can appreciate right now.
“Every time I was about to make a generalization about a culture or a person, someone acted in a way totally different from what I expected,” she said. “I realize you can never really understand why a person says or does something until you understand their experience.”
Eve Marie, 19, learned about La Posada Providencia from Sister Cathy Frost, a member of the Sisters of Divine Providence, the community of Catholic Sisters that sponsors La Posada. When Sister Cathy related her own experiences to Eve Marie, “something about it drew me to it,” and Eve Marie began making plans to visit.
Most of Eve Marie’s time at La Posada was spent teaching English as a Second Language. At La Posada, clients not only speak many different languages and dialects, they have diverse educational histories. Some are college graduates; others have never been to school and are not literate in their first language. Eve Marie told the story of Felipe, fromHonduras. Because Felipe was from an indigenous group in a remote village, he spoke only his native tongue – no Spanish, let alone English. It took weeks for Felipe to master telling time, but when he did, Eve Marie shared in the joy and pride in his accomplishment.
A thoughtful, insightful young woman, Eve Marie found her outlook on many things changed because of her experience with the people at La Posada. “One day Sister Thérèse (Cunningham, La Posada’s onsite client mentor) was teaching the National Anthem and other patriotic songs. I heard all these voices from different continents, with different accents, and I realized I was the only person in the room who was lucky enough to have been born in theUnited States. Those songs mean something different to me now.”
Program Director Sister Zita Telkamp admires Eve Marie’s willingness to learn and adjust. “As Eve Marie entered her ‘new world’ – the world of La Posada – I admired her adjusting so beautifully as she made new discoveries, for instance, conserving water by washing dishes in a pan and using the water to give flowers a drink; hanging her laundry outdoors on the clothesline; partaking at each meal of beans and rice – the staple foods of the majority of our clients; and most importantly, teaching a group of four or five clients on different levels at the same time – which requires the skills of a magician!”
Eve Marie’s understanding of immigration is different today. “I can feel homesick when I’m away from my family, but it’s not like it is for them,” she says. “I can go home; most of them cannot. I know I will see my family again when it’s time; they may not. It’s lonely and scary for them. It’s definitely not easy.”
Listening to the stories of people fromSomalia,HondurasandPoland, Eve Marie gained new appreciation for her life in theUnited States. She is horrified by the cruelty people can inflict on others, citing as an exampleSomalia, where there is no safety because of violence between clans. She told the story of a young man who was first in his high school class but was not allowed to go on to the university because he was from the “wrong” clan.
It was precisely because of what she learned about how people live in other countries that made Eve Marie value La Posada. “It’s an important place,” she said. “It’s a safe haven for people while they work on the process of legal immigration. It helps them with paperwork, the language, life skills. It is a resting spot before they start their new lives.”