Josh at SMU
SMU Spirit

This weekend has been filled with the sort of spirit that energizes you.  Yesterday I attended the Meet and Greet and the Presidents Gala here at SMU as a student representative of ASSMU.  It was an amazing experience, seeing all of these people here on campus to support this amazing university, and to have such a big name celebrity chef to help raise it was spectacular.  The people actually came up to students to get to know them, and wanted to hear our stories about why they came here and what we wanted to do in our lives.  We also had two great student representatives gives talks at the Gala, and that I believe made all the difference.  Hearing from the students, having the students welcome them to the campus, thanking them for being there, and telling their remarkable stories moved the guest into donating $760,000 to the university to be used for student scholarships!  What and amazing thing to happen!  This event truly was about the students, and Guy Fieri, the celebrity chef, also made that known.  It truly was an honor to be able to help out at this event and witness it for myself.

Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.  Not because of the candy or the dressing up (though for sure those are definitely pluses) but because of the spiritual, supernatural, and religious aspects of it.  Halloween is All Hallows Eve, a time in the Christian faith where we pray for the souls of those in Purgatory to be able to accept God’s forgiveness and be let into the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is a time in the Supernatural sense where the veil between the underworld and earth is weakened, and the spirits of the dead can walk the earth.  Where the Supernatural beings, and black magic become stronger.  It is the time of year, where anything mystical and/or spiritual gains a boost, and anything can happen.  But lets be honest.  Unless you are a complete geek/nerd (I am guilty myself of being), you are in it for the costumes and candy, which admittedly, it is fun to dress up, eat candy, watch a few scary movies, and go over to a friends house to celebrate.  I hope everyone had a safe Halloween!  Until next year!

Relationships

Relationships are a huge topic in college, and statistics show that you are more likely to meet your life long friends and suture spouse in college than anywhere else.  In this blog, I am merely focusing on the dating aspect of relationships in the sense of what it can do with the friends of those who are “dating” or about to “date”. This one will be short because I have to study for a midterm, but I am in one of those moods where if I do not write it down, I will forget about it.

Friends probably know you better then you know yourself, or at least know an aspect of yourself better then you do. I remember learning in my human relations class back in high school that, “If your parents or your friends do not like the person you are with or about to date, you better listen to that, because they have your best interest at heart and know you better than anyone else.” Now I know some of you who are reading this may think that your friends might be over-reacting and that you are a grown person who can make up your own mind, and this may be true, and it also true that you are an individual and you can make your own decisions in the end; you do have free will after all. However, you should take into consideration what your friends say. If I was dating someone, and my friends did not approve, I would seriously think about why I was in the relationship. Think of it this way: would you rather have 1 spouse, or 2 friends? I for one would rather have friends. Friends will always be there for you, and you can count on them. You will always have friends. You may not, however, always have a spouse and/or significant other. I have been in relationships before, both good and bad, and I am not friends with some of those who I have dated, but I am still friends with those friends who were there with me during those times. Relationships are great, but friends are even better. Now I am not saying that one should never be in a romantic relationship. Hell, I miss being in one. But I would take being single for the rest of my life and keeping my friends, then losing all my friends for some person who may or may not stick with me to the end.

Brandon

Today is our dear friend Brandon Pellerin’s 21st birthday.  It was a day to celebrate the life an memory of this amazing young man.  He touched many peoples lives, and his presence is missed on this campus.  But he would not want is to dwell in the sadness, but revel in his legacy of love, leadership, and laughter.  We must do this, so that others can know him.  They may not know his name, or have ever met him, but just by living life the way Brandon did, we will be making sure he will continue to touch the lives of many.  As a quote from one of my favorite movies (Gladiator) states, “What we do in life lives on for eternity.”  By choosing at least one characteristic of Brandon’s that stuck out to you, influenced you, or that you admired, and sharing it with others, we will make sure that stays true.  He deserves that, and everyone deserves to experience the love, leadership, and laughter of Brandon.

Love and Religion

In a world so full of hate due to the differences between us, whether that be due to race, language, or beliefs, I believe it is time to get back down to the basics, and remember what connects us rather than what separates us.

When I was a junior in high school, I had the privilege and good fortune to go see the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu give a seminar on the similarities between different faiths.  They had representatives from Hinduism, Judaism, Zen, Christianity, and others.  All of them were given a question, and each one had to answer in the way their particular faith would answer the question, and it was outstanding and heartwarming to hear how similar each answer was.  It showed not only the power of each faith, but the unification of all of them.  It showed how we are all connected, and that I believe is very important.

Now myself, I am Catholic, but that does not mean I am not open to learning about other faiths, nor that I am closed minded to not consider their view points on some issues.  What I do believe is that I can see God’s presence in each faith.

I am reminded every Easter that Jesus sacrificed himself, out of love, so save us from our sins.  I am reminded that God is Love, the embodiment of Love.  That right there is important to remember.  God said those who follow me will join me in Heaven.  If God is love, then if you love, you follow God and His message.  Jesus states that the golden rule is to, “Love God with all your heart and soul, and to Love your neighbor as yourself.”  And if you do so, you are following love, and following God’s teaching.  Every major religion has an equivalent of the golden rule, and their followers are asked to follow it.  Not only that, it is just common sense to “treat one another as how you would want to be treated.”  It is not rocket science, though at times while watching the news it may seem that way.

I do not see why we all can’t get along.  If in Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, and other faiths are asked to treat each other with dignity and respect, asked to love each other, than why can’t we?  The Dalai Lama stated at the seminar that his religion was not Buddhism, but Love, and Desmond Tutu and the other representatives there stated the same.  Now that my friends, is a miracle, and one I hope to see happen worldwide.  Though, I am sad to say, I may not see in my life time, but hey, where there is light, there is hope.

From CRS to SeaTac: Road back home

Imagine if you will a gravel road with rundown old camp houses along either side.  That was the road up to the Jesuit Retreat Center.  I thought I was on the scene of a Friday the 13th movie.  You know the movie with Jason,the guy with the hockey mask and machete.  However, once we got the the retreat center, all that worry left.  It was a beautiful retreat center, with great company.

Deacon Joe, who lead the retreat, along with Ted who is a CRS Rep from Baltimore and an intern, where great resources of information.  They gave great presentations, especially Ted who was very lively and interactive.  Deacon Joe was a great source of information on what CRS does, and what sort of activities have happened in the past that us student ambassadors can do on our campuses.  However, in all honesty, the best sources of information were the other campus ambassadors.  For some it was their 2nd or 3rd year, others like me, it was our first.  But what was nice is that the veteran ambassadors would tell us what strategies would work, which ones wouldn’t work, and what new ideas they had.  All the ambassadors were outgoing, fun, and very friendly.  I can honestly say I have made 20 new friends this trip.

Speaking of friendships, after the retreat was over, I was able to meet up with an old friend, Emily.  I have not seen her in 9 years.  We gave each other the biggest hug in the world when we first saw each other.  It felt as though it was only yesterday when we were scrawny little 6th graders.  We caught up, reminisced on old times, and got up to speed with each other. It is truly amazing how two people who had not seen each other for almost a decade can still have so much in common, both in interests and personality traits.  It truly was bittersweet when she had to drop me off at the airport.

Overall, it was an amazing trip, and it is not goodbye with my friends, both the old and new ones, but until next time.

Road to Sacramento

After a 2 hr nap, hitching a ride at 5 am to SeaTac, and going through security, here I sit at one of the million of Starbucks in SeaTac sipping on my Tall Nonfat Vanilla Latte, and prepping for the conference.

I don’t really know what to expect from this trip.  Sure I have an outline for what I am doing at the retreat center, and I know that on Sunday I will be seeing an old friend from elementary school, but that does not truly mean that you know what is going to happen, or what you are going to get out of the trip.  However, there are a few things I do expect.  I expect that I am going to meet a lot of new friends, and make some connections that will be great. I expect that I will come back to school with some new ideas that can benefit the school.  I also expect that I am going to have a blast in the 80 degree weather that is supposed to be hovering over Cali this weekend.

More updates to come!  Stay posted ^_^

Sacramento

Well, Friday I am off to Sacramento to a conference with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).  The best way to explain CRS for people who do not know what it is, is that it is the Catholic version of the Peace Core, AmeriCore, etc.  Saint Martin’s University has decided to have a Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassador, and Father Peter (Poppa Pete) asked if I would be that Ambassador.

I have not been back to California since I moved up to Washington 9 years ago.  I had grown up in Orange County from the time I was 4 till I was 12.  It will be nice to be back down in the state where I had my childhood, as well as work with other student ambassadors and Catholic Relief Services leaders.