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Casa News & Events

  •  Learning about "Happiness"

    Friday, Sep. 20, 2013
  •  World's Happiest People are Latin Americans

    Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

    The world's happiest people aren't in Qatar, the richest country by most measures. They aren't in Japan, the nation with the highest life expectancy. Canada, with its chart-­topping percentage of college graduates, doesn't make the top 10. A poll released recently of nearly 150,000 people around the world says seven of the world's 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America. 

    Many of the seven do poorly in traditional measures of well-­being, like Guatemala, a country torn by decades of civil war followed by waves of gang-­driven criminality that give it one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Guatemala sits just above Iraq on the United Nations' Human Development Index, a composite of life expectancy, education and per capita income. But it ranks seventh in positive emotions.

    "In Guatemala, it's a culture of friendly people who are always smiling," said Luz Castillo, a 30-year-old surfing instructor. "Despite all the problems that we're facing, we're surrounded by natural beauty that lets us get away from it all."

     Gallup Inc. asked about 1,000 people in each of 148 countries last year if they were well-­rested, had been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment the previous day.

    In Panama and Paraguay, 85 percent of those polled said yes to all five, putting those countries at the top of the list. They were followed closely by El Salvador, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, Guatemala, the Philippines, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

    The people least likely to report positive emotions lived in Singapore, the wealthy and orderly city-­state that ranks among the most developed in the world. Other wealthy countries also sat surprisingly low on the list. Germany and France tied with the poor African state of Somaliland for 47th place.

    Prosperous nations can be deeply unhappy ones. And poverty-­stricken ones are often awash in positivity, or at least a close approximation of it.

    It's a paradox with serious implications for a relatively new and controversial field called happiness economics that seeks to improve government performance by adding people's perceptions of their satisfaction to traditional metrics such as life expectancy, per capita income and graduation rates.

    The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan famously measures policies by their impact on a concept called Gross National Happiness. British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a national well­being program in 2010 as part of a pledge to improve Britons' lives in the wake of the global recession. A household survey sent to 200,000 Britons asks questions like "How satisfied are you with your life nowadays?"

    The Organization for Economic Co-­operation and Development, which unites 34 of the world's most advanced countries, recently created a Better Life Index allowing the public to compare countries based on quality of life in addition to material well-­being. Some experts say that's a dangerous path that could allow governments to use positive public perceptions as an excuse to ignore problems. As an example of the risks, some said, the Gallup poll may have been skewed by a Latin American cultural proclivity to avoid negative statements regardless of how one actually feels.

    "My immediate reaction is that this influenced by cultural biases," said Eduardo Lora, who studied the statistical measurement of happiness as the former chief economist of the Inter-­American Development Bank

    "What the empirical literature says is that some cultures tend to respond to any type of question in a more positive way," said Lora, a native of Colombia, the 11th most-positive country. For the nine least positive countries, some were not surprising, like Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Haiti. For others at the bottom, Armenia at the second lowest spot, Georgia and Lithuania, misery is something a little more ephemeral.

    "Feeling unhappy is part of the national mentality here," said Agaron Adibekian, a sociologist in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. "Armenians like being mournful? there have been so many upheavals in the nation's history. The Americans keep their smiles on and avoid sharing their problems with others. And the Armenians feel ashamed about being successful." 

    The United States was No. 33 in positive outlook. Latin America's biggest economies, Mexico and Brazil, sat more than 20 places further down the list.

    Jon Clifton, a partner at Gallup, acknowledged the poll partly measured cultures' overall tendency to express emotions, positive or negative. But he said skeptics shouldn't undervalue the expression of positive emotion as an important phenomenon in and of itself.

    "Those expressions are a reality, and that's exactly what we're trying to quantify," he said. "I think there is higher positive emotionality in these countries."

    Some Latin Americans said the poll hit something fundamental about their countries: a habit of focusing on posivites such as friends, family and religion despite daily lives that can be grindingly difficult.

    Carlos Martinez sat around a table with 11 fellow construction workers in a Panama City restaurant sharing a breakfast of corn empanadas, fried chicken and coffee before heading to work on one of the hundreds of new buildings that have sprouted during a yearslong economic boom driven in large part by the success of the Panama Canal. The boom has sent unemployment plunging, but also increased traffic and crime.

    Martinez pronounced himself unhappy with rising crime but "happy about my family."

    "Overall, I'm happy because this is a country with many natural resources, a country that plays an important role in the world," he said. "We're Caribbean people, we're people who like to celebrate, to eat well and live as well as we can. There are a lot of possibilities here, you just have to sacrifice a little more."

    Singapore sits 32 places higher than Panama on the Human Development Index, but at the opposite end of the happiness list. And things weren't looking good Wednesday to Richard Low, a 33-­year-­old businessman in the prosperous Asian metropolis.

    "We work like dogs and get paid peanuts. There's hardly any time for holidays or just to relax in general because you're always thinking ahead: when the next deadline or meeting is. There is hardly a fair sense of work-­life balance here," he said.

    In Paraguay, tied with Panama as the most-­positive country while doing far worse than Panama by objective measures, street vendor Maria Solis said tough economic conditions were no reason to despair.

    "Life is short and there are no reasons to be sad because even if we were rich, there would still be problems," she said while selling herbs used for making tea. "We have to laugh at ourselves."

    www.ctvnews.ca/world/world-s-happiest?people?are-latin-americans-1.1086439

  •  Casa Alumni Participate in Jesuit Solidarity Network

    Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012

    In November more than twenty Casa alums gathered in Washington DC for the annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.  The Teach-In is an opportunity for students and educators from Jesuit high schools and universities across the country to come together for a weekend and share how they and their schools are striving to be "men and women for others."  Casa alumni from both El Salvador and the Philippines helped to table throughout the weekend and speak with interested students about their experience studying abroad.  The alums also got together Friday night and shared pizza and a small reflectionabout transitioning back to the states.  Casa alums Laura Snowden (Santa Clara University) and Beth Keenan (St. Joseph's University) gave one of the keynote speeches about their time in El Salvador and learning about the history of Salvadoran martyrs.  It was a wonderful weekend and a great reminder that studying abroad with Casa does not end after just a semester; it is an gateway to the greater Jesuit network and all those who work for justice!

  •  Summer Program

    Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012

    The summer program focuses on health care and public health in El Salvador and provides students with a unique opportunity to integrate direct immersion with people living in poor communities (praxis sites) and academic study. This intensive program will focus on what the health problems are in El Salvador, why the country has these health issues, and how they are being handled from both a medical response to disease and public health programs, which try to reduce the frequency of disease before people need medical care.

    Students participate in two academic courses: Health Care and Public Health in El Salvador and either Advanced or Conversational Spanish. These courses are designed to intentionally integrate students’ experience in their praxis site with the academic discipline.

    Requirements

    In order to apply, students must:

    1. Be in good academic standing at their home university

    2.Posses an intermediate level of Spanish (minimum of 2 Spanish courses at the university level)

    3.Desire to be immersed in local poor communities (praxis site) and have that experience be integrated with academic classes

    4.Recognize the importance of being culturally sensitive

    Program Dates

    June 15th (Arrival)- July 14th (Departure)

    Cost

    The cost of an SCU 8- quarter credit summer program in 2012-13 was $5,536.  

    2013-14 costs will be available in spring of 2013.

  •  Living in Barangka

    Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012

    A unique and special feature of Casa Bayanihan is the Barangka neighborhood in which student homes are located. The community is often bustling with activity, from vendors selling food in the early mornings to kids playing energetically in the park each afternoon. The nature of the neighborhood allows for deep learning and relationships to form between community members and Casa students. As a way of celebrating and strengthening these relationships, Casa Bayanihan and the Barangka neighborhood recently shared a community gathering (called a Kamustahan) in the local park. The community opened the celebration by leading a rosary outside of the Mama Mary statue at the edge of the park. Mama Mary is the name affectionately given to the Virgin Mary in the Philippines. As a way of honoring the park as a place of gathering, the Casa and Barangka community decorated the statue with fresh flowers. Then, everyone participated in lively games before sharing merienda. It wouldn't be a complete Filipino party without a delicious treat! The Kamustahan is just one way of deepening the relationship between Casa Bayanihan and the Barangka community. Simple, daily interactions are just as valuable as organized events, and Casa students and staff often enjoy playing in the park with the kids and conversing with community members as they walk through the neighborhood.

  •  Here from SLU Alum

    Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012
    Dear SLU students,
     
    Hello and greetings from the Philippines! As a SLU graduate and a current Community Coordinator with Casa Bayanihan, I'm extending a warm invitation to consider studying with us in the Philippines! Living and working in the Philippines has already been a rich experience of cultural surprises, hospitable welcomes into the Filipino communities, and continued questions of how to respond to the realities we see around us. If you too have felt a similar tug to further immerse yourself in the diversities of a new culture as I did, then I encourage you to simply pay attention to it. As you consider what a semester in the Philippines may mean for you, please know that the Casa Bayanihan staff and praxis communities are all ready to welcome you warmly into our community here. Together we share a lot of energy around creating an experience that challenges students in the right ways and always supports them individually and communally. During my short amount of time here in the Philippines, I'm already discovering a culture that celebrates life deeply, even in the midst of harsh realities. It's the kind of daily life that's hard not to want to share with others. So, please know that we'd love to share life with you here in the Philippines! Feel free to contact me with any follow up questions, as I'm happy to accompany you through your discernment of studying with the Casa. 
     
    Salamat!
     
    Sarah Young
     
  •  Here from Marquette Alum

    Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012

    Dear Marquette Students,

    Greetings from the Philippines! I am a 2011 graduate of Marquette University, and in my time at MU I had the great privilege of studying abroad with the Casa Educational Network.

    For the past year and a half, I have been working with the Casa staff—moving from El Salvador to my current life and job in the Philippines. I wanted to reach out to you as Marquette students to tell you about the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in this unique and remarkable program, Casa Bayanihan.

    Casa Bayanihan is a cultural immersion into the beautiful, gritty reality of life in the Philippines. It is a chance to experience a new culture, live in an intentional and holistic community, stretch your mind beyond boundaries and borders, and learn more about how we all fit into this mysterious and, at times, challenging, world. I invite you to come to the casa. To experience the joy, the reality, the Philippines. If you want to learn more or APPLY, please visit the program site: (http://www.scu.edu/casa/bayanihan/) OR our new Casa Bayanihan tumblr page (http://casabayanihan.tumblr.com/). Pictures, videos and real life experiences tell the story much better than I could on my own!

    Gratitude and Peace,

    Sullivan Oakley

    Marquette University, 2011

  •  Casa co-director is visiting Marquette University!

    Wednesday, Sep. 5, 2012

    If you are in Milwaukee or have some friends there, please, spread the word!!

    Kevin Yonkers-Talz, co-director of Casa de la Solidaridad is promoting Casa Programs!

    Please, join to us in some activities:

    Thursday, September 6th, 2012
    4:00pm Information Session for Casa programs, @ Holthusen Hall (4th Floor).
    6:00pm Alumni Dinner @ Riverfront Pizzeria Bar & Grill (509 E Erie St Milwaukee, WI 53201).

    Friday, September 7th, 2012
    12:00m-2:00pm Study Abroad Fair @ West Towne Square, AMU.


    Feel free to share this information with friends, MU students, other Casa alumni or Faculty!

  •  “El ejemplo” | Remembering Oscar Romero

    Friday, Mar. 30, 2012

    Written by John Byrd

    Published on www.ignatiansolidarity.net

    During our time together in Mariona, my new friends Oti and Aida have filled many hours sharing their memories of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The strong hug he provided in a time of struggle. His homilies echoing from every radio in town. Even the horrors that they encountered at his funeral.  But, as we shared a cup of coffee in a small room of Oti’s house, I asked them for a few words to describe this man and they both had to pause for a moment. “… love… solidarity… a voice for the voiceless… the fight… the defender of the poor…” As I listened to these two women speak, one word resounded in my mind “ejemplo.”

    Archbishop Romero was, and continues to be, an example for those of us who desire to live our lives oriented toward social justice.  He placed himself firmly on the side of the poor and took their struggles to be his own.  He used his privilege and strength as the head of the Church of San Salvador to call for a more just nation.  He listened intently to the needs and desires of poor and suffering Salvadorans and he responded not only in words but in deeds.  During his three years as Archbishop, Monsignor Romero lived simply, prayed constantly, and refused to compromise his morals.

    Reflecting on my situation as a student at a Jesuit university, I have begun to see that this man exemplifies all of the qualities this education tries to foster in me.  I heard the phrases “men and women for and with others,” and “the preferential option for the poor” a thousand times since I was in high school but it was when Oti and Aida spoke of the Monsignor that I fully realized what this sort of life looks like. My hope is that I will be able to convert this new understanding and follow the example Archbishop Oscar Romero has set when I return home from this semester at the Casa de la Solidaridad in El Salvador.

     “…amor… solidaridad… Voz de los sin voces… lucha… defender de los pobres…”

    John Byrd with praxis site partners, Shannon and Brianne, at Mariona.
  •  Images from Casa Bayanihan

    Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

    After a month in the Philippines, students have immersed into the Filipino reality and have started to develop friendship ties. Here is a gallery of them in different communities.