Karen Dazols graduated from SCU in 2004 with a degree in English. As a DISCOVER Ministry Intern, she worked with underprivileged children in rural Kentucky.
As a DISCOVER intern, I had the privi- lege of working as a counselor at a camp for underprivileged children in rural Eastern Kentucky. I left my California comfort zone and ventured into the foothills of Appalachia, leaving behind my cell phone, car, access to email, malls, fast food, and trips to Blockbuster to find a new world of canoes, fish- ing poles, hiking trails, campfires, a lake, and arts and crafts. I experienced God’s grace and presence in the lush greenery, the glow of lightning bugs, the sound of cannon-ball splashes in the pool, and most of all, in all the sticky little fingers of the children at camp.
Abra, one beautiful 8-year-old girl with especially sticky fingers, was a particularly powerful reminder of God’s grace. Late one night she, my friend Louis, and I walked up from the field towards the cabins as it was nearing bed- time. Abra was unusually quiet, and I sensed that this precocious child had something on her mind. The three of us were all holding hands: Abra was in the middle, her arms stretched high above her head, swinging back and forth, back and forth. But suddenly, she repositioned us. She took my left hand and slid it into Louis’, then walked around and took my right hand in hers. Louis and I exchanged glances, as we wondered what was going on in that little brain of hers. Abra suddenly enlightened us.
“Look,” she said. “Now we’re a family.”
It was only later that I was able to process the profound impact that Abra and I had both had on each other. She was a completely unexpected gift, someone I will probably never see again, but who has forever imprinted on my memory this gesture of love. She so simply implied the importance of family, the need for attention, the impact of trust and human touch. All of the kids at camp taught me love, patience, understanding, and compassion, and I left camp secure in the fact that I want to dedicate my energies to working with children. But most of all, Abra’s hands touched me very deeply, shaping and molding the person I am and hope to become.
All of the kids at camp taught me love, patience, understanding, and compassion, and I left camp secure in the fact that I want to dedicate my energies to working with children.
I will soon begin a volunteer placement with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Sitka, Alaska, where I will be working as a children’s outreach worker at a family violence shelter. I will also be working for the Sitka School District, implementing a substance abuse and domestic violence program for children in grades K-12. I am excited to once again leave California to explore somewhere new. I will bring with me not only the values and experiences I have gained during my time at Santa Clara University —but the gift of wisdom I received from a sticky-fingered little girl named Abra.comments powered by Disqus
With the publication of this issue of explore, I would like to communicate my delight in being able to serve as Executive Director of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education. Having taught at Santa Clara since 2003, with a joint appointment in the Religious Studies and Classics Departments, I believe deeply in the kind of transformative education Santa Clara provides. Moreover, I am committed to nurturing a vision that will sustain Jesuit education for generations to come. Read More