Take a Second Glance, San Jose
Megan Michel '18
In the words of Kayla Wells ‘16, we have “built an environment where we pass by things without a second glance.” Wells is the current program manager for immersions at the Ignatian Center and recently led one of the immersion trips offered over spring break. This trip gave her and current Santa Clara students the opportunity to downtown San Jose and show them the social justice issues prevalent in the local area.
The San Jose Immersion trip gives students a glimpse into the current homeless population’s lack of access to resources, as well as the lack of funding our system provides. By going on a local trip, students experience firsthand the injustices that are present in our community and learn tangible actions on how to fight back against the systemic problems, take action, and help those affected by homelessness. One problem in particular is the inherent bias against homelessness in Silicon Valley due to cultural perceptions of wealth and success. People tend to believe that those who are homeless in this area are so because of their own preventable behavior or actions. However, this often is not the case--there is much more to their stories and lives than meets the eye.
San Jose currently has the fifth highest homeless population in the United States. On the trip to San Jose, students get the opportunity to work with some of the various nonprofits and resources that are in place to resolve this problem. Although there is much poverty and supression in San Jose, there are some nonprofit organizations that truly make an impact on the local community. For example, Recovery Cafe works on helping people experiencing homelessness, mental health, and addiction problems “develop tools and access other community resources for stabilizing recovery.” One woman interviewed on the recent San Jose immersion trip summed up her experience at Recovery Cafe with the following statement: the “streets that hurt me are now the streets that heal me.” The city of San Jose has resources in place such as Sacred Heart Community Service, Recovery Cafe, and soup kitchens. However, none of these institutions are government-based and there is little political action being taken.
In order to help solve the problem of homelessness, fix the socioeconomic status of the homeless population in San Jose, and encourage the government to invest resources in the problem, we must fight for a more sustainable environment. As members of society, businesses, and the environment, this includes us, the students, faculty, and staff of Santa Clara University. We encourage any member of the campus population to look into the wide array of immersion trips offered to learn about social justice issues happening in our local area and around the world.
Jul 6, 2017
San Jose man pulling shopping cart with a number of bags attached and piled on top.