Each term, one participant from each HECUA program takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Elle Nelson is HECUA’s student blogger for the Inequality in America program this fall. Elle is a student at Bethel University, majoring in Biology and Reconciliation Studies. Read on her for final post!
It’s Friday, December 13th, 2019. HECUA seems to have come and gone in one swift blur. That’s not the truth, though. HECUA will never be gone. My being will never lose the imprint that HECUA gave me this semester. I truly will never be the same person that I was just a few short months ago, and for that, I could not be more grateful.
I sit here and write this final goodbye to my HECUA friends after my fair share of “letting the holy water flow” (Julia refers to tears/crying as holy water). I really had no idea that I was in for such a rich and transformational experience when I worked hard to fit HECUA into my four-year plan.
Today was our last day of class, a retreat day. At the end of the day, some people started getting sentimental and voicing their thanks to Phil and the class for the wonderful semester. I myself chose not to speak up. I knew I would fall apart. I have so much love and appreciation for the family I met this semester and what they all taught me. On that note, I think I’ll voice my thanks here, from the comfort of my keyboard.
First, I would like to thank the people who work behind the scenes for HECUA to make everything happen. I think maybe you all must feel unseen and under-appreciated at times since you don’t have much contact with the students you work hard for. Maybe you don’t, but if you do… I want to take a moment here to say I acknowledge that it must take loads of work to make a program like this happen. So, thank you. Thank you for the work you do to make these groups of students, who are strangers, into families. Your work is worth it. Really, really worth it. Take it from me, a real person whose life has been touched by your work.
Phil, Julia and Marie, (instructors and community faculty), thank you for showing up with your stories and wisdom to teach us about what many people aren’t even willing to talk about. You all bring something so special to your work.
Phil, you are the most self-aware, intentional and dedicated man I think I’ve ever encountered. Your love for your students shines from the very moment they walk into your class. I know I felt it right away. Thank you for taking time out of your day to meet with me at a coffee shop when I was processing some things. Thank you for caring so deeply.
Julia, honestly, I could write a three-hour speech on how inspiring you are to me. You were the first point of contact I ever had to HECUA and I knew right away that something about you felt a lot like home. You have shown me what it can look like to live true to yourself and tell your stories along the way. My favorite gold nugget of knowledge from Julia is that, according to scientific research, swearing actually helps relieve pain and is healthy. Julia makes sure that most people she comes across learn this nifty little fact. Thank you, Julia, for sharing your stories, your songs, your poems, your hugs and your love with all of us Inequality in America students this semester.
Marie, thank you for showing up for us this semester and for jumping into our group so gracefully. I know you weren’t around every day but I want you to know that you still left your beautiful mark on our class this semester. Thank you for sharing your stories and your wisdom with us throughout our time together.
Michael Dahl and Andra Metcalfe, the HOME Line dream team. I never doubted for a second that I picked the right internship. From the second day at the Minnesota State Capitol to the farewell ice cream party on our last day, I’m thankful for it all. The things I learned at HOME Line provided me with a realistic scaffolding on which I was able to place a lot of my learning from class. Because of this internship I have a whole new understanding of the struggles in the housing world and the amount of work it takes to make policy changes. I also now know more about Colorado than any Minnesotan ever would willingly learn (Andra is from Colorado and loved to tell me how much better Colorado weather was than Minnesota). The conversations that I had the privilege of engaging in, while interning at HOME Line with Andra, are some of my most favorite memories I am walking away with.
Y’all thought I wasn’t going to thank the most important people of all?!? No, best for last. Mohamed Ahmed, Alexa Carter, Kristina Curtis, Sean Doherty, Taylor Fontaine, Andra Metcalfe, Hannah Roe, Angie Smith, Sid Stuart, Sirry Tassah, Anne Van De Hey and Norris Vorasane, thank you all for finding your way to the Inequality in America fall 2019 family. No matter how diligently, gracefully or accidentally you fell into this program, I’m so glad you did. Each and every one of you! You all brought rich personal experience to the class and shared bravely. I will cherish the stories that were told in our space for a very, very long time. I will miss most the community that we forged as people who care deeply about injustice in the U.S. and loved to laugh. I am excited to see where life takes you all. I know this semester together will leave imprints on all of our future careers and lives. I miss you all already.
To all the future Inequality in America students. First, don’t hesitate and just submit the application already! Second, take care of Phil, Julia and Marie for us. Third, be nice to Dreamland Arts and try not to spill as much coffee on the carpet as we did.
Over and out,