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Jamie Zwijak: A Real World Super Hero

November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010

Is there anything Dominican University student Jamie Zwijak doesn’t do?  Well, I suppose she doesn’t hurt puppies or cause harm to the planet, but in terms of really good things she seems to be on top of a lot. This real-life Captain Planet is involved with multiple social justice organizations and she’s bringing her work to our school.

Just a couple weeks ago, Jamie gave a presentation about Bread for the World, a Christian, international, nonprofit organization that promotes social change through legislation and grass roots work.  Perhaps you remember the term “grass roots” from the last presidential election—working with average people to do little things that make a big difference.  This particular group lobbies for political action to stop hunger.  While you may also have heard “ lobbying” used as a bad word in politics, it truly is an effective way to bring about change in the current political structure.  Jamie spoke about a tax credit that will be put in front of Congress soon, which is designed to help struggling families in America make ends meet.  This particular credit gives financial options to people who work hard but need more help to raise them from poverty.  Jamie told us we can be a part of Bread for the World’s 2010 Offering of Letters by writing letters to our Congressmen and Congresswomen that encourage them to pass the legislation.  If you want to learn more about this and other Bread for the World Initiatives, visit bread.org or talk to Jamie!

Another incredible thing Jamie has done is participate in a trip to the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.  I had not heard much about the SOA until last Sunday, when Jamie told those gathered for Mass about the horrible institution and how people are working to stop it.  Apparently, the United States of America runs a training center in the state of Georgia that has produced some of the worst murderers and criminals in South America.  What I want to know is, why is this still around and how come I didn’t know about it before now?  A little research revealed that the actual, revised name of the institution is the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.”  It was opened in 1946 in Panama but was kicked out because of the Panama Canal Treaty (smart move on their part).  Among the tactics presented to its students are sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics.  Obviously, the school has failed at promoting “ cooperation” since the graduates of the SOA use their new skills to terrorize and control educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and other people of their own countries.  As I scroll through the lists of people killed by SOA graduates, I have to breathe deeply so people around me don’t wonder why that random girl in the pink sweater is bawling her eyes out.  Seriously…

“530. CHILD, 10, daughter of Felix Rodriguez
531. CHILD, 8, son of Felix Rodriguez
532. CHILD, 6, daughter of Felix Rodriguez
533. CHILD, 4, son of Felix Rodriguez
534. PEDRO ARGUETA, 40, day laborer
535. PEDRO ARGUETA, 35, day laborer, brother of Pedro Argueta
536. JULIA DEl CId, 18, pregnant at time of death
537. HUMBERTO Chicas, 19, day laborer, companion of Julia Del Cid
538. CHILD, 2, son of Julia Del Cid and Humberto Chicas
539. VICENTE MARQUEZ, 60, day laborer”  (SOA Watch).
And these are only ten of the 767 documented deaths of one massacre that occurred in El Salvador in 1981.

I encourage you to pray for the group of Dominican students headed to Georgia this weekend to protest the School of the Americas.  They will carry crosses with the names of those who have died at the hands of SOA graduates and protest the violence in solidarity with thousands of other people.  Simultaneous events will take place in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, Ireland, and several other countries.  If you want to learn more, I would recommend the SOA Watch website, or as I mentioned before, ask Jamie!

As remarkable as these efforts are, I think the best thing Jamie does is being an active member of Dominican University.  She may certainly feel differently about this, and if you ask she will deny the fact that she has a wonderwoman cape in her backpack, but I think Jamie is doing an incredible job of working for God.  She taught me about Bread for the World and the SOA, which has opened my eyes to justice issues I knew nothing of… and I’ve only known her for three months.  Tack on the facts that she is a Liturgical Coordinator for hospitality and the Senior Resident Assistant and I think there’s proof enough of her superhero-ness.  Seriously, give this girl a high-five.

Anne Glaza, Class of 2014

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