Maribel Orozco '20 Reflects on Opportunities to Embrace the Other


Maribel Orozco '20 Reflects on Opportunities to Embrace the Other

Maribel Orozco ’20 is a Psychology and Sociology double major and leadership minor at the University of San Diego. As a Resident Assistant (RA), student worker in USD’s Mulvaney Center for Community Awareness and Social Action, a 2018 MICAH Fellow and a Tijuana Spring Breakthrough, Search Retreat and San Diego immersion participant, Orozco’s world view has grown immensely. She has also done regular visits to Rachel’s Night Shelter. There, the group cooks, serves and shares a meal with homeless women. Orozco has written a reflection on her experience.

Maribel Orozco '20 Homepage

In the past few years, I have learned a lot about the meaning of embracing. Through my struggles, I have learned to appreciate the reality and beauty of what it means to embrace every experience. However, the hard thing about embracing someone or something is that they most likely won’t be like you, think like you, have the same experiences as you, or behave like you. To welcome into one’s heart and willingly accept someone that is different from you can be challenging.

Most of the time, though, embracing means being vulnerable and realizing you might have been wrong. Embracing involves constant reflection, the shedding of one’s biases, stereotypes and prejudices. Overall, embracing means realizing that one might have been wrong and, yet, willing to step outside of oneself and consciously take a step forward.

Personally, my journey of learning the beauty and goodness of embracing began when coming to USD. Although it was not always easy to fully embrace due to social pressures and self-judgement, I found ways to experience the joy and importance that came with embracing different ideas. I could put myself “out there” and experience heart-changing experiences.

One of the best examples was the decision to get involved with Rachel’s Night Shelter, first as a student participant and then, eventually, becoming a student leader.

Getting involved at Rachel’s Night Shelter offers a local service opportunity that is sponsored through University Ministry, which gives students the chance to share a meal with homeless women. Students prepare a meal, serve a meal, and then sit and share the meal with the ladies.

Prior to going to the shelter, students discuss the topic of homelessness. Homelessness, for me, has never been easy to talk about. I believe this comes from the discomfort that stems from the need to be vulnerable when speaking about homelessness. Speaking about homelessness can be difficult because we realize it means having to give up false notions that we’ve been taught. The act of purely speaking about homelessness allows us to be open to embrace a new world and slowly be open to understanding something different.

When we are sitting and eating with them, we begin to realize that these ladies aren’t so different from us, they aren’t the strangers that society has cast them to be. Instead, these are loving and joyful mothers, daughters and sisters. It is through these experiences I’m reminded of the reward of being open to embracing a temporary discomfort for the beauty of learning about the truth of embracing others. Every time I serve at Rachel’s, I am validated in the value and importance of embracing diversity. It has been through these opportunities that I’ve learned and grown in understanding the beauty of taking a step back from myself and seeing the truth of others.

— Maribel Orozco ‘20 wrote the article and provided photos

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