From the Director: November 2016
November 6, 2016
It’s great to be back on Mabuchi Hill after five weeks of travel. My autumn trip took me on ten planes, countless trips on trains and subways, over two thousand miles of highway, through four countries, to the campuses of nine colleges, and to ten different cities. I met with Xavier alumni, former teachers and Jesuit Volunteers, college presidents, brother Jesuits, ambassadors, university and high school trustees, parish priests and their parishioners, business people, classmates, colleagues in Jesuit education, and many, many friends.
As I sit here in my (freshly painted!) office, staring out at the lagoon on this perfect Sunday afternoon, I’m trying to recall all the stops on the trip. Looking at the calendar for October of 2016, I find myself asking one question over and over: “Dennis, what did you learn while you were away?” As an educator, I am happy that is the question that crystalizes as I settle back into island life here at school. The answer to that question became very clear over the course of the trip. I learned how hard people are rooting for Xavier High School.
Many of the people who support our school have never been anywhere near it, and probably never will be. They do not wish to be lauded or praised or even thanked for their efforts. What they want is for Jesuit education to do what it’s always done: transform lives. People offer Xavier all types of support—much of it financial. Financial assistance is key, as we are a small school with many different facets of operation and any surplus we have at the end of the financial year is minuscule. Every dollar counts, and many people were breathtakingly generous in their financial assistance to us during October. The trip raised over $35,000. Isn’t that incredible?
While I spent so much time away from Xavier during October, I also heard people say that they’re praying for us. I heard them say they love seeing the photos on our social media outlets and reading about the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. I loved the looks on the faces of people who had never heard of us before, as they removed their phones from their pocket or purses, opened Google maps, and found our campus here on Weno. That encounter was repeated many times, and I always enjoyed the moment when a person continued to zoom out only to see the seemingly endless blue of the Pacific.
The question I heard over and over again during my trip was, “How can I help?” For some, this meant writing a check for a scholarship, or donating through our new online giving page at the UNE Province website. For others, it meant connecting me with businesses who might be able to help us. For my mom (and other family and friends of staff members in the States), it’s meant constant trips to the U.S. Post Office and filling out customs form after customs form in order to mail things to Micronesia that Amazon or other businesses won’t ship here. For these people and many others, their financial and logistical support comes with emails, texts, and notes in the mail about how they think about us all the time, and that we are at the top of the list of intentions they have when they go to pray. The level of gratitude I have for the kind of encouragement I encountered during the trip was truly overwhelming, and I was blessed to be able to encounter it in person. While I often wished I could bring our students with me to each stop to showcase how incredible they are, I now find myself wishing that I could parade all our benefactors in front of the school so everyone could meet one another. Being the conduit between both collections of people is a privileged place for me, and one I do not take for granted.
If you support Xavier financially or wish to do so in the future, please know how grateful we are, and how central your dollars are to the continuation of Jesuit education in Micronesia. Please know, also, that we appreciate the prayers, the notes, and the love. We need those things just as much as the money, if not more so.
Thank you to all of you who support this great school in countless ways.
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