To mark Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, we asked staff, interns and volunteers to write about what motivates their work.

Our last essay is from Ben Anderson, a Jesuit Scholastic earning his master’s in philosophy at Loyola University, on the path towards becoming a Catholic priest. Ben is completing the last of a three-year internship with CCH, assisting the Speakers Bureau with student organizing and homeless outreach.  

There is something usually so inspirationally concrete about the work of CCH.  As an organizing intern I have created student groups, taught people about issues, and turned them out for events.  It is has been brick laying of people towards a goal and after the work, you can point to the real people and outcomes achieved.

That has been my work, that is, until now.

Now, my work is the entirely mysterious effort of capturing the experiences of another.  The organizer I work under is starting at the drawing board for a new campaign and we are slowly letting the voices of people heard in listening sessions sketch out countless drafts and create models of what is and what could be.  A group of one-piece metal desks crowded together in CPS classrooms have been my studio where I encounter and ponder the hopes and concerns of students on the South and West sides.

I don’t know where it will all go, yet I am incredibly inspired by the process, because it does something more basic and maybe even more profound than any of my work thus far for CCH.

I am listening.

As a philosophy grad student I call it epistemic justice, that is, respecting people as “knowers.” As a Jesuit seminarian, I see it as the most basic affirmation of a person’s dignity given to them by God.  These students are important and have something incredibly valuable to say about their situation.

It is inspiring to me that CCH is taking the time to listen.