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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

FINK: Living Life on Another Level

Photo by Photo Courtesy of Catherine Fink

This story contains editorial content regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You never know when life will “shut down” and close out opportunities from you. I never expected my high school experience to be almost nonexistent. Fast forward to my freshman year at Marquette University, I have learned it is important to take advantage of opportunities and live presently as the world can change without notice

This year I have engaged in living presently to not only make up for lost time from the pandemic, but to experience life on another level. I traveled to Berlin for a German class over spring break, traveled to Nogales, Mexico to serve in the Kino Border Initiative with Campus Ministry and upon my return, flew to Hawaii to travel with my family.  Travel and understanding other cultures fills me with such a sense of how interwoven the world really is today.

I have been immersed in the German language and culture since I was four years old. When I was in Berlin, the Ukraine – Russia War had just started, but already we could see immigrants crossing over and traveling through the city. I was able to use my German along with Google Translate to help translate signs into Ukrainian to help refugees navigate to the bus stations which made me feel helpful in a helpless situation. 

I wanted to further understand what is happening on the southern border with immigration to the United States from Latin America. In my opinion, the more hands-on you are when it comes to issues, the more you are able to develop a narrative about them. To me, those first hand experiences are the ones that may change the way you live your life. 

The most impactful part of the Campus Ministry trip to Nogales, Mexico was hearing the testimonies of people in the immigration shelter. One that stood out to me was a Guatemalan seeking asylum with his wife and two children. When we first met him, he was terrified and emotional which poured out over me as he described the horrifying experiences he shared. On the final day my group and I were overwhelmed with joy and hope as we were able to meet him and his family on the U.S. side of the border. 

My final trip of the summer may seem trivial in relation to the other cultural experiences I had in the months and weeks prior, but this family trip to Hawaii was special on many fronts in its own ways. My dad turned 60, and to celebrate my family attended a luau to learn more about the Polynesian culture and how they told stories through song and dance.

This trip doubled not only as my dad’s 60th birthday celebration, but also served as a way to help my mom realize a longtime goal of hers: to hike Diamond Head, an extinct volcano in Honolulu. My mom had recently achieved a personal weightless milestone, and completing that hike with her and the rest of my family made me burst with pride in seeing her reach her goal. During this excursion I also realized how extremely important family is to me, and how powerful it can be to take in the moments that I have with them.

I have always had a healthy fear of the ocean because there are so many mysterious creatures that lurk below the surface. At the same time I also have a great appreciation for its beauty and power. Bouncing around on a small raft boat during the day was fun, but at night you couldn’t see the waves. It was scary to get into the inky black water, but then the captain threw out a surfboard with LED lights on it. We hung onto the edge and watched for mantas to come up and feed. For a terrifying moment, I felt like I was shark bait bobbing around in the ocean! This was truly living in the moment because before this moment, I never saw myself doing anything like this.

Land was a very different experience from the ocean because we stayed in a house in the rainforest.  We did multiple hikes day and night at Volcano National Park. The evening hikes  were special, as we were able to walk to the crater edge and watch the lava’s red and fiery glow. It was like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, the power and magnitude of the volcanic land was so impressive. 

The pandemic has taught me to live presently and to never take anything for granted. I will continue to look for opportunities that will not only allow me to spend time with family and friends, but to challenge myself physically and mentally to have a better understanding of myself.

This article was written by Catherine Fink. She can be reached at [email protected].

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