Diversity has a unique and sophisticated way of shaping human lives towards the way of true beauty and goodness. My life in the USA has taught me how being with totally different weather, cultures and people can transform me into a better person than I used to be. Every little experience from colorful autumn, friendly people and chilling snow flacks to rigorous academic workload opened the portal of a new horizon. I have never been to this far from my home and everything came as a big surprise when I first came to the USA. No matter how much we read or see on the television about other countries but only living there can offer us a true perspective of that country. My initial feeling after coming to the USA was being able to recognize how little I know about everything around here. This experience of utter newness and cultural shock is intimidating but can be life-changing if embraced with humility. Unfortunately, we often become the prey of a competitive world where priorities are reaching the deadlines and proving our efficiency. The intensified pressure of being shameful for our limitations result in depression and sadness. Everyone seems to be in the rat race of becoming superhuman. This philosophical and rhetorical question wanders in my mind - Can we find some time to become more human amid all the competition and calculation?
I believe, Christmas is a celebration of our humanness. It is a call to joyfully recognize our inadequacy and vulnerability that would lead us to happiness and inner peace. God considers human life, which he made in his own image (Genesis 1:27), immensely precious and worth saving at tremendous cost. Most of the time we fail to solve the equation of our happiness is due to our unwillingness to accept our limitations and celebrate our humanness.
I feel blessed to study at the University of Notre Dame and consistently enriching my experience by her holistic formation of academic, social, cultural, moral and spiritual education. The warm glow of Notre Dame makes an overarching impact of servant leadership and fuels the inspiration of doing good and making positive change in the world.
I was fortunate to do my internship in the office of Mission Center and observe their work with the guidance of Fr. Mike DeLaney, CSC, and Mr. Jim Kramer. The organization is presently working to provide education, healthcare and other necessities for disadvantaged children of God, especially in Asia, Africa and South America. I have experienced tremendous hospitality and collaboration from all of the staff while doing my internship at the Mission Center. Overall, I am so much motivated by the experience to commit myself to work for the poor and marginalized in order to create a society with equity, justice and the common good.
I see Christmas as a message of realistic optimism and hope. As a Holy Cross religious, I consider myself a person who must bring hope to people by assisting them to have the competence to see and the courage to act, especially among the poor who live on the periphery where the light of capitalistic development seldom reaches. I have empirical knowledge of the tragic lives of the poor in rural Bangladesh which often makes me brokenhearted. My heart continuously burns with the zeal to alleviate this inequity of human dignity. Nelson Mandela has said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I firmly believe that it is only education that can uplift the poor and marginalized and can place them in dignified circumstances where they no longer feel less fortunate and destitute. Moreover, with proper education, it is possible to turn lots of problems into sustainable possibilities. It is my desire to strengthen my servant leadership skills in order to bring positive and dramatic changes throughout my country and to provide a better place to live, especially for the poor and marginalized among the people.
Christmas is a celebration of our humanness as God has made it dignified by becoming one of us. Let us celebrate Christmas in the manger of our heart to spread hope and peace.
"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." - Nelson Mandela
Br. Manuel Chandan Gomes, CSC is a Holy Cross religious from St. Joseph Province, Bangladesh. He is studying Master of Business in Non-Profit Administration at the University of Notre Dame.