Jes Stevens currently lives in Washington D.C. and works at Catholics United.
Living in Washington D.C. is certainly not what I expected it to be. I actually wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I didn’t think it would be like this. Maybe I had a skewed version of what our nation’s capital looked like because I’m from the Midwest, but I was expecting to see a lot of white middle to upper class white collar males, a large amount of people that looked like me.
I’m happy to be wrong. In certain neighborhoods and streets this demographic may be correct, but a majority of the neighborhoods in the District of Columbia are filled with a thriving diverse and ethnic background, one that can only be seen once you visit. It most definitely isn’t talked about. I didn’t hear about what our nation’s capital looked like except for what is up on the Hill.
This was something I thought a lot about in my first few weeks here. It is still something I think about every time I commute on the bus. I find it ironic in a nation that used to gloat about being one giant melting pot, at least to its growing youth, doesn’t acknowledge the diversity it has living and working in its Capitol.
While politicians go to congress and (debatably) work for the citizens they represent each day, they and the rest of the nation fail to recognize the thriving diversity and the culture of the people living here who I believe are the ones who keep our government running.
Not only is there a Chinatown and I’m sure a little Italy, but there is Little Ethiopia and a neighborhood called the Catholic Ghetto. And it important to point out these extremely different neighborhoods are all within a 10 square mile radius of one another, including the Capitol where I think too many go to work for the 1%.
But for me, it isn’t enough to just acknowledge the diversity. We must be willing to address the needs of each group, each neighborhood. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that it is not a surprise to hear of urban communities and city public school systems failing their students across the nation when the same thing is going on in the city that also holds our Capitol.
I am grateful to belong to a community that acknowledges these struggles, the variety of issues that these diverse communities face. Loretto invites these people to be a part of their community, a community driven to work against systemic injustices and cycles of poverty. I couldn’t be happier about living with housemates who each bring their own backgrounds and cultures to the dinner table each night and creates a wonderful home for all.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.