Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Bid You Godspeed, James

My nephew James is about to undertake a one year endeavor serving as a Jesuit volunteer. He has accepted a social work position with a non-profit agency in Nashville. As a Jesuit volunteer, he signed a covenant binding him to four core values: social justice, community, simple living, and spirituality. He will be receiving a monthly stipend of $80/month, and living with a group of other Jesuit volunteers. It is an admirable path that he has chosen.

The materialistic side of me would deem this as intolerable -- at least the monthly allowance of $80.  But James is a such a person to be able to make this sacrifice and consider this experience for the betterment of his inner being, as well as a service to community, society, and humanity.

James has always been driven. He moved cross country from Seattle to Boston area on a full scholarship ride to Holy Cross College to pursue his undergraduate studies. His determined and individualistic spirit to go cross country for college far away from family and friends, I believe, helped him grow and mature  quickly.  He is planning to continue his studies further towards graduate school after this endeavor.

Further, on his determination and drive, he beat me, Michael, and Mia on a weight loss contest a couple years back.  He won the contest by a run-away, embarrassing all three of us.

This is all from a person that as a young kid was the most restless I have ever seen. He could run around most of the day, and he would not tire. The person babysitting him would tire quickly just keeping watch. He was also inquisitive. The times I visited Seattle when I lived in Southern California, the young kid James would ask me questions about where I lived, why I was not living in Seattle with the rest of the family, and many other subjects about me. He would look at me directly with his curiosity filled eyes. During his early school years, once he found out that my last name was Antonio, he exclaimed in astonishment and wonder "hey, you have the same last name as me, you must be my cousin." At that time, he was attending school with many cousins with the same last name as his.

He joined me and Michael on a three-week backpacking trip during the summer of 2004.  He visited me in Wiesbaden during the Thanksgiving weekend of 2007.  We explored Heidelberg, Prague, and Nuremburg.  I wish him all the best. I am sure that James will take this experience head on and use it to his advantage.

I had intended to post this blog prior to his departure from Seattle to Nashville in early August.  I have since received a note and pictures from him via mail.  He has indicated that he is doing well in his job and his living situation with his housemates.

In front of the National Museum, as seen from Wenceslas Square, in Prague.

Walking around the Old Castle area of Prague.

Michael and James playing cards during a train ride with the French countryside in the background.

In the dungeon of Heidelberg Castle.

Inside the Louvre Museum.

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