I took 6 International Studies students to a soup kitchen in downtown Barcelona run by the sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta to help serve a lunch for people whose situation forces them to turn to places like soup kitchens for support. Mostly men from 25-45, most of them were immigrant workers from other countries trying for a better life in Barcelona. We served and cleaned up lunch for over 300 people, which was a privilege to help out with.
The best part of the day for me was being able to spend time with the sisters and other volunteers. I talked with a man named Francisco for a while, who comes regularly to serve at the soup kitchen. He spoke of how he felt a deep sense of satisfaction in coming here, knowing that he was contributing to something purposeful and meaningful beyond himself. He spoke of the sisters and how he was constantly amazed at their ability to give and receive nothing in return. He was almost emotional as he conveyed to me his deep sense of respect for these women.
The last thing we spoke of was how proud he was to see our group of young people coming to serve alongside him and the other volunteers. He related to me that far too often the only messages he received regarding youth spoke to him of how they were disrespectful and selfish. The sisters and other volunteers accentuated his observation with their expressions of “moi bien” and the smiles on their faces as the students participated with them in the serving and cleaning the soup, fruit and bread.