People are just people

Today all the students and Sisters involved in the SisterStory oral history project at Aquinas College gathered to celebrate the end of our work together. We met for a luncheon in the Dominican Center to share food, stories and clips from our videos.

I’m a little sad that the project is coming to a close because I’ve enjoyed hearing about the other students’ experiences, but I’m happy because I think I’ll be able to continue my friendship with Sister Verona this summer. I’m staying in Grand Rapids for the summer, and I’ll be living right down the street from Marywood. I’m excited to keep getting to know her and learning more from this project.

One of the most important things I’ve learned from this project is that the differences between people don’t really matter as much as we think they do. The gap in age between me and Sister Verona, about 74 years, has faded into the background of our interactions. When we talk, I feel like the generational rift between us disappears and that we can both interact as equals and friends. Our variations in lifestyle, too, are also not as extreme as I had assumed they would be. Although Sister Verona is a Dominican Sister and I’m a student without deep connections to the Catholic Church, we had so much more in common than I expected. We’re both close with our siblings and we have the same quirky sense of humor.

Although my preference for MSU and hers for U of M might be an insurmountable difference, the main thing about us is that we’re both just humans when you take away the labels of age and occupation. No matter how different they may seem, people are just people. This is such an important concept to remember, and I will take it with me beyond this project. 

About Erin Dwan

Erin Dwan is a junior majoring in English Literature and Community Leadership and Minoring in Women’s Studies at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. She is an intern in AQ’s Women’s Studies Center and a consultant in their Writing Center. After she graduates, Erin hopes to work in the nonprofit field and plant a garden in her yard. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, baking, and skiing. Erin is excited to learn more about the Sister she was paired with, Sister Verona Wangler, OP, and hopes to learn more about religious life throughout the course of the project. During the Spring of 2019 she was paired with Sister Verona Wangler, OP; a Grand Rapids Dominican Sister.