To encourage students to reflect on how they can best serve others, Campus Ministry has invited author Jay Sullivan to share his experiences volunteering at an all-boys orphanage in Jamaica on Monday.
After graduating from Boston College, Sullivan volunteered teaching high school in Jamaica through the Boston College Volunteer Corp, now the Jesuit Volunteer Corp, and eventually moved into the Jamaican orphanage.
“In every Jesuit high school, the students have to do social outreach work, even in a poor country like Jamaica,” Sullivan said. “I started bringing my students to Alpha Boy’s School … and after a year I asked the nuns if I could just move in. It was a way to immerse myself in working with the kids.”
Together with a handful of nuns and staff members, Sullivan helped care for more than 250 children during his time in Jamaica. After returning to the United States and becoming a lawyer, Sullivan resolved to find a way to support the orphanage.
“I decided I should just write a book about the work that goes on at the orphanage,” Sullivan said. “It’s about how different people who pass through the orphanage try to make a connection, and make a difference.”
Sullivan’s memoir, “Raising Gentle Men: Lives at the Orphanage Edge,” recounts his experiences volunteering at the Alpha Boys’ School, an orphanage in Kingston, Jamaica, between 1984 and 1985. All proceeds from the sale of his book will go to the orphanage.
To promote the book, which came out in March, Sullivan reached out to various Jesuit colleges and universities, and was eventually invited by Georgetown’s Campus Ministry to give a talk on campus.
Sullivan’s talk is being organized by Josh Evans, the chaplain-in-residence for Alumni Square and townhouses. Evans said that Sullivan’s story is in line with Georgetown’s mission and values.
“The event is an occasion for people to come and hear a story of someone who dedicated a couple of years of his life to serving others,” Evans said. “Through that, students can see a way to understand their own lives. By hearing someone’s story, you can place yourself in it and see how it relates to your own life. The idea is to provoke students to think about their own lives and how they can serve others.”
Evans added that the book addresses racial and class issues, which may be of interest to students.
“He weaves the story in with a lot of themes related to social justice,” Evans said. “He tries to say that this experience reveals a new perspective on how to talk about our identities.”
Sullivan said that he plans to incorporate themes of identity, purpose and community into his talk Monday, and to discuss the relevance of his book to college students.
“College is that in between period when you’re going to be out on your own for the first time,” Sullivan said. “It’s a huge time when people are doing a lot of soul-searching, so you’re realizing, I have to start having an identity on my own.”
Sullivan will speak Monday at 7 p.m. in White-Gravenor Hall 211.