Chris Fletcher is a 2005 Macalester alum from Sante Fe, New Mexico who majored in International Studies and participated in the Lilly Project on many levels. He served on the Advisory Board for three years and, like book ends, participated in the Lives of Commitment Program as a first year and the Senior Leadership Conference before graduating. He took three Lilly classes, which included Work, Ethics, and Vocation, Work and Ethics Across Traditions, and an English course called simply Justice. Below Chris reflects on his journey with the Lilly Project.
“I have always been a strong advocate of community service in general, and what is termed service learning, in particular. The latter I believe is more beneficial than the former because it has the added component of reflection. That is to say, it forces those doing the service to think and reflect upon that service and ask questions about it such as: 'Why am I doing this?; Whom am I affecting (helping)?; Am I being effective?; How does this service fit into the larger picture of my life, etc.? The Lilly Project was a fantastic part of my Macalester education because it not only served as a vehicle for reflection, it also facilitated it.
"While I was going to Macalester I was very busy and always felt like I was running, hardly having time to breathe. The Lilly Project was one the very few things which allowed me to slow down, and take time to look/question/analyze/critique the reasons I was at Macalester, studying what I was, and it also tied my studies/co-curricular, to my future line of work. Moreover, it generated many discussions around the issue of ethics and vocation, two areas traditionally thought of as stemming from religion. As a non-religious person, however, I eagerly entered these discussions with a particular interest in trying to locate the origin of my ethics as a non-religious person. Although, I still have unanswered questions in this arena, Lilly was indeed able to provide some clarity. More than anything else, however, these discussions demonstrated that doing good—ethical—work is not limited to those who have a religious underpinning in their lives, but rather can be practiced by all those who share the desire to help repair the world irrespective of their religious tendencies. In other words, there was room for all.
"The Lilly Project certainly shaped my future and contributed to my vision of what I want to do with my life. I have always felt a strong desire to battle against injustice but never knew exactly how I wanted to/should approach that. Throughout my time at Macalester I worked extensively with the Tibetan community in Minnesota. My first involvement with them came from Lives of Commitment [a Lilly first year program where students work weekly with immigrants and refugee and reflect on what it means to live a life of commitment]. This lead to subsequent involvement with the Tibetan community through the Philips Scholarship, a Watson Fellowship [following college], and now my current job at the International Campaign for Tibet [in Washington DC]. In this sense—in a very real and concrete way—I was able to link my ethical commitment of wanting to help root out injustice, with my work: thus meshing desire/passion and work into one. The Lilly Project helped to reinforce, clarify, and channel my desire of wanting to do good work.”