The Power of a Different Reality Finding Strength in Sheila

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Corrine Hays


Before coming to Notre Dame, I had little experience in conversing with those who represent a different background than my own. Raised in private schools with little diversity, I spent my time learning about the oppressed rather than interacting with them directly. This past semester, I took a course called “Writing for Social Justice” in which I had the opportunity to interview Sheila, a blind woman living in the South Bend area. Through a series of interviews, I had the privilege to hear Sheila’s story. Sheila’s life history consists of HIV, drug abuse, compassion, loss, and empowerment. Interacting directly with Sheila, a woman who represents a reality much different from my own, taught me the value in listening; I now realize that optimal human growth arises with an open mind and heart. Sheila’s battle with HIV and other unjustified trauma led me to research the impact of HIV on the African American community further. This essay celebrates the strength of Sheila while emphasizing that HIV remains a disproportional threat to African American individuals. By sharing Sheila's story, I hope to demonstrate the power in a different reality and encourage others to listen with empathy.

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How to Cite
Hays, C. (2020). The Power of a Different Reality: Finding Strength in Sheila. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research , 10, 84-88. Retrieved from
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