At the end of my first year as a CBL student at Holy Cross, I wrote a reflection on my experience for my Montserrat class. I believe it is fitting to revisit some of the thoughts I had as we begin working with new sites and people this semester.
I began my reflection, “Each week at CBL, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone.” Although this adage is often overused when it comes to community engagement, there is value in placing this feeling at the foundation of your CBL experience. It is only when we embrace and recognize the discomfort injustice brings that we will be inclined to act upon it. So, relish in this feeling, and even look for it week to week at your CBL site.
Another piece of my reflection that is important to keep in mind is that your experience as a student at Holy Cross and as a CBL student are only small pieces of a larger, more dynamic puzzle. However, no matter how small the pieces, both are an integral part of your self-discovery and your understanding of the community. I learned not to be defeated by any challenges, because eventually they will be overcome and become part of your story. I came to this conclusion after my challenging adjustment as a first-year college student and the experiences I had at Ascentria Care Alliance, where I tutored unaccompanied refugee minors in Spanish.
The closing of my reflection included the following statement, “I will continue on at Holy Cross becoming a woman for others, taking CBL classes and facilitating my own learning experiences through service.” My hope is that this holds true for all of you as well as you embark on your CBL journey this semester, whether this is your first or eighth time working with a community partner.
NPCC Participant, Jacqueline Galvinhill ’18 guest blogs to share about her experience at the 2016 conference.
My expectation for the Non-Profit Careers Conference was a week of workshops and lectures designed to present as much information to me as possible in the limited time available. I expected to leave the conference with a list of possible careers and resources to help me pursue my interests. What I actually experienced was so much more! The conference taught me important skills that I am sure I will use in my professional life, but more importantly, the conference created a space for me to question who I am and what motivates me. The sessions devoted to reflection and discernment forced me to examine how I was responding to new information by providing a structured avenue for asking myself questions that never would have otherwise occurred to me. In being asked to select adjectives for myself, I discovered how I view myself in a few words. In being asked about my childhood talents and my current talents, I realized that my love for public speaking was an interest that I could not ignore. In reflecting on failure, I was motivated to explore more opportunities even in the face of possible rejection. In reflecting on the whole week I felt somewhat liberated in knowing that there are a multitude of options available to me and that part of the fun is trying many of them. I went to the Non-Profit Careers Conference hoping to learn about job opportunities. I left the conference having discovered more about who I am and who I want to become for others.
Growing up in the inner city of Boston all that I ever heard was the college was the only way to “get out of the hood”, to get a job, and to be happy. I realized that I was not coming to college just for me but for my whole family. Everyone depended on my success. With that in mind I came to Holy Cross hoping to be an Economics major, because that is what I thought would secure me a job after college. At that point, getting a job and wealth was the only picture of living a good life that I had. I was not interested in the topic and that was clear to me my freshman year when I struggled in my Principles to Microeconomics class. Instead I found myself thriving in my Montserrat class, Exploring Differences, which is where I was introduced to CBL.
Personally I have realized that Economics does not fulfill me. With that class I did not have time to focus on justice, but I only had time to focus on myself. CBL helped me choose what was really important to me. With CBL I was able to direct my attention to God and justice for the marginalized. Justice is something that I want to focus on now, and that is what I see CBL doing for me and for those around me. CBL is more than just about community service to me, it is about the conversations of justice that CBL initiates in class. With discussions of CBL in my past classes, the injustices in the world become reality. As students we are able to put faces on the marginalized people we read about in class, which inspires us to get to the root of the problems in society.
Recently in my Liberation Theology course we discussed how some see religion as an opiate because it teaches us to endure the pain of the world and wait for the suffering to go away in heaven. Before I took any CBL courses, I was enduring the pain of the world by accepting the injustices that I saw. Instead of being idle to the injustices of the world, I have chosen to be active, and play a role in one day easing the injustices of the world.