As second semester senior year quickly approached, I got off the plane from an unforgettable week engaging with fellow Holy Cross students, Father Hayes, 67 children at the Be Like Brit Orphanage, and a welcoming Haitian community who all demonstrated genuine compassion, love, and a desire to truly ask more of themselves and each other. My week in Haiti ended, but the memories, laughter, reflection, and excitement serve as a catalyst for my curiosity in surrounding communities as well as a recognition of the importance of forming relationships with one another.
Just two days after arriving back in the States I joined 13 members of my graduating class, 6 members of the class of 2018, 11 members of the class of 2019, and 2 first year students at the Non-Profit Careers Conference held at Holy Cross. Together we explored the various aspects of running, maintaining, and growing a non-profit organization. We participated in “The Business Side of Non-Profits” workshop with Professor David Chu, learned “Non-Profits 101” with Michelle Sterk-Barrett and her husband, Tim Barrett, and “Reflected on our Gifts” with Isabelle Jenkins ’10. We were able to pick the brains of HC alumni at networking events, learn what it takes to be a community organizer, and ask questions on vocational discernment in the “First Year Out” panel of recent grads. Most importantly we were separated into interest groups to work with local non-profits in the Worcester area to tackle specific problems the organizations faced, and propose possible solutions. From the Worcester Tree Initiative’s fight against the Asian Long Horn Beetle to new marketing strategies to bring more volunteers to AVID’s college readiness tutoring program, we collaborated with and learned from our community partners to get hands on experience in the non-profit sector.
From beginning to end of the conference we were getting to know each other, our case study partners and strengthening our Holy Cross Network of alumni, faculty, and staff. Having participated in the conference for two years it became very clear to me that from year to year it wasn’t the lectures and PowerPoint presentations that stuck with me most, but the conversations I had with everyone in attendance. I didn’t recall all the answers from our Non-Profit 101 trivia game from the year prior, but when I met with Alumni for the second year in a row I fully remembered who they were, their vocation and the conversations we had on their life journeys. This really reminded me that our community engagement here on the Hill is what is going to impact our memories the most when we leave. Community-Based Learning has provided me with the skills to network, the ability to reflect on my service experiences, and the ability to recognize injustices and dig deeper into understanding the root causes of them. Lastly, CBL and all the people who partake in/are associated with CBL taught me the value of building relationships with our greater community.