A Month of Gratitude – Funmi Anifowoshe ’17

A Month of Gratitude

This April, I have been fortunate enough to have two wonderful experiences that have allowed me to show and express my gratitude towards the Community-Based Learning (CBL) Office. On April 4, I was able to ‘co-host’ the Community Partner Reception with Ms. Isabelle Jenkins, the Associate Director of the CBL Office. The event is a yearly tradition in which organizations in the Worcester community that partner with Holy Cross are invited to campus for a light reception, and are recognized and thanked for their collaboration with Holy Cross and the work that they do in Worcester. It is a chance to thank all the community partners at once, and express our gratitude for time and effort that they devote as they work to make Worcester a better place. This year, the event was sponsored by the CBL Office, Government and Community Relations, the Teacher Education Program, and Student Programs for Urban Development, and Elaines Peña ’18 and Sean Teebagy ’17 gave speeches to thank all the community partners. They both spoke eloquently and passionately about how grateful they were to have experiences in the community that helped shape their worldview. They also spoke about how thankful they were to the community partners for their collaboration with Holy Cross students, and for providing so many with the opportunity to experience Worcester and to ask the tough questions in the classroom that lead to so many meaningful dialogues. It was great to hear the speeches from the two students, and their words were such a wonderful ode of gratitude to the hard but necessary work of the community partners.

Later this month on April 11, Joe Donelan made a visit to Holy Cross. Along with several other CBL students, I was able to meet with Joe Donelan, the alumnus from the class of 1972 that gave the $1.2 million gift that established the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning – us! It was a wonderful opportunity to hear about his passion and motivation for donating and establishing the CBL Office. He spoke candidly about his experience here at Holy Cross, and his vision for the CBL Office and for students doing CBL work. I was moved by his continued passion and interest in seeing the CBL Office continue to thrive as well as his ability to ask tough questions and challenge us to think. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to reflect on my experience here at Holy Cross, and I found myself very grateful for my formative CBL courses in both my first and second year.

As a graduating senior, these two events have really allowed me to reflect on how much I have grown as a result of my engagement in and with the Worcester community, and they make me forever grateful for my academic and community-based learning experiences.

Thank you to Our Community Partners! – Elaines Peña ’18

On Tuesday, April 4th, CBL Intern, Elaines Peña ’18 acknowledged and thanked our community partners for all that they do to serve as co-educators of Holy Cross students. Thank you, Community Partners! Read Elaines’ speech below.

First I would like to begin by thanking all of you for being here today and for all that you do in hosting Holy Cross students at your sites. Through my experience as a community based learning intern I have witnessed the impact that working in the city of Worcester has on the students here. Personally, community based learning has allowed me to find my passion for justice. Through classes such as Exploring Differences, Liberation Theology, as well as Women and Gender studies, students are able to read and talk about the injustices that occur in the world around us, but through community based learning everything we read about becomes a reality As students we are able to form meaningful relationships, with people at our sites, which inspires us to get to the root of the problems in our society.

I would like to take this opportunity to speak about the importance of CBL in my own life. Through my community based learning experiences I have been able to find a community in which I feel at home. Coming to Holy Cross from Boston, it is easy to forget the realities of life. CBL has kept me grounded on what truly matters to me and to the members of the Worcester community. I have had the privilege of meeting wonderful people through CBL at St. Mary’s, the Assumption Center, and now at Daybreak. When I was at Girls with Dreams, my supervisor, Anne Kane, had a profound influence on me. The semesters that I spent there were filled with kindness, love, and tremendous guidance. From the very first day I arrived until the very last day Anne trusted me and allowed me to grow as a person. I especially want to thank Anne for pushing me to take on a bigger role at Girls with Dreams by giving a presentation to the girls. Anne was able to see something in me, that I didn’t even know was there. My time at Girls with Dreams helped me grow in more ways than one, and I am so thankful for the time I got to spend there every week. It amazes me that Anne and all of the wonderful community partners take the time out of their busy schedules to make Holy Cross students feel so involved and valued at their sites. Although we are there to volunteer and help you all out, many times we are the ones who benefit because we learn so much.

The lessons we learn at CBL allow us to come back to Holy Cross and ask tough questions in the classroom in order to have meaningful conversations about the structural reasons behind inequalities. These conversations and experiences remind us what it means to be “men and women for and with others”- which is such an important part of the Holy Cross mission.

To end, I want to thank you all again on behalf of the Holy Cross students that participate in CBL and are engaged in the city of Worcester.