Get to know our senior CBL Interns as they prepare to graduate on May 21, 2021. Congratulations to Gabi, Jeremiah, Paige, Emma, Caitlin, Yesenia, Anh, and Jack on all of their achievements! (Note: these spotlights were originally written for the Donelan Office newsletter and are re-posted here.)
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? The area of social justice work that I am most passionate about is food injustice. I strongly believe that most Americans are not aware of the food insecurity that is present in our country and how much our current food system is destroying both communities and the environment. This area of social justice is particularly important to me because our country has enough food to feed everyone, yet so many people are hungry and do not have access to proper food. The inequalities of our current food system are unjust and change needs to be made.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL experience has been the relationships I have formed both in the Worcester community and the Holy Cross community. I was so fortunate to form such a strong bond with Sr. Marie, my resident at St. Mary Health Care Center, and I will cherish our friendship for the rest of my life. I learned so much from her and I miss our visits dearly. The relationships I formed on campus with other students and faculty members have been so transformative for me as well. I truly found my home away from home within the CBL community.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? After graduation, I will carry with me the value and importance of relationships. CBL has taught me that at the core of service is relationships, for it is only when we enter into relationship with those around us that we can truly be people for and with others. A major part of what drove me to physical therapy was the relationship nature of the career. I want to form bonds with patients and continue to build community wherever I go.
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? During my time as an Intern, I have been introduced to a wide variety of social justice issues, including youth poverty and disability rights. One issue that I have recently become passionate about is food injustice. My first-year at HC, I attended a spring break immersion in Wheeling, WV, where I learned more about food injustice and spent time farming. I love to cook and eat, so I have found this issue to be pertinent in my life and hope in the next coming years to engage in work to address this important issue in my community.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? There have been so many different aspects of the CBL Intern program that have been influential. I most enjoy meeting and engaging in discussion with individuals who are passionate about justice-oriented issues and community engagement. I also have noticed that it has allowed me to appreciate Worcester more, and develop a sense of curiosity to explore the city and value its diversity and uniqueness.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? After graduation, I hope to continue my engagement with the communities I live in and do more to promote justice. I not only want to be involved in direct service with others but also advocate against injustices. Although I am not exactly sure what the future holds for me, I do know that I want to continue building community with others, to work to create a more just and equitable world.
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? I am most passionate about hospice and elder care ministry. I grew up bringing Communion to area nursing homes with my mom on Sundays, and I became a trained hospice volunteer through my CBL Montserrat at Holy Cross. It has been so meaningful to get to meet and spend time with so many at home in Atlanta and now in Worcester.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL Intern experience has been the opportunity to lead reflection sessions in CBL classes. I love getting to introduce new HC students to the CBL experience. I always feel like I’m learning and growing by listening to students’ reflections, too.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? After graduation, I am moving to Boston to begin working for a consulting firm. Although my work is not ministry in itself, I want to be very intentional from the start to be involved in my community. I am looking forward to joining a Catholic parish in Boston and getting involved in their senior ministry — maybe even becoming a Eucharistic minister to the homebound as my mom has been for years. I will also be committed to learning about my new community and being open to opportunities to serve in any way I can.
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? I am most interested in environmental protection. Ensuring continued, equitable access to critical resources like water on a global scale advances responsible agricultural practices and promotes public health. Natural resource scarcity is increasing rapidly due to the effects of climate change without the restoration programming or corporate regulation efforts necessary to mitigate such decline. This environmental degradation challenges civil society and places stress on previously-sound diplomatic relations. As a result, I think natural resource scarcity, is an increasing threat to national security and international stability. To prevent conflict, protect the global commons, and promote public health, new programming and policies must be created.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part has been learning from and alongside the other interns. Each of us chose to join the intern cohort because of our unique experiences, and each of us brings a different perspective to the program. It is energizing to work collaboratively peers who have a shared love for engaging with the Worcester community and discussing local and global issues through a critical, hopeful lens. The plurality of CBL partners makes it so that I will never personally be able to experience the many programs taking place at every site, but I have the next-best-thing of getting to hear my peers speak so passionately about their CBL experiences.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? One of the greatest lessons I will take with me following graduation is the ever-present opportunity to engage deeply and responsibly with the communities I reside in and benefit from. Though I will be leaving Worcester, this city and its people have welcomed me so consistently and I hope to be an equally active member of every community I am a part of in the future. To prioritize being a responsible community member, I will be intentional in learning about the history, culture, and intricacies of the places I call home. My time in Worcester has taught me that the more you learn about a place, the more you discover there is to do in that place, and the more you love that place.
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? My experience as a CBL Intern completely ignited my interest in rights for the undocumented migrant population, my initial interest flourished into an interest in education for English Language Learners. As a first year I engaged with Ascentria Care Alliance where I met weekly with an undocumented migrant who was learning English. The bond we created, facing new challenges each week in our attempt to communicate with each other, grew immensely as the weeks went on. As I continued as an intern I began to engage with the WPS Transition Program where I have made the best friendships with the WPS students, who are also in a situation of attempting to maintain a bilingual and multicultural identity in a society where citizens are truly encouraged to assimilate to an American identity and English language. My identity has grown as a Spanish speaker as I have connected with so many whose perspectives are so different from my own. Further, my experiences with these groups of English Language Learners grew my desire for the education system to respect the identities and work more cohesively and symbiotically with these students.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? I am not exaggerating when I say that being a CBL Intern has been one of the most incredible aspects of my experience at Holy Cross. This group has brought me the most fulfilling sense of community both on campus and in the Worcester community. I am incredibly grateful for all of the large and small moments I have had with all of my fellow interns and Isabelle and Michelle, in addition to the conversations that have challenged me and enlightened me during these past 4 years. There is truly something special about being a part of a group that shares my passion for social justice and I am never not learning from each and every member of this group. The people are what makes a place meaningful and current and past members of this community have done that for me I cannot wait to continue to grow as a passionate citizen seeking justice alongside the graduating and graduated interns.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? I have found so much meaning and purpose during my time engaging with English Language Learners that I know my future will involve this passion to some degree. Yet, CBL has been about more than my engagement, although the connections I have forged in the community have truly emphasized what it means to be with others, I will continue to be for others in my pursuit of knowledge and education. CBL has reminded me to always think about why things exist in the manner that they do and how we can identify and challenge structural injustices. Further, to not only educate myself but to engage as well, to have difficult conversations and to not stray away from hearing a different perspective. It has also gifted me with reflection, something I know I will continue to rely on as I continue in my journey. Ultimately, I hope to never stop making connections with those who I share time with, especially those who are less privileged than myself, and to never stop learning.
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? The area of social justice that I am most passionate about is immigration. I am passionate about immigration because of my personal experiences in seeing some of my family members go through their immigration process. Seeing the challenges in immigration such as language and financial barriers motivates me to work and advocate towards a society where resources are more accessible for undocumented immigrant communities.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL experience is being part of a community… una familia. Being part of the CBL Intern cohort provided me the space to meet other students and individuals who have similar passions as me. What I hold close and dear to my heart are the CBL Intern meetings in which I had the space to reflect on the work that I was doing and what I was learning from the community I was serving.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? Being part of CBL has taught me the importance and meaning of service. Before coming to Holy Cross, I enjoyed engaging in volunteer opportunities, but I never took the time to truly reflect on what my actions meant in addition to the lessons that I take away. After graduation, I hope to work in immigration law, where I hope to carry out my values and be a person for and with others when working with immigrant communities. I hope to handle immigration cases with empathy and understanding while acknowledging the lessons that I will learn from these experiences.
Anh Nguyet Phan
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? I am most passionate about the social justice issues surrounding healthcare. The U.S. spends more on healthcare for individuals than any other country, yet this increase in expenditure has not translated to more accessibility, quality healthcare, and higher life expectancy for American lives. This past year, the pandemic has really highlighted how vital access to healthcare is as many struggle to access tests and treatments. I want to learn and get involved in this to help individuals and communities get the care that they so desperately need.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my CBL Intern experience is getting highly involved in my Worcester community through my work at the Worcester Public Library and at Woodland Academy. I have met so many incredible individuals who have shared with me their passions and dreams, as well as their worries and concerns. My first year, I was fortunate enough to work with a group of adults of various ages to help them study for their citizenship exam. Being an immigrant to the U.S. and having gone through what they are currently going through, this opportunity really hit home for me. My sophomore, junior and senior years, I was able to work in my elementary school, Woodland, with my 6th grade teacher. These experiences made me feel purposeful, grateful, and pure bliss.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? My experiences through CBL have taught me to be a better listener and a more reflective person. These skills are crucial in my everyday life, and will become extremely important down the line as I navigate through dental school and work as a dentist. Being able to actively listen to the patients and reflect on their concerns is a vital asset that I will always carry with me. Equally as important, CBL has really taught me the value of being a person for and with others. Service has been a cornerstone in my life. Worcester has given my family and I endless support and resources to help us flourish when we first arrived here. Now, I am trying to give back a fraction of what they have given me and my family. However, for me, becoming a person for and with others goes beyond acts of giving and charitable service. Instead, it means finding a central love, understanding, and acceptance for all people. As a future dentist this means seeing beyond my patients’ illnesses, and seeking to understand how their beliefs, culture, and other external factors contribute to who they are.
- What area of social justice work are you most passionate about? My largest fascination with social justice and social change has easily been surrounding education. My family is full of educators, from professors to middle school teachers to special education aides. In our lives, education is often taken for granted, especially when we consider the stark disparities in the quality of education received by children of different backgrounds. I’ve spent a lot of time grappling with questions of education during my time as a volunteer in the Worcester Public Schools and with the Nativity School of Worcester, and I look forward to working more closely on education reform as I pursue a career in government and public policy.
- What has been the best part of your CBL Intern experience? The best part of my time as a CBL intern has been facilitating and participating in the language circle through the Worcester Public Library. It’s been fantastic to keep up with my Italian skills while also getting to know different Italian speakers in the area, whether they be other college students or natives of the Italian country and language.
- After graduation, how will you carry the lessons and values of CBL with you? I am in fact in a course this semester with Prof. Sterk Barrett of the CBL office dedicated to precisely the question of how to be “for and with others” after we leave the Hill. My experiences in CBL and with questions of service, justice, and faith will be absolutely central to my identity as a professional. At this point, I’m remaining patient about what my next steps might be. Above all, I want to be certain that who I work for and what I’m doing is making the world a better place, regardless of how long it might take to find the right fit.