“Reflections on a Year in the CBL Intern Program,” Alison Maloney ‘23

My experience with the CBL Intern Program began nearly one year ago. Looking back on the past year as an intern, I am so grateful for all the experiences this opportunity has provided me. Since my acceptance into the program, I have had the chance to meet so many wonderful people within the Holy Cross and Worcester communities. From my involvement at Holy Cross through the program, it has been a sincere joy to get to know members of the Donelan Office and the J.D. Power Center. Through reflection sessions, interviews for the J.D. Power Center newsletter, and office hours, I’ve been able to connect with so many different students, faculty, and staff members. Conversations with all these individuals have taught me so much more about community engagement, other student organizations, and Holy Cross as a whole. It also has been truly fulfilling working with a community partner site as well. Every Tuesday morning, I visit St. Mary Health Care Center where I get to chat with elderly residents and participate in their morning activities. I had not been able to visit a site for community engagement since 2020 so getting back to this weekly practice has been very special to me.

Amidst all these wonderful developments this year, it still seems like yesterday that I was applying to be an intern. I can remember filling out my application with so much excitement last spring. After the fall semester at home in 2020, I realized how important participating in a community was for me. I really had missed meeting new people, learning about others, and working together with peers. At that time, I also recalled how much I enjoyed working with the interns in Professor Ryan’s Montserrat course, “Identity, Diversity, and Community.” The interns really had a positive impact on my class and our learning—whether it was through their reflection sessions or office hours, they really helped us to embrace the process of learning both in class and at our CBL sites. These prospects of being able to participate in this process of education and engaging with others, as well as the chance to join a new community on campus, really motivated me to apply to be an intern.

I still can remember the mixture of nerves I had the day of the interview. Interviews were conducted online last year over Zoom, and I recall fidgeting at my desk in front of my computer as my interview time approached. While I had prepared all I wanted to discuss, studied the program itself, and even formulated possible questions to ask, I still felt a bit worried about how the interview would go. These worries gradually subsided a little after the interview began. Everyone on the call was so welcoming and friendly, and I soon found myself talking about my experiences and qualifications for the program with ease. I felt so grateful for the amount of preparation the interns did for the interview as well as their ability to make me feel comfortable. From the very beginning, even this early in the process, I felt truly welcomed by the CBL interns. Such a welcome only continued upon my acceptance as an intern and into my junior year—making intern training and further engagement with the rest of the Donelan Office even more special.

The interview stage of CBL intern selection begins again for this year. I am excited to see this side of the interview process and to hear about other students’ experiences. I really look forward to extending this same tradition of welcome to all candidates now and into next year. Serving as a CBL intern has been such a highlight to my experience at Holy Cross, providing me with practical experience, cherished friendships, and ample opportunities to learn about others and myself. I can’t wait for our future interns to experience this as well in the year to come.

“The Importance of Reflecting and Embracing the Process” – Anthony Mabardy ’24

Reflection is something that may seem unappealing to many at first glance. To some it may seem unnecessary or cringe, to others it may seem to force meaning into things that do not have much of it. During the majority of my first year, I easily fell under this category. Although I understood that the reflection aspect of service was important and was able to participate in related exercises, I never was able to truly find its significance within myself.

Once I became a CBL intern, my job was to lead reflections and other discussions in a plethora of CBL classes. These were mostly Montserrat classes for first-years that were in positions similar to mine just a year ago. Much like my first-year self, many first-years understand that participating in CBL and doing service is good, but have yet to discover how much it can really do for them and for others. The way I discovered this was by embracing the process of reflection.

You may be asking, “How exactly can I ‘embrace the process’ of reflection?” While it may seem straightforward, embracing the process of reflection is something that I always struggled with. Being a discussion leader as a CBL intern I’ve learned the importance of being an active participant in discussions and finding meaningful ways to interpret my experiences as well as learning from the experiences that others may have at their sites. Understanding that you can learn directly from the experiences of others is also key to gaining meaning from reflections. When sharing my experiences, I’ve learned to focus on the impact of stories that I share and less on the actions themselves. Many students go into reflections with the intentions of telling interesting stories or acts of kindness that they performed or someone did for them. While these actions are important, focusing on how these stories made you or someone else feel is how we grow from the reflection process. This is embracing the process. Being able to bring out your emotions to learn about yourself from your service experience as well as how certain actions can impact the lives and feelings of others. By letting our guards down and accessing our true thoughts we are able to reflect more productively on our encounters and mature as humans. That is how we learn from our CBL experiences and how CBL reflections have changed my life for the better.

In my CBL site at the Nativity School of Worcester I have been tutoring middle school students once a week this past school year. At first, I knew that what I was doing was good, but I wasn’t sure why it was beneath the surface. Once I started reflecting on my experiences with others, I found the true meaning in my service. For example, I often draw with some of the students when they finish their homework as opposed to forcing them to do extra math problems. The action itself seemed rather insignificant to me. However, by reflecting on the story, I realized that doing this made the students really happy which in turn brought me joy as well. This is because I was building true connections with the students I was tutoring, which made both them and myself feel part of a greater community and friendship.

Reflecting on my experiences has allowed me to discover why I do service. Being able to reflect has allowed me to find purpose in my life and my everyday activities. While service can seem very surface-level at first, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and express your emotions through reflection can make a once a week experience last a lifetime.