On Friday, May 15, 2020, 20 senior Spanish majors were inducted into the Spanish Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi. All 20 students participated in at least one CBL course, with 90% of them first encountering CBL in Spanish 301: “Spanish Composition and Conversation.” Senior CBL Intern, Katie Kelsh was among the inductees. Katie takes to the blog to reflect on how CBL has been so important to her Spanish major experience. Congratulations Katie and to all the senior Spanish majors on this achievement! The Donelan Office thanks the Spanish Department for all that they do to encourage Spanish students to take part in community-based learning. View a video montage celebrating all of the senior inductees, created by Professor Bridget Franco of the Spanish Department.
Lately, I have frequently found myself helping my brother with his Spanish homework. As I sit with him at the dining room table, repeating vocabulary words and attempting to explain to him the difference between the preterit and imperfect tenses, I keep thinking about my own journey with Spanish. During my first year at Holy Cross, after five years of Spanish classes, I signed up to work with the Worcester Public School Transition Program when they came to Holy Cross where I would spend time with them and also be able to practice my Spanish. However, during the first day that I spent with Worcester Transition Program, when they asked me what my favorite meal at Crossroads was, I became nervous and struggled to answer the question. Thinking about that moment, I have realized how important the CBL component of my Spanish major has been. It has given me the opportunity to gain confidence in actually using my Spanish to effectively communicate with others. The simple act of weekly conversation had helped me grow incredibly as a Spanish student. Spending time with my community partners, I was learning new vocabulary, the ways to distinguish between a Puerto Rican and an Argentine accent, and why they call the tasty Cuban dish ropa vieja. These moments were critical to my understanding of Hispanic language and cultures.
My time spent with my Worcester community partners prepared me for my semester spent abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While not technically a CBL experience, living in Buenos Aires for a semester was definitely the embodiment of experiential learning. Having experience conversing with others in a second language helped prepare me for this new adventure. I was experiencing a new culture, speaking a second language, and living in a foreign city. It was truly the quintessential CBL experience. The lessons that I learned from my community partners such as being open to having conversations with strangers, making mistakes, and learning from others helped me through a challenging but rewarding semester. Taking my language learning out of the classroom and into real life meant daily lessons such as the importance difference between llevar and traer when ordering take out and how after many years of Spanish classes I finally started to understand how and when to use the subjunctive. Whether it was through CBL or in Buenos Aires, it has been these moments, outside of the classroom, when ordering coffee or chatting with the doorman as I waited for the elevator, that I finally understood why I enjoyed learning Spanish. It wasn’t knowing exactly when to use the preterit or imperfect tense, rather it was how learning a new language allowed me to communicate, have conversations, and simply connect with many new people. These real-life experiences, many offered by CBL, take language learning to the next level in allowing students to carry their classroom learning into real life, enabling students to learn culture and connect with people in their global and local community.
Recently, I attended the Spanish Honors Society Induction where I listened to my fellow students describe what their time as a Spanish major had brought to their life. Listening to each student speak made it was obvious that the Spanish major was so much more than just a set of classes we had taken. Student after student spoke about not only learning a new language, but the endless opportunity and experiences that came along with that language, such as finding out they could learn and live in a completely different country or getting to know their host mother. This was what we all loved as Spanish majors, the gift of language that gives us the ability to converse and connect with people across the world, people we might have never met otherwise. However, it did take a while to get to that point. The experiences we had and people we met through CBL helped us gain the confidence and knowledge to begin using our gift and I could not be more grateful for that.
Upon the end of their time as Interns in the Donelan Office and their graduation from Holy Cross in May, our seven senior CBL Interns were asked to reflect on one or more of the following questions: (1) What is my greatest learning from being a CBL Intern? (2) How have I grown in my time as a CBL Intern? (3) What will I take with me from the CBL Intern experience into my next step? They each share thoughtful remarks about how their time as Interns has shaped and molded their Holy Cross experiences.
Hannah Benson ’20: My greatest lesson from being a CBL Intern will always be the lesson of collaboration. I have learned that there is so much power in starting new ideas with others. As a group, we inspire each other, and because of this, the outcome can reach its full potential. Not only is this true for the CBL interns but for partnerships with community partners, other CBL Holy Cross students, professors, SPUD leaders, and more. Some of my best ideas come from conversations with others.
It can be difficult to consider my own growth as an Intern, but I know it’s there because I surround myself with people who let me know. I started in the CBL office as a sophomore, went abroad in my junior year, and came back as a senior and it still feels like yesterday that I was given the opportunity to start working closely with the office. I think of examples like taking Professor Sterk Barrett my sophomore and senior years and facilitating discussions in Professor Lipsitz’s “Science of Happiness” Montserrat course for those years as well. These mentors and many more have seen my growth and given me the space to learn.
For me, the most incredible thing that CBL has given me is the fearless ability to take on any project. The world we live in is not perfect, but it is not permanently broken either. There is always room for improvement and what the world needs is people who have the ideas and the willingness to work hard and make it happen.
Jack Chaffee ’20: I would say that my greatest learning from being a CBL Intern is the importance of building relationships that are founded in mutuality and reciprocity when fostering community within Worcester and Holy Cross. CBL provided me with some of the most informative and transformative experiences of my four years here at Holy Cross, and I am incredibly grateful for the lessons I learned along the way, especially about how we engage with one another. During my time as a CBL intern I grew more confident in my abilities to be a leader and peer, while also gaining a much deeper understanding of systematic issues we face as a society. After being an intern for three years, I feel much more confident in advocating for ideas or concepts I believe in, many of which have been formed by experiential learning opportunities such as CBL. Being a member of the intern cohort, and receiving mentorship from the Directors of the Donelan Office, have strongly encouraged me to pursue what I am passionate about. The support I have felt from the CBL Office was important in my discernment of post graduate plans, and I will take this lesson of unwaveringly pursuing my passions with me as I prepare to leave Holy Cross and become an assistant in L’Arche Jacksonville.
Katie Kelsh ’20: The time I have been fortunate enough to spend within the Community-Based Learning community at Holy Cross has taught me many lessons. I have learned how to make delicious empanadas with the Worcester Public School Transition Program and the best strategies to painting French nails from Wanda at Training Resources of America. However, above all, this time has revealed to me the true value of asking a question. I have learned that it is from a simple question, such as “How was your weekend?” that meaningful and lasting relationships can begin. I could not be more grateful for these relationships I have been able to form on and off the Hill through CBL, as they have greatly enriched my Holy Cross experience. Ending my time with the CBL office is one of the hardest parts of leaving Holy Cross, but as I move to my next steps beyond HC, I will carry with me all those I have met through CBL and hope to continue building community, one question at a time.
Will McAvoy ’20: From my time as a CBL Intern, I had the opportunity to learn from my peers and realize that we all have different interpretations of the world around us. I realized this during countless reflection sessions, at dialogue sessions, during the NPCC, during intern meetings, etc. From tutoring children to sitting with the elderly, students would have different experiences between sites. Students also interpreted their experiences differently at the same site. I quickly realized in my first year Montserrat with Professor Ginny Ryan that there was no “typical experience” with CBL. Throughout the years, hearing different students explain their experiences made me grasp the course material in a different way. It was a paradigm shift. To me, that is what makes CBL so powerful; it allows all of us to view our experience in and out of the classroom in a different way, thus allowing us to have a greater learning experience that leaves a meaningful impact on each of us.
I have also learned to embrace silence. This has happened in two places. The first is bedside at the St. Mary Center. I have learned from professors that sometimes the power of being present is simply enough for a resident. Maybe the resident is tired and would rather rest by watching a show with you instead of conversing. Similarly, in small group reflections, I have learned that silence can be a powerful moment for reflection that can allow not only you, but those around you, to reflect on their experiences. From this, I have learned that moments of silence do not need to be filled. Rather, they should be embraced.
Having the experience of CBL has shown me that everyone around me has their own personal experiences that they bring to the table. What I feel in a certain time is rarely the same as someone around me, and that is something that we all need to take into account. Sitting bedside at the St. Mary Center reminds me of my grandmother who passed at a hospice center several years ago. Another student at HC may not have had that experience and would benefit from hearing my story. Similarly, hearing perspectives from others that I personally have not experienced will allow me to learn. I also learned that everyone has their own internal and external struggles that are rarely visible. Having these different lived experiences allows us to be a stronger group. These different personal experiences need to be welcomed and cherished as they will allow us all to learn more from one another.
Fatima Oseida ’20: Being a CBL intern was one of my favorite roles on campus. When I first came to Holy Cross, I did not know much about social justice or what it actually meant. While I was still finding myself, the opportunity of becoming an intern came across, so I applied and gratefully got the position. Ever since then, every day has been a learning experience. Not only did I learn more about social justice, but I also learned about its importance in our community, not only at Holy Cross, but in Worcester. More importantly, being a CBL intern gave me a new perspective on the Jesuit principle “men and women for and with others”, because being an intern is not just volunteering at a local organization and getting some work done. To me, it means to immerse myself in the community and to learn from my own experiences. Now that I am graduating, I came to realize that, through the program, I learned what my true passions are, and that is something that I will be forever grateful for.
Christian Realbuto ’20: The person I am now is completely different from who I was when I first entered Holy Cross – and a significant part of that is because of my experience with CBL and the Donelan Office. CBL introduced me to the strong, vibrant communities that make up the city of Worcester, and allowed me to meet incredible public servants who are committed to their nonprofit agencies that add to the city’s strength and history. CBL has also given me stories of love, along with tremendous sadness. Pain, along with tremendous growth. At the core of this learning has been the incredible power of presence. That’s what we do every week at CBL. We show up. We show up to our sites and share in that vulnerable space, that, by the end of the semester, is no longer just your “CBL site,” but the place where your new friends are, and the place that’s taken a piece of your heart. This learning would be incomplete without cultivating my sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the CBL students who came before me, and paved the way for me to participate in the power of presence. Gratitude for the Worcester Public Schools Transition Program for welcoming me into their community for the past 4 years. And also, gratitude for Isabelle and Michelle – whose commitment to the Donelan Office strengthens our relationship and partnership with Worcester each year.
Being a CBL intern has expanded my understanding of empathy to include different perspectives and contexts. As I learned through CBL, communities — and the people that make them up — do not have “a single story.” In this fashion, service demands that we look beyond “a single story,” and develop intentional relationships that expand upon a person’s whole self.
As I look to make my next steps after Holy Cross, I keep coming back to David Brooks’ opinion piece, “A Nation of Weavers.” “Weavers,” according to Mr. Brooks, “share an ethos that puts relationship over self” and exhibit “radical mutuality” in their relationships to one another. I believe this sentiment encompasses CBL and our community partners. CBL cultivates Weavers – people who recognize the importance of reciprocity and mutually in relationships with one another. CBL teaches that there is no “us” and “them” – there is only us.
Thank you, to the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning any my fellow CBL interns for all the wonderful memories and experiences I was lucky enough to share in.
Delaney Wells ’20: As I reflect back on my various involvements and endeavors throughout my four years at Holy Cross, I can say wholeheartedly that Community-Based Learning has had the greatest influence on the journey of finding who I am at my core, deeply shaping my mind and heart. The relationships I have built at the Worcester Public Schools Transition Program, among other community partners, within the intern community, and in reflection sessions have prompted me to develop a more critical consciousness about our world, our structures, and the way that I exist within them. I am leaving Holy Cross with a personal responsibility to those forgotten and disadvantaged by normative economic and political structures on local and global levels. Through involvement in the Donelan Office I have come to recognize the importance of the touch of the heart in relationships formed through CBL. This significant touch allows us to form meaningful and deep connections with one another which illuminate truths about ourselves and the world around us. I now value the touch of the heart in all relationships and actions I partake in, motivating me to work for justice and equality. I am leaving Holy Cross with the lessons, conversations, and moments through my involvement with community-based learning at the center of who I am, fueling my drive to continue to seek justice.
The Hip-Hop Community in Worcester is legit; there are graffiti artists who paint downtown, MC and DJs who hail from the area and work with members of the Wu Tang Clan, and b-boys and b-girls who teach their craft to local youth after school. Learning about hip-hop, a continually evolving global phenomenon from the Bronx, NY c. 1970, requires one to engage with the here and now. When I arrived back to Worcester as an alum and a Visiting Lecturer in Music this fall, I knew I wanted my hip-hop class to be “in the community.” After many months of planning with the Donelan Office, applying for grants, and meeting with members of the local government and school district, “The Breakdown: Hip-Hop With the Woo Crew” was created—a 2-day long event with hands on learning through a graffiti mural project at North High School led by a local artist (Lamour Supreme) and a public forum on the significance of hip-hop in Worcester with members of the college community (Francis Lubega ’20), local government (Che Anderson ’11) and hip-hop scene (7L and Esoteric).
Leading up to the event, which was to take place April 16-17, my students were involved in a series of activities to help them learn more about the local community and prepare for the event. These activities included a tour of Pow! Wow! Worcester public art and group interview projects with local hip-hop artists. We were well underway with advertisements and curriculum designed to help students at North High School prepare for the event when Covid-19 shut down the college and all CBL activities. Needless to say, my students and I were deeply disappointed that our event would be cancelled.
During the week that faculty had to plan for their classes to go online, I was concerned with how to create community in a virtual way that would offer similar benefits to the students and the community at large. I decided to design a website showcasing the members of the “Woo Crew” alongside a student-run blog. Discussions ranged from the impact of Covid-19 on the Hip-Hop community, to reflections on their role as Ethnomusicologists learning more about the local community through their artist interviews. These last few weeks have been filled with discussions, presentations, and personal work related to the website. In lieu of the hands-on learning programed into our CBL event, students were asked to either conduct an interview with a classmate on their relationship with hip-hop or work on a music or art project. The results were astonishing; projects ranged from talk shows with special guest HC student and rapper Jonathan Abrahams (“Don Jon”) to hip-hop inspired beats, mixes, and fashion. We plan to make the website public on the last day of class and hope that it will serve as a platform for members of the community at large to discuss the significance of hip-hop in Worcester. The bonds made between members of the Woo Crew will hopefully build in the coming months, as well as next spring when I hope to revamp this project with my Montserrat class. Although “The Breakdown” broke down, Covid-19 did not stop our foray into community-based learning.
I have been offered the opportunity to stay in touch with my resident at St. Mary, Vicky, over the past few weeks. The Activities Coordinator at St. Mary, Sandy Geller, has graciously offered her phone as a means to conduct Facebook videocalls. Every week at our scheduled time to visit, Vicky and I have had either a video call or a phone call. It has been great to stay in touch, and I am thankful for Sandy in making this happen!
One thing that I definitely am missing is the garden at St. Mary. Last spring, another Holy Cross student (Megan Treanor ’20) and I applied for a Marshall Grant to establish a garden at St. Mary. We were awarded nearly a thousand dollars to implement a wheelchair-accessible garden where all residents would be able to grow their own fruits and veggies as well as get their hands dirty if they wanted. Vicky was one of the residents who led the charge on this activity, offering her guidance from decades of managing her own garden at her home.
Last year was our first year, so there definitely were some challenges to overcome. However, the garden was a huge success with many residents, Holy Cross students, and families of residents, participating in cultivating the garden. Several residents told Sandy that they now had a purpose in life. Megan and I were proud to have made such a big impact and are thankful for all that helped make the garden such a success.
I was excited for this spring to really grow a fantastic garden. With the current situation, it doesn’t look as if that is going to occur. But one thing is certain: I know for a fact though that once this time of social distancing comes to an end, Sandy, Vicky, and many of the other residents will be outside at the garden. In the meantime, I look forward to staying in touch with Vicky via phone.
To the current CBL students reading this, I would recommend that you reach out to your community partner. Maybe a phone call is something that could be facilitated for your site. You never know until you ask!
The famous quote by Vivian Greene, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain,” has been circulating social media recently to lift spiritsamidst our current global crisis. Each time I have come across it, I have been confronted with wondering how I really can learn to “dance in the rain” while reflecting on what my responsibility to others and the larger society is during this painful time. Although I do not have answers to these questions at this point, my optimism and involvement with the Community-Based Learning (CBL) community has helped to carry me through so far and has prompted me to reflect on these questions.
As a student of a Jesuit institution, I have been reminded countless times of my call to be a woman “for and with others.” Empathy and mutuality have inspired me throughout many of my Holy Cross experiences and continue to be influential forces even as I am learning remotely, physically removed from campus. While early findings suggested that those who were young and healthy were at low-risk for becoming ill, even if they had contracted the virus, I realized that this did not leave my peers and me “off the hook.” I quickly learned of the severity of the spread of the infection as I came home to New York City, the epicenter of the virus. While I would propose that our immediate call to be “for others” is to stay home in order to reduce the risk of transmission, I believe that our responsibility to be “with others” is just as immediately necessary. In these times, I have been reminded of ways to show empathy and to consider the unique struggles and powers of marginalized populations. Through my involvement with CBL, I have gained a widened perspective on various systemic issues that cause certain populations to become vulnerable. Now, I can’t help but imagine how an added global health crisis deepens existing vulnerability and causes major financial and emotional strains on those populations.
One way I am harnessing my lessons from CBL is through unbound presence. In between Zoom classes and meetings, I have found more free time in my daily routine. While I may be tempted to jump right into tackling a “master checklist,” I have tried to embrace these quiet moments. I have realized that the coronavirus does not have a master checklist nor a set end date. As an organized and thoughtful planner, I have become very anxious that the only things that I can truly plan in advance are the meals I am going to eat for the week. Even though meal prep does bring me a lot of joy, it does not provide the level of structure to which I am accustomed. This pandemic has caused countless cancellations for the months ahead, including three summer opportunities I had been anxiously awaiting to participate in. In the absence of planning, I have been approaching each day with minimal expectations. This practice is one rooted in my engagement with those in Worcester. Most of the time at my CBL site I do not have a clear agenda or any expectation of what I am going to do. I find beauty in being present with the students with whom I work. Our responsibility to others, especially those we are living with right now, includes being more present with their needs – whether that means unloading the dishwasher before your family member gets to it or reaching out to an old friend.
As a Catholic, something that I have been reflecting upon is how the Lenten season prompts Christians to “give up” something as a sacrifice to God. I now believe that “giving up” has taken on a new perspective for Christians amidst the coronavirus. The tangible and intangible items individuals must give up during this time has been difficult to witness. My hope is that we, as a society, do not just “give up” completely. Rather, I believe that our responsibility to others is to instead “give in,” to show mercy, and to find ways to be in community with others from afar. Greg Boyle, S.J. beautifully summarized this idea by calling people, in the meantime, “to create fires that keep each other warm. In other words, in these times of physical distance, how can we “keep each other warm” through social connection?
Many people may be stuck in the mindset of viewing their days in relation to the number of days “stuck at home.” Instead, I propose to channel the hope of the message of Greg Boyle, S.J. to live out this time of social distancing as “one day closer to normal.” Even as we move forward in hope, viewing each day as one “closer to normal,” these times in which we are living are a “storm,” particularly for individuals and communities who are marginalized. Tragically, this “storm” has yet “to pass.” And yet, can living in the present and acting upon our roles and obligations to one another be our way to “dance in the rain”?
The last few days we had on campus were filled with abrupt goodbyes, a range of emotions, and the harsh reality that we would all have to leave Holy Cross. CBL students were informed of the cancellations, and suddenly, something that was once so integral to our learning was gone. For my CBL, I volunteer at Rose Monahan Hospice Home on Friday afternoons. During my visit on February 28th, I informed the staff that the next week I would not be in for my shift because of spring break. The nurse told me that the resident I had been meeting with may not still be there when I returned, so I should say goodbye. That day, my resident and I had a lovely time together watching cooking shows. At the end of the visit, I expressed my gratitude for the time we had shared, and her smile warmed my heart. I took a long time saying goodbye, as I knew it would most likely be the last time I saw her. When I was leaving my shift that day, I said my normal goodbyes to the healthcare team, not thinking much of it.
Fast forward to our first week back from spring break. A new panic about COVID-19 permeated campus as everyone eagerly awaited the email regarding Holy Cross’ plan. When I read the email about CBL cancellations, I was very shaken up. I was concerned for Rose Monahan because the home operates by relying on volunteers, and it is a high risk community of COVID-19 infection. At that moment, I was very thankful I was able to say goodbye to my resident, and hoped that other residents would also be able to spend their final moments with their loved ones. I also felt guilty because I didn’t give the Rose Monahan staff a proper goodbye, for I didn’t know my last visit would be my last visit.
I reflected on how I could still express my appreciation for the home and say a more heartfelt goodbye without actually visiting. I decided to make cards for all the residents and send a letter to the staff thanking them for all of their hard work. While it was not how I would have chosen to say goodbye, it was still a way to communicate with my community partner. In terms of saying goodbye in this new environment, I would recommend reaching out to your community partner and spreading some words of support. Kind words can go a long way in times of crisis and may offer the reassurance they need.
A few years back a fellow CBL intern, Kara Cuzzone ‘19 and I started posting little sheets of paper outside the CBL office door. If you have ever passed by our door in Smith Hall I hope you have noticed how decorated it is with events, quotes, and artwork. The inspiration for this came from a journal account on Instagram that wrote plain and simple, “take what you need” with perforated tabs inviting a passerby to simply rip off a word from the bottom of the sheet. Kara and I wrote things like wisdom, peace, love, hope, passion, and confidence and it has been popular ever since. This was a peaceful project for us too, as every few weeks the sheets would become empty and we would draw another one.
When Kara graduated I really started to miss her artistic talent so I took to my computer and found that the Canva app could give me at least the appearance of artistic talent. I also found that I could print more pages, have more variety, and add more color to the idea. Just to spend a few minutes each week thinking of a holiday themed page or a new Spanish phrase was something I really enjoyed. It still baffles me today that people actually take them. I remember sitting in the office one night with the door slightly open and I kept hearing noises at the door. In the moment, I assumed it was another intern trying to play a trick on me, but as I was leaving, I realized all the words were gone and I had just witnessed people visiting the door.
I have expressed to some trusted mentors these past few weeks that what makes me most nervous about the abrupt end of my last year at Holy Cross is that I have to be apart from everyone. I know I am not alone when I say I feel like I can get through anything if I can sit with my closest friends and laugh, hug, and cry about it. So, our last few days on the hill were bearable but now comes the hard part.
This shift to remote classes means you can’t pick up a slip of paper from the door of the CBL office when you truly need it most. It means I won’t walk into the office next week to create a new page and hang it up. So, I find myself adjusting, as we all have recently, to see if we can make what was once so accessible in person, available in the digital world we now live in. These days we have a responsibility to one another to just simply check in. Even if it’s just a word or two, it can make a difference, just like a word from the door. I am confident that if we do this well it can feel like we are together again and we can get through anything.
If you are someone who frequently took a word or phrase from the CBL door for yourself or to share with a friend, please reach out! Though we may not physically be together, a hope and goal of the CBL interns is to continue to cultivate community. So, if you are in need of a word or saying to lift you up on a long day just send an email to CommunityBasedLearning@holycross.edu with the subject “Words from the CBL Door,” and I will make sure you get one!
The drastic changes to the academic program due to the coronavirus pandemic have certainly impacted Community-Based Learning (and all of the programs in the J.D. Power Center). We continue to be deeply sorry that the semester had to be cut short in the way that it has, and we continue to be available to support our CBL students, our CBL faculty, and our community partners. These are unprecedented times, but the community that has been built through CBL is lifting us up and helping us navigate this unchartered territory.
One way we have felt uplifted is through brainstorming how CBL, volunteering, and other forms of experiential learning can continue in remote and virtual ways. Some of our community partners, students, faculty, and folks from the wider AJCU and service-learning networks have shared ideas with us about continuing CBL and other service-related work. Interested in continuing volunteering in some way? Review the suggestions here and report back to us about what you’ve been up to! Questions about any of these suggestions? Reach out to Community-Based Learning.
Current CBL Community Partners Looking for Remote/Virtual Assistance (Contact Isabelle Jenkins in the Donelan Office to learn more and get connected):
This list contains remote/virtual tasks specific community partners have reported to us that they need at this time. It is preferable that students who have already worked with these organizations sign up for this work, but community partners are also happy to take on new volunteers. We will share additional volunteer opportunities as we hear from our partners.
Ways YOU Can Offer to Stay Involved with your Community Partner:
Don’t see your community partner or an opportunity of interest to you listed in the previous section? If your current community partner or other agencies you are connected to remain operational, you can reach out to them directly to see if they are in need of your remote/virtual support. You could offer to:
Create marketing, social media content, or other print materials for future use
Support the development team by researching grant opportunities
Assist in communications with their students/clients/residents
Conducting virtual or phone-based educational supports for youth and adults
Conducting background research or gathering best practices or other information your partner could find useful
Assisting in any assessment, evaluation, or feedback processes via phone or web-based services
General Ways to Support/Volunteer/Assist Others During this Time:
There are “unofficial” but important ways to support and assist others in your communities and in your networks doing this time:
Google Hangout/Facetime conversations to counteract the physical social isolation
Collect extra craft/art supplies, books, videos for families with kids at home
A kind note/letter to organizations staying open to serve communities at this point in time
Interrupt xenophobic reactions on social media or in conversations
Calls or emails to elected officials to advocate on behalf of needs in this time
Notes of thanks to those in leadership roles or in positions that are not able to stay home
While the coronavirus pandemic has called us to change our patterns of behavior and our interactions with each other, it has not changed our responsibilities to one another, and it has not changed the Holy Cross mission of standing for and with others. Staying connected to your communities in virtual and remote ways either though official opportunities or through general care and concern is a way to continue to enact the Holy Cross mission and to continue your experiential learning and growth. The Donelan Office and the J.D. Power Center are here to assist you in this important work.
It feels incredibly “right” that I am finishing my time at Holy Cross where I started, in a CBL course. I have taken quite a few along the way, but as I searched for classes I made sure I would have in-class reflection and discussion about my site with my peers. I am so grateful for the depth of relationships I have been able to form with my professors and classmates alike in CBL courses, and this semester taking both “Seeking Justice” and “Liberation Theology” I am granted that opportunity. I am certainly not taking it for granted, as my moments here on the hill are numbered, and am appreciating every minute of discussion.
Right now I am sharing time with G, a young woman participating in the Job Corps curriculum in Grafton as she studies to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. I had gotten to know G through the Worcester Public Schools Transition Program and am grateful to still be able to spend time each week with her at Job Corps as she has transitioned out of WPS since turning 22. I have been a witness to her resilience and am in awe of her strength as she has entered this new opportunity with her head held high. She has navigated a very complicated transportation system to get there, has met a whole new group of people she has never known before, has been introduced to a difficult curriculum as she prepares to take her CNA exam, all while laughing and soaking up the world around her. It makes me sad to think that my time with G is limited, as is my time at Holy Cross. I can only imagine her thoughts as she prepared for her transition from WPS to Job Corps: saying her goodbyes, eating in the cafeteria one last time, and savoring her final walk to the library as she bid farewell to a place that had become home. Yet, none of this is evident in our conversations and her experience at Job Corps. She is truly present in each moment, working through all of her studies with extreme care while meeting new friends each day.
I hope to channel G’s bravery and courage as I enter a new chapter of my life. As I transition from my life on the Hill to my life in West Hollywood, LA as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in August I must live more like G. I hope I can be half as outgoing, as hardworking, and full of life as I leave my comfortable, lovely home on Mt. St. James and forge a new path in a very new and unfamiliar place. I am so endlessly grateful for my time and relationship with G for more reasons than can be named, and will hold these in my heart as reminders of home and courage as I move very far away. I know that even though G will not be in LA with me, our time together will be etched in who I am forever.
It is one of the most exciting times of the year at Holy Cross- the Community-Based Learning intern application is finally available! Two years ago, I was a freshman who had my eyes set on doing well in my science classes to achieve my long term goal of becoming a dentist. I was a very ambitious student, taking the three STEM classes that everyone advised not to take together: chemistry, biology, and calculus. My fourth class, my Montserrat class, was a class that my naive freshman self thought would not be useful and enjoyable because it was not related to the field of science. However, to this day, my Montserrat class ended up being one my favorite classes I have taken at Holy Cross, and a class that I will always be thankful for because it introduced me to CBL.
Through CBL, I was able to reconnect with my elementary school, more specifically, with my 6th grade teacher. Every week, I have the opportunity of going back to my 6th grade classroom and assisting in teaching the kids the English language and the subject of math. Just ten years ago, I was a kid that was struggling to read, write, and speak the English language. Who I am today is largely because of the amount of work, time, and effort that Woodland Academy has put into me during my time there. To be able to give back a little of what my elementary school and teachers had given me is an absolute privilege, and I cannot be thankful enough to CBL for allowing me to do so. This experience revealed to me just how much I love the Worcester community, how much I want to learn more about it, and how much I want to give back to it. Through CBL, I am able to do all of this, and this realization pushed me to apply for the CBL Intern Program at the end of my freshman year.
In addition to this, other aspects of the program also intrigued and excited me. I was most looking forward to building my communication and leadership skills through working with community partners, students, and staff. From being a CBL Intern for the last year and a half, I can confidently say that I have accomplished this and more. CBL not only helped me become a more well-rounded student, but also a well-rounded Worcester resident and individual. Ever since freshman year, CBL has become my family, and I feel so thankful and fortunate to be a part of this program. If you share the same excitement for Worcester and CBL, I highly encourage you to consider applying!