Cabrini and Villanova students and faculty, along with Catholic Relief Services staff, were motivated by the extensive training event hosted at Villanova University this past weekend.
Over 15 Cabrini students attended Villanova on Saturday, Sept. 14, for the annual Catholic Relief Services training event for ambassadors. The day was scheduled for many different activities to get the ambassadors up, active and inspired. However, this year was different from previous years.
Peggy Jean Craig, CRS relationship manager/university liaison, the lead speaker and person in charge of the event, was energized all throughout the day.
“We have been getting ready for this training event for months and months. We designed this new training format, so we are very excited for today and we see you all as extremely important, agency wise, but even within our university cross divisional team,” Craig said.
All throughout the day students gathered in small groups, in a comfortable and warm environment, by first opening up about personal experiences that inspired them to become a student ambassador. This way everyone was included and worked together to establish a closer-knit relationship between Cabrini and Villanova.
CRS is a nonprofit organization that has over 5,000 employees who work mostly over seas in different third world countries helping the domestic people. Teaching basic life skills and peacemaking strategies, CRS was first established right after World War II when there were an ample amount of war refugees. CRS has also worked with refugees from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, North Korea, Ecuador, and in nearly 100 developing countries.
When asked what exactly drew Craig into her work with CRS she said without hesitating, “The combination of faith, international development and working with college students.”
Some goals that were established at the beginning of the event were to introduce and explain what CRS does, to inspire, to build capacity, develop a work plan, and to build a community. These goals will be a major impact on this year at all campuses nation-wide, but were tested on the students of Cabrini and Villanova before, since they are of the first founding CRS college chapters in the country.
Clare Pressimone, senior social work major, social justice minor and president of Cabrini’s CRS Ambassadors, worked at the CRS headquarters this summer, “I was able to do some development work on immigration for college students, and they are still working on those materials.”
The focus has completely turned around for the better at CRS, where this year, more students will have a voice, giving their input and leading discussions. There was also talk of more collaboration between both Cabrini and Villanova, making this year the building blocks for the rest.
The three goals that were given to each ambassador specifically this year were: educate, action and formation.
Sara Garwood, co-president of Villanova’s CRS Ambassadors, spoke about her goals for this year: “Engaging the Villanova community and expand that engagement out amongst our intercollegiate community with Cabrini, and focus on engaging our student body.”
Collaboration between both colleges throughout the day truly benefitted each school. The talk of walking together on Oct. 5 for the Immigration Reform walk was also brought up at the training event. CRS Ambassadors will be going to Philadelphia to walk among others who believe our immigration laws need to be reformed.
Lilly Hatheway, junior American studies and political science double major and new to the CRS program at Cabrini, touched on her first experience, “I was excited to get involved in planning programs for our campus and to get ideas and suggestions from students at Villanova. It was great to see the collaboration between schools, seeing what programs were effective or not effective for their campus.”
Both schools follow a list of issues that the congressmen discuss after their recess. The first on that list is immigration where both schools will be setting up conference calls, meetings and gatherings where they can sit down, discuss some ideas from previous years and any additional ideas for this upcoming year and write letters to congressmen.
“CRS has given me an opportunity to really work on these things, learn about them and also give me the opportunity to develop public speaking and leadership skills within the context that I am interested in,” Charlie Bates, economics major, humanities minor and co-president for Villanova’s CRS Ambassadors, said.
Not only were the CRS universities executive board members there from the campuses, however there was a wide variety of new members ranging from freshmen to seniors.
Returning CRS Ambassador, Ashlee Grazier, senior business and administration major, spoke specifically about what this training event did for her, “The training was awesome, which is definitely preparing me for the semester. I felt as though I was more confident to go into this year because of the training.”
The turn out of freshmen and seniors were especially surprising. Coming out to an event with people you do not know can be very startling.
Hatheway shed some light on the day, “I had a great time at my first CRS Ambassador training. It was awesome spending time with students from Cabrini and Villanova to focus on our ideas for the school year and understand more about how we can work on our campus using resources and engaging more people. I think what was most inspiring was to see that we all had the same vision as CRS Ambassadors. We all just want to get more and more people involved and aware of the issues that affect people everyday globally. “