CRS trains students on campus

By Chris Sarvadi
September 19, 2010

Sr. Arleen Flaherty, CRS Justice and Peace Partnership Liaison, speaks with students regarding the potential Sudan crisis. -- Jerry Zurek/Submitted Photo

Catholic Relief Services Ambassadors from Cabrini College and Villanova University were educated on their five social justice issues including fair trade and microfinance, HIV/AIDS, migration, human trafficking and food and water security. CRS, a partner of Cabrini College, held its annual student advocacy and ambassador training in Cabrini’s own Grace Hall on Friday, Sept. 17.

CRS Ambassadors work to bring awareness to college campuses on these social justice topics. Popular events that have occurred in the past include the annual Fair Trade Walleyball Tournament and various lobbying efforts in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

“CRS partners with Cabrini and Villanova, working with students to help them grow in awareness in global issues and help them take what they learn and share it with others by  engaging the ambassadors in advocacy and enhancing their ability to engage others on the important issues.  The whole idea of CRS is that we are all one family,” Candice Harris, CRS advocacy program officer, said.

Over the course of the day, students broke into their five issue groups and were educated on each issue for over an hour by CRS experts in Baltimore via Skype.

“The training is just the beginning of our efforts. Over the course of the year, CRS Ambassadors will be involved in various advocacy projects that will bring awareness to the Cabrini College community on these issues,” Eric Gibble, senior communication major and CRS Ambassadors president, said.

Manhattan Ishimi, junior chemical engineer major from Villanova, was excited to see the solidarity between students and the promotion of the common good.

“It is really good to see college students coming together to promote justice and advocacy rather than just charity.  Not just in a college community scale but in a worldly scale working with CRS Global.  Not only is it an opportunity to help others but also one to open our hearts,” Ishimi said.

Sr. Arlene Flaherty, CRS Justice and Peace Partnership Liaison, who works mostly with CRS Global and college programs, was excited about the turn out.

“It was really good and the level of commitment was high.  It’s not always about the quantity but more so the quality,” Flaherty said.

The Justice Matters curriculum enacted in 2009 is now a requirement for all Cabrini freshmen. The program has distinguished Cabrini from other higher education colleges in the nation.

“Cabrini and the commitment they have to global issues, a commitment from the president, now engages all their students in a global education,” Flaherty said.

CRS is not only able to respond to the ongoing issues of hunger but also ones of significant proportions such as the 2006 tsunami and the devastating earthquake that occurred in Haiti this past January.

“As the situation rises, we as an organization see an opportunity to prevent massive death and destruction rather than to react and respond to it,” Flaherty said.

The main conference was about raising awareness for the up and coming crisis in Sudan. CRS is planning to mobilize students to work with other groups in the area to bring media attention to the potential political instability in Sudan.

“CRS challenges students to be the key to helping solve the world’s problems because they are the key to change in the world that we live in,” Flaherty said. “The difference in Sudan verses Rwanda in the terms of genocide is that this one is preventable.”

Chris Sarvadi

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