At Cabrini College, students progress not only academically but also develop a strong moral sense, a fundamental message that started when the College was founded in 1957 by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The focus of an “education of heart” changed many viewpoints for those students who enrolled in an ECG 300 class known as “Working for Global Justice with CRS,” taught by Dr. Jerry Zurek, professor of communication.
As part of the class, 11 students went to Washington, D.C., to speak with their senators from Pennsylvania and New Jersey on Friday, Nov. 30, and to explain how the foreign aid budget helps people around the world become self-sufficient. The students arranged meetings with the senators’ foreign policy aides. The class worked closely with Catholic Relief Services.
“We had the chance to lobby in Washington D.C. about cuts in the foreign aid budget,” social work major Clare Pressimone said. “It was a really great experience to be able to voice our opinions and talk about something close to our hearts.”
Along with Pressimone, many students who were nervous to speak to their senators’ representatives on foreign aid cuts had an overall eye-opening experience and were surprised to see how accessible the government truly is to their constituents.
“It really humanized the politicians you only hear or see about on television,” English major Daniel Boyle said.
Being able to sit across the table from the people who write our nation’s laws and receive feedback whether it was positive or negative truly allowed the class to “work for global justice.”
A social work major, Victoria Werring, who recently changed her major due to her commitment and passion for the common good, was invigorated by the whole trip.
“I was nervous for no reason,” Werring said. “It was a comfortable conversation where the representatives of New Jersey not only agreed with our opinions on foreign aid cuts but encouraged us to ‘keep doing what you are doing.’”
Poverty-focused international humanitarian and development assistance comprises only about 0.5% of the federal budget and cuts will cost lives of those already suffering around the globe. The opportunity to lobby for the betterment of the world was an experience that inspired and moved a class where at first some students had neither awareness nor care for such issues.
The students met with foreign policy aides to Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
“To get feedback that was positive really shows that people are actually listening to us, that our voices do matter,” Pressimone said. Their voices and their actions that Friday afternoon were a reflection of the genuine meaning Cabrini all started with.