Service learning through travel

By Shannon Keough
April 30, 2009

Shannon Keough

Traveling to Ethiopia, Africa, for eight weeks isn’t the ideal vacation most students have planned for the summer. However, for Beth Briggs, junior psychology

and sociology major, nothing could seem more appealing.

“I wanted to have first-hand experience with global poverty and apply my passion for global solidarity and social justice in a meaningful way. I felt that it would help me define service and figure out what I as an individual can do for those who are suffering.

I also wanted to force myself to practice what I preach-to live simply-and immerse myself.”

Briggs was selected as the Catholic Relief Services International Intern for summer 2009, in which she will work closely with CRS evaluating a local program on food security program and sustainable agriculture.

While she’s not entirely sure what her work responsibilities will be, she knows it is going to be research-based and will involve

collecting and analyzing data, interviewing recipients of the program and reviewing documents on the partnership. As a CRS Food Security Ambassador on campus, she is looking forward to this work.

“I hope to gain a better understanding of food security and how it affects individuals of the world, as well as more knowledge of how CRS helps these people and how I can bring knowledge of their work back to campus to inspire people to make a difference.”

Briggs admitted that while she had the same viewpoints in high school, she wasn’t really involved in service until she came to Cabrini College. At Cabrini she feels she is able to “apply my viewpoints to something practical and meaningful.”

As a freshman, Briggs was chosen to sit on the CRS Advisory Committee, which she will continue to do until she graduates.

In her sophomore year, she became a CRS Food Security Ambassador, collaborating with other students to make people aware of the issue of food security.

Food security isn’t just having food to eat; it’s having the availability, access and utilization to foods necessary for life.

“Since getting involved in service, I felt compelled to serve overseas, going to impoverished areas,” Briggs said.

Like many 21-year-olds would be at this time, Briggs is nervous and knows that there are challenges that lie ahead. Her main concern is “adapting to the new culture to avoid offending anyone.”

She is also worried about her nutritional needs because she is a vegetarian and doesn’t know how that will factor in. Briggs knows that a challenge will be not communicating often to her family and friends.

“I feel like my enthusiasm is outweighing my anxiety at this point. I’m looking forward to meeting my goal of having first-hand international experience.”

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Shannon Keough

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