Jaspers never take a vacation from living Lasallian! This summer, dozens of students, faculty and staff deepened their faith through service and personal development.
This summer, three members of the College community gathered with 22 like-minded Lasallians from across the country in Tucson, Ariz., for a week-long examination of U.S.-Mexican border issues with the Lasallian Social Justice Institute (LSJI) and El Otro Lado, an immersion program run through San Miguel High School.
The group from Manhattan included Jenn Edwards Robinson of Campus Ministry and Social Action, Christina Cardinale of the Bursar’s office and Diane Atkinson of the School of Business.
“This trip allowed me to see firsthand the hardships the immigrants are faced with trying to cross the Sonora desert, how the border guards risk their lives to protect the U.S., how every day citizens are affected by the immigrants, and how good Samaritans do what they can to help, within the limits of the law,” Cardinale says.
Examining all sides of the issue, the group met with students from San Miguel in Tucson whose families have been personally affected by deportation. Across the border, they visited El Comedor, a soup kitchen and safe haven for Mexicans who have recently been deported or forced to leave their families living in the United States.
“It was all about human dignity,” says Edwards Robinson, mentioning that Manhattan will soon offer a Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.) trip to Tucson. “We learned that you can’t just say ‘them’ or ‘other’ or ‘alien,’ because these people are human beings, too.”
A group of 15 from the College traveled to Texas for the annual summer L.O.V.E. trip to Camp Reynal, a program for children with renal and urology diseases.
Working as counselors with 8- to 16-year-olds who suffer from kidney disease, Manhattan’s students helped create the ultimate summer camp experience by bunking in cabins with the kids, taking them horseback riding and zip-lining, and stargazing together at night.
“It’s the hardest but most rewarding thing you’ll ever do,” she adds. “You get immediate gratification by seeing a difference in the kids.”
The campers come from three hospitals in Texas and are accompanied by a full medical staff, so dialysis and dietary needs don’t have to compete with arts and crafts during the week.
“I’m grateful to have my own health,” says trip leader Katelyn Connor, a junior psychology major. “And I’m proud that our team was willing to have some uncomfortable experiences for the benefit of others.”
Back in New York, Edwards Robinson spent five weeks of her summer volunteering at the Mercy Center, which offers social services, job development training and youth programs to the largely Latino immigrant community that lives in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx.
Edwards Robinson worked as a counselor at the Center’s Camp Rising Stars, assisting with cultural activities and educational trips around the city to the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and even Manhattan College.
“It’s about teaching kids to be global citizens,” Edwards Robinson says. “This resonates with the Lasallian Catholic values of being accepting and open-minded.”
To shed light on these ideals, Edwards Robinson supervised a group visit to a Mosque, so the children could learn about the Islamic religion.
“It teaches them that there’s more to know out there than just being Catholic, just being Mexican or just being from the South Bronx,” she says. “That the world is bigger than their corner of 145th Street.”
For eight weeks this summer, Kathleen White, a junior history and peace studies major, participated in The Fund for American Studies’ (TFAS) Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service in Washington, D.C.
White took two courses at Georgetown University —Ethics of Philanthropy and Voluntary Service, and Voluntary Associations and Democracy — and interned with the Culmore Safe Youth Project in Fairfax County, Va., an educational and recreational summer camp run by the Alternative House, which helps children, many from Latin American immigrant families, stay off the area’s violent, gang-ridden streets.
“I don’t like being a tourist. I like living on the same level as these people,” says White, who worked as an assistant to the program coordinator. “I was at the same center every day, I ate the same food as them every day. It’s important not to be like, ‘I’m here to help, and I’m better than you.’”
White says the TFAS experience as a whole helped her learn different leadership styles and connect with like-minded people from around the country and world.
“Service was important to me before, but these experiences are reinforcing the lifestyle of giving and caring,” she says.
Nelson da Luz, a sophomore civil engineering major, and Lindsey Pamlanye, a sophomore secondary education/English major, spent a week of their summer learning the ins and outs of Catholic Social Teaching.
The Path to Peace Foundation, in partnership with the Holy See’s representation at the United Nations, ran the weeklong Catholic Social Teaching intensive for college students across the country at the Bishop Molloy Passionist Retreat House in Jamaica, Queens, which focused on how to use education to solve problems that threaten human dignity.
“The whole week was mind-blowing, and we only uncovered the tiniest piece,” says Pamlanye, who has a strong interest in joining the Lasallian Volunteers after graduation. “To see that Catholic Social Teaching can be involved in everything. And should be involved in everything.”
Speakers from all walks of life — religious, political, educational — shared their insight on the subject and led trips to New York landmarks, such as the UN, Ellis Island and the 9/11 memorial, examining along the way what it means to be human.
“They call Catholic Social Teaching ‘the Church’s best kept secret,’ but it shouldn’t be,” says da Luz, who hopes to bring some of the speakers to campus through Lasallian Collegians. “Now that we’ve learned, our responsibility is to tell others.”
This summer, Caitlin Read of the Admissions office, Angie Thrapsimis of Residence Life and Maire Duchon of the O’Malley Library took part in the Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif.
A tri-part program, Buttimer takes place in two-week increments over the course of three consecutive summers, during which participants from around the country gather to take a deeper look at the life and mission of St. John Baptist de La Salle and how it relates to their individual work.
“The experience helped keep the focus of my work on recruiting first-generation students, which was always a big part of De La Salle’s mission, to help economically disadvantaged students,” says Read, who completed her first year of the program. “We hope to keep that same mission alive through our initiative, by educating about the college process, financial aid and recruiting from underserved high schools.”
“The sense of community that the Brothers foster is what I took away the most,” adds Duchon, who finished up her final year. “Seeing the same people with same purpose is overwhelmingly unifying.”