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Students from Louisiana visit their members of Congress as part of the CRS Student Ambassador Leadership Training Summit in July 2016
Together, We Make Tomorrow a Better Place
Living in a world that seems to be devoid of peace, love, and hope can make one feel helpless and scared, especially as a young person. But my 3-day trip to Loyola University in Baltimore to take part in Catholic Relief Services’ Student Ambassador Leaders Together, or SALT, summit made me feel the opposite of helpless and scared. I came away empowered and impassioned with the mission of God.
I had no clue what to expect since I am a relatively new CRS Student Ambassador for my school, Cabrini University. But I couldn’t have picked a better opportunity to embark on. It was such a transformative experience to watch other young adults put so much of their time, effort and dedication into global issues. Together we create an impact. Together we bring peace, love, and hope through Catholic social teaching. Together we make tomorrow better.
Each ambassador busily jotted notes on presentations from advocating on campus to designing simulations so that we could take back some of the ideas to our own schools. I think that is what made me understand how much all of us care about the world we inhabit. The intelligent, thoughtful questions that were constantly posed throughout the summit put hope back into my heart as I thought of our greater purpose here on Earth.
On the second day, all of the ambassadors had the amazing opportunity to head down to CRS headquarters in Baltimore to hear powerful talks on human trafficking, climate change, and refugees. What struck me was the human trafficking presentation. I have been advocating and addressing the issues of climate change and refugees for almost a year now and had not given much thought to this other serious problem. Now it will be part of my mission to bring awareness and change for those who are trafficked.
We ended our stay at headquarters with an awe-inspiring speech from CRS President and CEO Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo. Cabrini University’s mission is education of the heart, and Dr. Woo communicated that as she commanded us not to buy into the narrative of fear but to serve others as God calls us to do. Her words ignited a fire not just in me, but in all of us – to cultivate our spiritual life and go forth with strength.
As our last day came to a close, I felt that CRS had prepared me for this next exciting step: our trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress! With the power of knowledge and passion, the CRS ambassadors were ready to convey our mission of working toward a better future for all. As they addressed issues of climate change, refugees, and human trafficking, I saw my fellow ambassadors live out the words of Dr. Woo. There was no ounce of fear in our hearts (maybe just some butterflies in our tummies!), and we strived to effectively advocate – one way we can serve others and be the change we wish to see in the world.
I am so impressed by the work other schools are doing, and how CRS appreciates the dedication we have by providing us with summits and other outlets to express our love for creating a better tomorrow. We all have a greater purpose in this life, and I believe God made us that way. He created us to feel empathy for others, to be passionate about the life we live and to create a world of togetherness. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world.”
CRS and the ambassadors are living out this command. We aren’t conforming to the sad, scary standards of this world; we are changing the standards of this world – with faith of a better tomorrow, with hope of a brighter future and with hearts full of God.
This reflection is by Casey Semenza, digital communications and social media major at Cabrini University. As a CRS ambassador, she’s helping to build awareness and advocate for global issues on campus.
About the CRS SALT Summit
The SALT Summit, organized by Catholic Relief Services in July 2016, brought together student leaders and advisors to learn how to organize and engage their campuses to work for global solidarity through CRS. The summit included prayer and reflection; community-building; opportunities to connect with CRS staff and other experts and to share strategies for maintaining that engagement; skill-building workshops on communications and advocacy; the opportunity to meet with lawmakers; and presentations on human trafficking, refugees and migration, and climate change.
About CRS Student Ambassadors
Through the CRS Student Ambassador program, colleges and universities form on-campus chapters of student leaders who are trained by CRS to mobilize their peers and bring to life the mission of global solidarity on campus. Chapters are connected to one another and CRS in order to build a national movement for social change. For more information, visit university.crs.org.