As a result of spending most of my life in the Chicago area, I have enjoyed living in the small-town Michigan environment that Alma College has to offer. I am blessed to have found great friends, professors, and support networks through Greek life, participation in choral groups, and the Model UN team on campus.
My most recent experience with Catholic social teaching involved a trip with one of my professors to the U.S./Mexico border to further our awareness of the issues surrounding immigration. We stayed at the Columban Mission house in El Paso, Texas and visited the town of Nogales, Arizona as well as the Nogales that sits on the Mexico side of the border. While in Mexico, we visited a women’s shelter; we heard stories of women that have no other choice but to go through the desert with drug cartels and, often repeatedly, risk their lives in an attempt to see their families. What opened my eyes on this trip was the realization that the current discrimination against the Hispanic population in the United States is not unique to the topic of immigration. At the beginning the 20th century, European populations suffered through discrimination as well. It saddens me that our van full of college students was simply waved on as we passed through a security checkpoint on a southern New Mexico highway—profiling at its best.
One of the themes of Catholic social teaching that sticks out to me the most is the concept of solidarity. I see solidarity as hope towards better understanding different views and lifestyles. If I were in the migrants’ shoes and faced the broken immigration system that exists today, I would do anything to reach my family even if it meant risking my life. As a Catholic, I strive to further understand the diversity within the Catholic faith and support programs that welcome all into its community. I am proud to be a raised Catholic and I enjoy lessons from the Bible that give me strength through life’s obstacles. I want to continue to be open to different faith perspectives because I believe one can never stop learning from other people.
In two days, I am hopping on a plane for a spring term in Europe with this same professor. We will be visiting various sites from WWII that have helped mold the modern global perspectives of human rights. I hope to soak up the experience overseas and learn about cultures I still may not be able to understand after I leave, but I will broaden my view on their lifestyles. Soon after this trip, I will be on my way to Washington D.C. I am excited to meet my fellow interns and further my understanding of faith and how I can apply it to my day-to-day life. I am ready to learn more about peace and conflict resolution associated with extractive industries.
As I prepare for this internship, I continue to question if I am ready to take on so many new experiences this early in my undergraduate education. Similar to others my age, I am not sure what I want to do with my life, but I know that I am fired up by the thought of seeking justice for another. Moreover, I hope to further my education about world issues and how they may be solved. There is so much to be done in the world for human rights; I do not want to believe that someone else is doing the job for me. I am confident that this opportunity with the CCAO will help me narrow down my life goals and connect me to the future I seek.