“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
The word “advocate” contains two Latin roots ad and voc. Ad means “to support or recommend openly” and voc means “voice or call”. I believe the meaning of this word “advocate” can best summarize my internship experience at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO).
Through working on mining issues, mainly in Latin America, I was consciously aware that I spoke on behalf of someone else rather than my own interests. Since I had no prior knowledge on the extractive industries in Latin America, I realized quickly that I needed to understand the situation before I could do any advocacy work. After all, how could I know the interests of others without listening carefully to them? I was grateful that through the CCAO I had opportunities to listen to most up-to-date stories related to extractive industries.
Furthermore, I was connected to a network of people who passionately pursued justice by respecting God’s creation and defending human dignity. As a community of advocates, “it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
I also had the privilege to engage in legislative advocacy and spoke with some of the congressional staffers on Capitol Hill. This experience encouraged me to stand up for my belief in the public square and convinced me (once again) of God’s love for the poor and the vulnerable.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). This internship provided me an opportunity to die for myself and live for others. This way of life, I believe, leads to true happiness.