Connections made in the CCAO bring staff and interns new insights.
As the seasons change and the weather cools, we are provided with a yearly opportunity to pause and give thanks for our many blessings. Something for which we are especially grateful this year is all of the connections and relationships we have been able to make with our interns. Over the past few years I have watched our internship program grow and have been thrilled to invite more and more individuals to the shared table of mission.
If you have a passion for justice, there are many ways for you to get involved in mission—through completing an internship, participating in one of our volunteer programs, joining an Affiliates group, attending a retreat and more. Some specific ways you can get involved right now:
Our internships correspond with academic semesters, which means that three times every year we welcome a new group of young people into our office and introduce them to the ministry of justice and peace advocacy. We are given three unique chances each year to learn from and be inspired by those who feel called to give freely of their time to further international peace and justice. However, this also means that three times a year we have to watch as the incredible young adults who have been part of our lives walk out of the office as their term of service concludes. In the CCAO, we have a tradition of not saying goodbye, rather hasta luego, see you later. We like to look at the actual time of the internship itself as just the beginning of a relationship with the intern. We are always grateful for the time spent with our interns in the office, and hopeful for future connections with them as they move on through life.
We are thankful for the chance to know and learn from our interns; they have taught us much about faith and about having a passion for justice. We have learned alongside them as we investigate the various advocacy priorities of the Columbans. They have shared their expertise with us, on peace and justice issues and more technical ones, such as how to navigate Facebook (Columban Fathers / CCAO Office) and engage individuals in mission online. We hope that their experience in the CCAO is as fulfilling and transformative for them as it is for us.
Every so often I am given the chance to marvel at these relationships that have been built through shared mission work and to give thanks to God for bringing our interns into the life of the CCAO. When a former intern comes to visit the office, helps out at a volunteer service fair, responds to an action alert, attends a retreat or sends us a postcard from where their life has taken them, my heart is touched, and I am reminded how truly blessed we have been.
I am always pleasantly surprised when I am presented with a chance to reflect on these relationships, and in the past few weeks the opportunity seems to keep coming up. I would like to share with you some thoughts we have received from former interns about the chance to re-connect with each other and the work we share. Hopefully you will be as inspired as I was by their passion for justice and their commitment to improve the world we live in:
Before I began interning at the CCAO, I can honestly say I was blind or apathetic to many important issues taking place in our world. Throughout my time with the Columbans, I was able to not only learn more about the issues we work to resolve, but also how they directly affect me, and what I can do to help make the world a better place. Interning reminded me that as a child, it was always my dream to “save the world,” a dream many people have but tend to lose sight of. I may no longer be an intern, but I have worked to hold onto my recently discovered knowledge of world issues and how important it is for us, as Christians, to help those in need. -Bill Braun, CCAO Intern 2010
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to intern with the Columbans. This was the first internship I had, and it helped me focus on what I wanted to accomplish in the field of global health. During my internship, I was around fantastic people that made me feel I was working for a higher purpose. Now that I have entered “the working world,” I try to bring that same positive energy and hope for the future I learned while working with the Columbans. -Paula Carazo, CCAO Intern 2008
Less than a month ago I visited the Columban’s tiny but vibrant Washington, D.C., office for the first time in over a year. The last time I had set foot in this office was as an intern focusing on Southeast Asia and climate change- two issues that I have continued to be passionate about since my time in this office. Even to this day I can’t help but monitor the news on the ongoing, and unfortunately stalled, climate change bill as it winds its way through our legislative process. Without a doubt, my time as an intern with the Columbans has drastically and positively shaped how I view and embrace the world.
Returning to the office was also an incredibly special occasion. Since leaving the office, much has changed in my life: I have gone abroad and am preparing to finish my college degree. Despite these changes, it was incredibly refreshing to catch up with my old supervisors, co-workers and even meet the new intern. While my time interning with the Columbans changed me for the better, it pleased me to see that they are still doing the same good and beneficial work that they always have been. -Austen Walsh, CCAO Intern 2009
After an amazing year in the U.S., I am back in Paris to study for my graduate degree. However, the Columban flame is still here and now, I can see the global nature of the issues that I researched as an intern. I also found some hopes here, especially regarding climate change and the protection of the environment: there are even experts and lectures on climate migration at my university! I wish you good luck with the amazing job you’re doing. You all remain in my prayers. -Elodie Besnier, CCAO Intern 2010