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Training to be advocates

Campus Ministry leaders learn how to advocate for social justice at a Catholic Relief Services student ambassadors summit

July 29, 2018

 

Student ambassadors from California universities gather for a prayer before going into Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office in Washington, D.C., in July as part of the Catholic Relief Services' SALT Summit.
Student ambassadors from California universities gather for a prayer before going into Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office in Washington, D.C., in July as part of the Catholic Relief Services' SALT Summit.

A group of Campus Ministry leaders participated in a four-day conference in July that brought together students from all over the nation who are passionate about social justice. The Student Ambassador Leaders Together (SALT) Summit, organized by Catholic Relief Services, gave the participants training on how to build their leadership, communication and advocacy skills, as well as opportunities to advocate for legislative action on global social justice issues.

The skills-building sessions were held at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Md. The students later headed to Washington, D.C., to meet staff from Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s and Sen. Kamala Harris’ offices.

The Mount’s Karla Sanchez ‘21, Brenda Martinez ‘20 and Julie Tapia ‘21 also participated in student panels, led prayer sessions and sang at Mass.

Gaile Krause, assistant director of campus ministry, said the goal for taking the students to the summit was three-fold: “to help them learn about justice issues around the world and what Catholic Relief Services is doing to build relationships and alleviate suffering; to give them an opportunity to make their voice heard with other students and congressional representatives and to learn from those same people; and to show how Catholic social teaching and idea of caring for the poor in our world is integral to our Catholic faith.”

Brenda Martinez '20 and Karla Sanchez '21 wait in front of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office for their advocacy meeting with the senator's staff.
Brenda Martinez '20 and Karla Sanchez '21 wait in front of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office for their advocacy meeting with the senator's staff.

For Sanchez, the most memorable moments of the trip involved meeting students from other universities. “Even though we were all from different communities, we came together as one community of concerned students and citizens to discuss the issues of migration and global hunger,” Sanchez said. “Hearing the experiences of the CRS ambassadors, I feel motivated to be active both on a local and global level.”

Martinez said the most valuable lesson she learned, after spending time with other students and meeting state representatives was that “people are stronger united than divided.”

The Mount students also got a personal tour of the Capitol from Neal Bravo-Leal ’19, a political science major who was doing a summer internship with Congressman Tony Cardenas. “It filled me with pride to see amazing Mount women in the Capitol and sharing with them my passion for advocacy,” Bravo-Leal said. “It’s essential to use our voice to advocate for others and to make sure our voice is heard.”

The four students are part of the CRS Student Ambassadors program on campus, which the University has had since 2015. Last spring, the ambassadors hosted a lunch-and-learn session for students, faculty and staff that focused on the issue of human trafficking. This year, they plan to host monthly gatherings and occasional events aimed at raising awareness about four social justice issues: human trafficking, migration, global poverty and climate change.

The Mount will host a CRS regional training workshop on campus in September for student ambassadors from other universities to equip them to grow a CRS chapter on their campuses.