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Month: April 2013


First post! Here I am!!!

Please excuse me while I update my new website!

HUGE shout-out to my mentor, supporter, and professor I never had in college but wish I did (so i’m taking advantage now)…Jerry Zurek!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Salamat po. <–There’s some Tagalog for you!

Looking forward to updating my site with informative links, inspiring articles, insightful images and posts full of goodness.

Be right back – adventure calls! And…here we go!!! Never a dull moment in the life of crystal. Thanks for coming along on my #missionofgrace.

[Cabrini Style] Arts. Research. Scholarship.

[Cabrini Style] Arts. Research. Scholarship.

Last week, Cabrini held its annual Arts, Research, and Scholarship Symposium which featured the creative accomplishments and research on various topics from Cabrini students.

Wandering around, it was pretty cool to ask the students about the research they conducted over the course of the past couple semesters and to learn about their results and conclusions.

I remember asking a number of the students what their motivation was for choosing the specific subject of their research, and at first they said, well, it was an assignment…but then, the more they did research and explored deeper into their work, they wanted to find conclusions and obtain the results themselves. The students worked hard (you could tell!) and they were knowledgeable about the research they conducted. Bravo Cabrini students!

Here are a few pictures of the posters and the students that put in great effort and energy towards their projects:

This freshman student conducted his research on “Dating Violence.” I told him how I was happy that he was a male looking into this issue, and he shared with me how his whole group was comprised of other men, and he was most surprised about how prevalent this issue is, especially among college-aged students. Next steps? He said that with the knowledge he has, he wants to be able to turn others away from dating violence. Sweet.
This group helped out at Philabundance, the region’s largest food bank and hunger relief organization.
This group has connected with Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland, via our recent visitors that came in January and are looking further into ways that they may support the mission. The group provided them with cameras, and hope they will be able to showcase the photographs taken in Swaziland, in Fall 2013.
Patton…comparing history with the film.
Danielle, a graduating senior, explored the correlation between religious beliefs and media usage, and how that affects attitudes towards dating, relationships, and sexuality. She’s going to be a great teacher someday! She already is!
Donald, one of our CRS Ambassadors, conducted research on immigration and the perception of college students on the issue. As an advocate for immigrants, it was great to see him speak with others about his research. One of the staff members asked him for his opinion on the ECG courses, and of course, he shared how a great majority of his ECG knowledge and expertise came from classes with Jerry and through the comm department. (no bias from me!)
This group conducted a marketing campaign for the issue of Anti-Bullying, especially on campuses. With the increase of violence among students and bullying at that, this was a video they created to further their efforts.

Lastly, one of the classes that I worked closely with, was Global Leadership. Comprised of individuals from various majors, they took on the issue of Human Trafficking. They spent their year learning more about the issue, and in terms of leadership, were given the task of researching a “not-so-popular” leader. During their session in the afternoon, each member of the class shared a brief bio on their chosen leader, and shared their reflections on what they learned about human trafficking.  It was great to hear how the students drew connections between themselves and their selected leader. If they were into sports, they chose a sports figure who was active in an area of working towards the common good. One of the students who had a strong affinity with music, chose a musician. The anti-human trafficking video they created, with the super duper help of Laura and Megan, is shown here:

The idea of this video is to create a campaign on the issue of human trafficking, as it has hit home locally here, near King of Prussia. This video serves as a challenge to other college campuses, to research more into the issue, and to also create a video for advocacy and awareness. Please spread this and share the hotline number with others!

This Symposium emphasizes that insightful and wonderful work is being done with and by college students. Be hopeful for our future!

Now, I just pray that this momentum keeps itself up after leaving the college walls. Great job everyone!

CRS. Integrity. Stewardship. Relationships. Learning.

CRS. Integrity. Stewardship. Relationships. Learning.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of our non-graduating CRS Ambassadors had the opportunity to be part of a University Consultation held at the CRS Headquarters in Baltimore. Comprised of other local Catholic colleges and universities who held CRS Ambassador chapters or were looking to start one on their campus, there was great representation from faculty, staff, and energetic students!
One of my personal highlights was when I came to realize that the facilitator and organizer of the entire program was Lou – an Augustinian Volunteer who was assigned to USD while I was a senior on campus! Six years later, we were reunited on the east coast through CRS! Small world indeed, this world of volunteers and service organizations. It was great to see him!After exchanging ideas, best practices, and having the opportunity to share CRS Chapter experiences, as faculty, staff, and students, we then got to take a tour of the CRS Headquarters.

Basically…this was the Disneyland for any individual interested in International Development and Aid. Seriously. And, if you’re a comm major, all the comm equipment was an awesome added bonus! 🙂 This was a great little trip in the week, and I believe it gave the group an added sense of CRS Ambassador pride in representing Cabrini College. I mean, it did for me at least! Looking forward to seeing where the CRS Chapters make their next moves on college campuses. There’s lots of energy and great work to be done. I’m feeling hopeful!

So blessed to have had this opportunity to see where the “magic” happens – well, at least the backbone of it. Thank you Jerry for getting us home safely, driving us through a number of thunderstorms! Yay!

A definitely inspiring day.

Check out the pics:

Brandon and Emily presenting some of their thoughts…
Jerry was even included in Lou’s presentation!
After a packed day at CRS HQ, it was time to head out!
View from the top of HQ
Our fearless leader, Jerry!
In the “Situation Room” – the clocks. Amazed. CRS is everywhere!
Where CCGP and CRS hold their webcasts and other press-related events
Sue Toton and Jerry!! Villanova and Cabrini – TOGETHER!
Jerry loving the equipment. Of course.
Pretty day in Baltimore

And that my friends, was our beautiful day in Baltimore. We all need inspiration and motivation to keep goin’ and keep working for social justice. It was extremely enlightening to feel the energy in the room among the members of the colleges, and to realize that we are all working towards the common good to achieve social justice, peace, and change in the world. Support is GREAT. Yes! Onward and onward!

what do you do?

what do you do?

what do you do when you see a situation going on in front of you that you know is wrong? how do you react? do you turn away? do you try not to get involved? or do you stare?

or do you start to look away while still thinking to yourself…what should i do?

a thousand scenarios come to your mind of what could happen to you if you step in…but there are also a thousand possibilities of what could happen after you leave the scene.

the past couple of weeks, i’ve been hearing more and more of these situations. here are some that have found a place for pondering and reflection in my mind:

* one of the professors who i work with shared with me a story from her recent travel overseas. she was walking along the street in Lithuania, minding her own business, when she saw a young girl probably in her mid-teens in not-so-good shape, begging for money. she then saw her being brought into an alley and being pushed between a couple of larger men. this professor being the activist warrior that she is, followed the girl into the alley, and acted like an innocent tourist. she had her camera on hand, got closer to the girl (who she said smelled like drugs, sex, alcohol – the whole deal), and asked someone to see if she could take a picture with her…cause that’s what tourists do, right? just like a tourist. well, for this professor, she mostly wanted to get a picture of this girl and the situation, because in her mind, this very well may have been a missing child’s case, or who knows. strategic, huh? that was her method of breaking it up, hopefully relieving some tension in that situation, and snapping photos of a particularly harmful situation. unfortunately, pics of the others didn’t come out as clear, cause her stealthy hands were covering the lenses. these pics will then be forwarded to proper local organizations that deals with these matters. would you intervene like that?

* in one of my classes, one of the brothers was talking about a situation when he didn’t know what to do – he’s an ex-army guy, pretty big, and as he was leaving the store, he saw this man beating his son pretty bad…like, very bad. brother didn’t know how to react because hey, let parents discipline their children the way they want, right? or, no? if you see something like that, how do you react? he said the man was bigger than him too, so he was obviously a little bit more intimidated. / one of the suggestions in our class was, to divert the individual’s attention, like, potentially ask the person for the time – anything to get that person out of the daze of beating his child. another case where you are sitting in a restaurant and at the other table, there is a ruckus of a mother yelling at her child for spilling a drink. do you just listen to the noise going on at the booth right next to you? or do you ask if everything is ok?

do you keep minding your own business?

* how about in new york city? when you see a mother yelling at her child reallllll bad, cussing up a storm and starting to hit her kid on the subway? do you step in?

we may have learned/are currently learning about these issues in our classes…we read books, we have discussions…but what happens to our reactions in real life? are we so bold then? or do these first-hand experiences provide us with a different perspective?

Covenant House – Philadelphia

Covenant House – Philadelphia

I recently had the great opportunity to join one of our professors and her class to visit Covenant House – Philadelphia. Covenant House is an organization that serves homeless youth – many of who have been victims of human trafficking and prostitution. Operating 24 hours a day, the shelter in Philadelphia has 51 beds and plenty of mats, should the need present itself to offer a safe haven for additional youth. On an annual basis, over 500 kids are served at this site, and it is their hope that the youth will take advantage of the programming to better themselves and keep themselves safe, out of harm’s way.

Anti-Trafficking Shirt from Baguio City, Philippines

Of course, that’s not always the conclusion of their stories – they are free to leave and sometimes they get caught up right in the situation they were in before.

One of the programs offered by Covenant House is in Street Outreach, in which they go out on the streets and have conversations with whoever they find that may be in great need of one of their services – food, shelter, clothing, a safe space – basic needs. Many times the youth they come in contact with are involved with prostitution and as a result, have to utilize a number of strategies to be careful when engaging in these conversations, especially since their pimp or “john” may be within a distance. The last thing they want to do is get the victim involved in an even greater conflict.

Also, trainings are essential. In many cases, trainings with hotel staff and maintenance workers are very much needed and conducted by the Covenant House staff because they are the ones on the front line every day, seeing who comes in and out of their doors. While we always have to be cautious about generalizing what a “trafficked” victim may look like, it is important to be aware and always alert.

…Don’t act like you don’t see what’s going on, or not want to get involved…

The staff shared stories of how one of the girls that found refuge in Covenant House, was trafficked. She connected with her friend from the South, stayed here locally in Pennsylvania with her son, was promised to be taken care of, and the next thing you know, she was trafficked more than 20 times. It was then that the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition stepped in, got involved, and started to track down the perpetrators.

They then continued and shared a story of a younger girl around the age of 14, who worked at a nearby salon and her uncle took her to the doctor for a check-up because of medical issues. Turns out, she had numbers upon numbers of STDs and STIs. She was out there in the public every day, working in a salon during the day, in the view of everyone, but in the evening, she had another job that brought her those physical and mental wounds. The question is, “How come no one every wondered or asked why this young girl was not in school?” They stressed, trafficking victims may not always be so discreet…instead, there are victims that are everyday seen in the general public, and so we must train ourselves to be aware and to be alert to these realities that could literally be staring at us in the face. And the traffickers are not always strangers – they are sometimes in the victims’ families themselves.

Of course, this is not to say that we are to label and start dialing in on our phones when we see a 14-year old girl working in a restaurant on the weekend or what not… she could be the daughter of the owner! But, it is important to be aware.

This is not only a city problem in major cities like Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. This is an everywhere problem, with one of the first cases of trafficking taking place in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Very local.

The average age of those entering prostitution is between 12-14 years old. 12-14 years old.

12 to 14 years old. Unreal.

And so, with this, it is my hope and desire that we continue to engage in these conversations, have these discussions with our peer groups and stop the demand for prostitution. It is not “cool” to be a pimp, and people are not commodities. This could be your sister, your daughter, your son, your brother. Because people can be used over and over and over again, it is a much more lucrative business than drugs and weapons. A $32 billion dollar industry. Wow.

Needless to say, I was left inspired once again by the efforts of Covenant House and saw that truly, we can each play a part in making a positive change in society. Let’s respect one another, not use one another, and try to build up, rather than tear down each other.

Looking forward to the day when we can sing songs of peace and speak out, rather than remain silent.