Living the Jesuit Mission through the J.D. Power Center

Every student knows the foundational principle of a Holy Cross education by heart; we are, and we become, men and women for and with others through the educational emphasis on learning for the greater benefit of the world. During my last four school years, each class that I have taken has given me a glimpse into how the information applies to the real world. Whether it’s discussing the politics of globalization or reading Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, my professors have always shown me the material’s relevance to the world, and what it can do for others, in whatever form that entails. 

My academic experience of the mission, and the way that it’s grown within my intellectual pursuits would not be complete, however, without my participation in the various programs that the J.D. Power Center provides. Through classes, we learn how to understand the world and how we can think and act for others, but through experience, we learn how to act with others. This combination of class and experiential learning, understanding how the skills learned in the classroom apply to the world and to real people, is truly where the Jesuit mission at Holy Cross becomes evident. 

My first experience with integrating my classes with the world was during the spring semester of 2021. I participated in the Academic Internship program and enrolled in the course Women and the Law while interning with an immigration law firm in Worcester. The course looked into the intricacies of the female experience under the law, and I was able to see many of the topics we discussed in real life during my work experience. I understood on a more complex level, how and why some of these clients were in the positions that they were in, and I was able to assist their cases much better because of the background knowledge I had from class. And the experience of my internship helped me better understand my class material as well because I had something to apply it to. 

I have the same sentiment with my CBL component of one of my current courses. I’m working with the Accessibility Advisory Commission for the City of Worcester, and not only am I helping the city with an important project, but also, I’m applying what I learn in class to work for the and with the chairpersons of the commission all to benefit the residents of the city. The collaboration in the pursuit of service is made easier when I have the experience and the knowledge to do it. 

The experiential learning programs that I have participated in within the J.D. Power Center has significantly enriched my learning, but most importantly going forward towards life after Holy Cross, it has expanded my ability to live our mission, men and women for and with others, throughout my life.

Anne Comcowich '22 - J.D. Power Center Ambassador
Anne Comcowich ’22 – J.D. Power Center Ambassador

Experiential Learning: How It Has Impacted My Time at Holy Cross

I spent the Fall 2020 semester participating in the Washington, D.C. Semester Program. This program was an experience that I was interested in before I had even applied to Holy Cross, so I was excited to begin the journey after my acceptance. I ultimately landed on an internship with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in their Security Operations and International Operations offices. What I valued most about my internship experience was the balance of autonomy and trust my supervisors gave me while also always working tirelessly to engage with me and find projects that fit my interests. My classes and professors at Holy Cross prepared me well to tackle all of the projects that I worked on. One example of this is that my supervisors frequently asked for my feedback and review on documents before they were submitted, valuing the writing and revising skills I had developed at Holy Cross. Going into my internship I took this knowledge, but also an open mind knowing that there was so much to learn in the work environment from my colleagues and projects I was doing. Although I was working almost entirely on Zoom, I was exposed to lots of new experiences, learned so much about both the TSA’s mission and connected my academic studies to foster intellectual and personal growth. As the J.D. Power Center’s mission is centered around experiential learning, my holistic experience in D.C. embodied all of its most important traits.

Washington, D.C. has so much knowledge to offer that I knew I wanted to expose myself to and educate myself on as much as possible. Experiential learning is synonymous with hands-on and visual learning, taking education from something that happens solely in the classroom to something that we immerse ourselves in every day. Other students in the program and I visited as many of the Smithsonian’s as we could, such as the National Zoo, Museum of American History, Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Air and Space Museum (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center) in Virginia. We also took a tour of the Sully Historic Site (formerly Sully Plantation) and were fortunate enough to do a tour of the White House. Additionally, I took advantage of the motorized scooters around the National Mall and took in the various structures and statues along the way. All of these experiences were opportunities to learn and to engage with pieces of history first hand. This learning challenged us intellectually but there was also a social – emotional aspect that made it even more powerful. The Washington Semester Program provided me with new opportunities to connect information I had learned in the classroom to real-world situations to find even deeper meanings. This learning also helped build a better sense of appreciation and built upon the liberal arts foundation that Holy Cross offers. 

For my thesis project I wanted to expand on my internship with the TSA and academic interests and explore a topic with real world ramifications. I was working closely with the International Affairs office and as an International Studies major I knew this was the perfect blend. Through my work at the TSA, I learned about their dedication to aviation security and that on an international scale its administration can get messy. I found in my initial research that aviation is a crucial part of our world, so I categorized it as a global public good or a good that is critical to the well-being of the citizens of the world. Throughout the writing process I developed my central thesis statement and ultimately focused on the international ramifications of private-public partnerships and increasing international bodies’ ability to regulate the supply of global public goods. I was fortunate enough to win the Vannicelli Award for the most outstanding thesis produced in my semester in the Washington Program. Last month, I presented my research and findings to the campus community and was honored to share a piece of the hard work I put into my thesis. I learned more about this topic than I ever could have imagined, but it was also an opportunity to strengthen my writing and research skills which will be valuable for any path in the future. My experience in the Washington Program inspired me to become a Center Ambassador for the J.D. Power Center during my senior year and to begin pursuing opportunities in International Affairs after graduation. Finally, the work that I did at the TSA, lessons from the classroom and experiences traveling around the city have fostered the tools I need to be successful both academically and professionally.  

Washington, D.C. Semester Program Information: https://www.holycross.edu/academics/holy-cross-approach/engaged-learning/semester-away-programs/washington-semester-program

Author:

Keegan Ernest ’22 – J.D. Power Center Ambassador

Spotlight: Policy and Politics in America (AIP Seminar)

The Academic Internship Program that’s supported by the J.D. Power Center consistently offers enriching opportunities to synthesize both academics and real world experiences through its seminars that are exceedingly interesting and relevant to world affairs. One of these seminars, Policy and Politics in America, taught by former congressman Tim Bishop ‘72 and longtime political consultant Peter Flaherty ‘87, is an impressive academic course centered on student engagement with the real world of politics. The winter 2019 issue of the Holy Cross Magazine reported that through the mission of fostering opportunities for experiential learning in mind, the J.D. Power Center supported the creation of this course to cover experiences in and around politics. Two educators were then selected so that the course did not have a partisan bias. This course intends to provide students with comprehensive understandings of important House and Senate races in midterm elections, particularly the 2022 midterm elections, in tandem with the following result’s consequences on policy debates. One of the goals that this seminar has is to transcend partisanship and engage in more productive political conversations. Guided by well qualified instructors and frequent guest speakers, students participate in high level discussions and develop deeper comprehension of the political system in the United States and of the various career opportunities that grow alongside government ones such as grassroots organizing, voter outreach, and campaigning.

The co-teachers, Mr. Bishop and Mr. Flaherty, both also exemplify how purple runs deep, and that the Holy Cross community is full of support networks and exciting connections. Bishop graduated from Holy Cross in 1972, followed by his brother Chris ‘74, and he has remained in contact with a fair number of his classmates, including Fr. Hayes of the Chaplains’ Office. Flaherty graduated from Holy Cross in 1987. His brother, Chip, graduated in 1986, his son, Peter Flaherty III graduated in 2021, and two nieces are alumnae and one is a current student. Even though 15 years and differing political orientations may seem to separate these two alumni, they really do practice what they preach. Coming from different backgrounds has not been a barrier between a joyful friendship built on mutual admiration. Teaching a seminar, engaging students, and inspiring up and coming political leaders, has further forged their bond, and this is reflected in the strength of their course.

Bishop’s favorite part of teaching the seminar is interacting throughout the years with “uniformly impressive” students. He says that they are consistently, “bright, engaged, committed, interested in playing their part to make the world a better place, and also committed to the central ethos of HC-education for others.” Flaherty echoes this sentiment as he says, “The prism through which the Holy Cross students see the political landscape is rooted in an admirable and refreshing selflessness with an eye toward contributing to solutions, rather than focusing on divisive rhetoric.” This praise of students is hopeful for the future of our country considering both he and Peter Flaherty have supported a fair amount of students in getting jobs in politics, government, political consulting, and more. Notably, with Flaherty’s help, a class of 2019 graduate, Carter Mitchell, obtained a position with a political consulting firm. Mitchell will also be a guest lecturer for the class on October 26. Students who have taken this course also have held a various array of internships that adds interactions with colleagues and coworkers to the academic experience. Some of the internships that students in the course hold this semester are with the Federalist Society, Worcester Court Service Center, Framingham Centre Common Cultural District, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Worcester District Attorney’s Office, Gray Panthers NYC Network, City of Worcester Elections Committee, Coresight Research. There are often students in gubernatorial and congressional internships and respective campaigns as well.

To expand upon to the course’s relevancy to current political conversations, the co-teachers consistently bring in highly qualified guest speakers. Some of the names on the expansive list include:

Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Governor Walz of Minnesota, Governor Inslee of Washington, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Representative Linda Sanchez of California and Representative Adam Schiff of California, former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III, Former White House Chief of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and former Governor of New Hampshire John Sununu, Former U.S. Senator and U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown, Former Whitehouse Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Barack Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, President Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Jamie Harrison, Pollster for President Trump James McLaughlin, and pollster for Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg Jef Pollock, one of President Trump’s lead attorneys Jay Sekulow, political consultant John Lapp, Dana Bash, John Berman, Chris Cuomo and Kasie Hunt of CNN, Phil Rucker and Ashley Parker of the Washington Post, and more.

Students in Policy and Politics in America have the priceless opportunity to hear from high powered figures with diverse voices and opinions. The guest speakers hail from almost every aspect of politics, from elected officials, big names in media news, and everything in between. Every speaker brings important insight to the class that helps further mutual understandings of politics and the reality of the political sphere. Bishop says that, “listening to both Jim Clyburn and Jamie Harrison speak about growing up Black in rural South Carolina and then rising to the heights they have achieved was both powerful and inspiring, and hearing a no nonsense guy like Governor Sununu talk about his focus on results as opposed to politics was a real lesson in what is missing in our current political discourse.”

The mission of this course was reiterated by October 19th’s guest speaker, Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey, who said that there’s a current desire from the nation for more humble and grounded politics. That’s exactly what Bishop and Flaherty aim to teach and instill in Policy and Politics in America, and they are having excellent success with it.

Holy Cross Magazine: https://news.holycross.edu/blog/2019/01/07/two-alumni-political-world-veterans-teach-course-examining-politics-from-inside-out/

Author:

Anne Comcowich '22 - J.D. Power Center Ambassador
Anne Comcowich ’22 – J.D. Power Center Ambassador

All in a New York Minute: A NY Semester Cut Short by COVID-19

Student standing in front of stairs on New York street

Editor’s Note: Applications for the Fall 2021 New York and Washington Semester Program are still available. Submit your application today at https://apps.holycross.edu/stuProgApp. Applications are due May 24th, 2021.

Written by Nicolette Frasco, Class of 2021

My experience during the New York Semester, although short lived due to the COVID-19 pandemic, enhanced my college experience in ways I did not know possible. Independence is the main staple of the program. Although that may sound daunting at first, this freedom forced us to mature in a plethora of ways.

 

I worked four days a week while simultaneously attending a weekly seminar and writing my thesis paper. On top of this, my classmates and I maintained an active social life with each other and the new connections we made through our jobs and the NY social scene. We lived in an ideal location, just one train stop into Brooklyn from downtown Manhattan. In fact, my commute every morning was only 20 minutes from my door to my job in the financial district. I worked at the center of the world’s financial markets while interning at the New York Stock Exchange through their largest market-maker Global Trading Systems. The opportunity to work at such an important institution made every day both fulfilling and exhilarating.

 

Many of my classmates and myself became close with our colleagues and attended functions related to our jobs, such as sponsored events and viewing parties. On top of this, we also networked with Holy Cross alumni on a weekly basis through events coordinated by our professor, which gave us exposure to different types of professions.

 

COVID-19 sent us home only 1 ½ months into our semester and, needless to say, my classmates and I were heartbroken. We all came into ourselves during our time there and learned a new sense of responsibility through our daily experiences. When you live in one place long enough you begin to accumulate your “places.” Like the diner on the corner where we loved to recap our weekends, or the restaurant with an impeccable view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Almost everybody in New York is a transplant and because of that it felt so easy to find our place there. To be one of many enjoying what the city has to offer and making your own way fills you with an electric energy that only New York can give you. 

Forge Your Own Path With the New York Semester Program

Student with mask on walking on New York City sidewalk

Editor’s Note: Applications for the Fall 2021 New York and Washington Semester Program are still available. Submit your application today at https://apps.holycross.edu/stuProgApp. Applications are due May 24th, 2021.

Written by Brandon, Class of 2021

Without exaggeration, I owe my everything to the New York Semester Program. In a narrative all too familiar, my life plans were shot down by a certain pandemic you may have heard of and I was suddenly unsure what I would do after my quickly-approaching graduation, or with my life in general. The NYSP gave me renewed purpose and I am beyond happy to say that as a result of the program I am fully employed and living in NYC.

This isn’t a new concept, but internships prepare you for real-world situations like no classroom can. It doesn’t hurt that the NYSP puts you square in the middle of the fastest and most lively city in America, so you can expect those real-world situations to come in shining, memorable heaps. The NYSP puts you in the beating heart of the commerce, publishing and artistic industries in a way no coursework or lecture can.

In the New York Semester Program, I worked as a writing intern at a small news website based in Midtown Manhattan. As an intern I published more than 700 articles on two websites and earned irreplaceable references and experience. Since then I was hired full time as a writer here in New York City; that happened solely because of my internship. I also fell so deeply, fully and stupefyingly in love with Brooklyn Heights, a place I am lucky enough to now call my home.

The New York Semester Program is an unparalleled opportunity to dip your toes into life, independence, and America’s most beautiful city. You will be intoxicated by a feeling of freedom and what time you don’t spend in a classroom will be spent hardening and developing your love of life. If you are anything like me, I guarantee you will do everything in your power to never leave this city again. I am very lucky to now call New York City, and specifically Brooklyn Heights, my home and I deeply and peerlessly thank the New York Semester Program for giving me a life and career to be proud of.

Taylor ’22 Featured in Local Newspaper for AIP Internship

Emily Taylor
Emily Taylor ’22

By Isabelle Jenkins ’10, Associate Director, Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning

Through Holy Cross’ Academic Internship Program, CBL Intern, Emily Taylor ’22 has been interning with the National Museum of Mental Health Project (NMMHP). The NMMHP is a non-profit organization and a “museum without walls” that researches and creates exhibitions in order to work to transform society’s attitudes about and understanding of mental health. Emily is a communications intern for the organization, and has worked on various projects this semester to amplify NMMHP’s work. Emily’s local newspaper, The Hopkinton Independent recently interviewed Emily on her work with NMMHP. In the interview with Editor Jerry Spar, Emily shared about her passion for mental health work, the impact of NMMHP, and how her experiential learning experience has helped to inform her professional goals. About why she wanted to get involved with NMMHP, Emily said, “I’m really interested in mental health and mental health advocacy…. I want to be a therapist when I’m older. So I thought it would be great to look at mental health from a side that I hadn’t considered before, because everything I’ve been doing in school so far has been lecture-based, science-focused, learning about that aspect of psychology and mental health. But then when I saw there was an art connection that I could explore and have that exposure as well, I thought that would be really cool, so I wanted to get involved.”

Holy Cross and NMMHP first collaborated through the 2020 Non-Profit Careers Conference. NMMHP applied to the NPCC to seek assistance from a group of students on generating ideas for funding and writing language for potential future grant proposals (the student team included, Jany Gonzalez ’22, Kat Hauver ’22, Caroline McKinley ’21, and Nathaniel Trotman ’22). One of the team’s recommendations in their final presentation to NMMHP was to hire a graduate assistant or undergraduate intern to help with the workload. NMMHP did just that, recruiting Emily as their first communications intern!

Schaaf ’22 and Suwal ’22 Reflect on Research Associates Experience with New England Classics Journal

L-R: Anne-Catherine Schaaf ’22 and Smarika Suwal ’22

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Anne-Catherine Schaaf ’22 and Smarika Suwal ’22, who worked with Prof. Aaron Seider (Classics) as Research Associates.

In a world of quarantines and closures, who is venturing to the basement of Dinand Library to read bound copies of a journal? The answer, of course, is no one! Accessibility and inclusion were already guiding principles for our work on the New England Classical Journal (NECJ) before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they proved to be even more important in this new context. A regional Classics journal published by the Classical Association of New England (CANE), NECJ previously existed in only bound copies or behind a paywall. During our work as Research Associates, we were already in the process of transitioning the journal to Open Access on CrossWorks, and once the pandemic began the number of downloads and locations of our readers skyrocketed. As we think about the future, we know that accessibility and inclusion must remain our core principles, and we hope to build on the slow and meticulous work that helped us make the journal an Open Access publication this year. 

Our daily work consisted of independent tasks like proofreading and uploading past articles, as well as more collaborative work such as making key decisions on the journal’s formatting and layout. As the semester progressed, we also began to focus on NECJ’s outreach. We discussed potentially creating social media accounts and obtaining DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) to transition the journal to Open Access. Additionally, by creating new content like abstracts and keywords for older articles, we not only helped the journal reach new audiences but also improved our own writing and research skills, strengthening our ability to quickly absorb complex content and highlight the most important aspects people needed to find. Anne-Catherine created the journal’s first abstract and keywords list, establishing the outline for future abstracts and keyword lists. Smarika took on the major project of creating a spreadsheet to organize our archive of past NECJ issues.

All of these tasks tied into larger opportunities for learning, which we accomplished through regular readings and discussions about the historic exclusivity of Classics and the role classical journals, and NECJ in particular, have in dismantling existing structures of racism and other forms of bias within the field. Two particularly impactful pieces were this editorial from the American Journal of Philology and Dan-el Padilla Peralta’s talk on race, power, and inclusion in journals at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for Classical Studies. We also discussed the racist events that occurred at that same annual meeting as well as Prof. Padilla Peralta’s and others’ responses to the meeting and those events. This knowledge has informed our own work outside of NECJ, as we were part of the team that created the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to support inclusion efforts in our own Classics department. 

Our work concluded for the year with a presentation at the virtual CANE Annual Meeting on the work we had accomplished, what we had learned, and our plans for the future. A key goal of our presentation was to get feedback on our inclusivity efforts, and ideas for how to improve. The presentation was well received, and a robust discussion followed, with participants from all levels of classical pedagogy emphasizing the importance of representation in the field and offering many helpful suggestions to expand upon our aims for NECJ. The journal has transformed over the past year, but even more exciting changes await in its future, and as we look back, we are incredibly grateful for this learning opportunity, and eager to see how our work continues to make an impact.

Fall Opportunities at the J.D. Power Center: AIP and NY Semester News

Dear Students,

As you read in Provost Freije’s email, the J.D. Power Center is offering distinctive opportunities for experiential learning this fall. Whether you plan to return to Holy Cross or to remain at home, we are confident that we can provide experiential learning opportunities for you wherever you are. Here’s what’s new, and what’s coming.
 
AIP is Growing
Fall 2020 might be the best time yet to enroll in the Academic Internship Program because you can intern anywhere in the world. This means you can find a site that works for you–or continue work that you’ve already been doing in your community. We’ve been working all summer with the Center for Career Development to gather contacts with sites offering remote internships, so we’re confident we can help you find an internship that works for you. And if you can’t, you can complete a capstone project instead. 
 
Also: for this semester only, we’re inviting sophomores to apply to AIP! 
 
Available seminars include:
  • Social Justice and the Law (Explore the legal aspects of important social justice issues, such as immigration policy, policing, and sexual assault. Great for students interested in the law, students interested in social justice issues, students engaged in activist work in the community, students interested in public policy.)
  • Health Care Management (This course digs into some of the macro issues around the US health infrastructure. Great for students interested in the health professions, management, public health, economics, or the politics of health care.)
  • Professional Ethics (This course examines practical ethical questions that arise in a number of work settings. Great for pre-business students, philosophy students, religious studies students.)
  • Presidential Campaigns (Driven by the events of the presidential campaign, this course gives students insight into the strategies and tactics of national campaigns. Great for political science students, students engaged in activist work in the community, students interested in media and communications, political junkies of all stripes). 
  • Non-profits and Government Agencies (Learn about how non-profit organizations provide essential services to the community, and how government agencies translate public demands into public goods. Great for pre-business students, students who love CBL, students engaged in activist work, students interested in management, political science majors, sociology majors, economics majors)
  • We’re also offering a brand-new course: Sports Marketing and SponsorshipsThis course will give students an opportunity to learn about the power of marketing and sponsorship in the multi-billion-dollar sports industry. Fascinated by the Washington football team’s decision to change their name (and the corporate pressure that pushed the decision)? This course is for you. It is also great for athletes looking to leverage their athletic career into an internship, students interested in sports generally, students interested in marketing, and pre-business students.
You can find the simple application here.  Applications are due July 22. (NOTE: students who are already enrolled in an AIP course need not re-apply.)
 
New York–Make it There Your Way
The New York Semester is going fully remote to become the J.D. Power Leadership Institute. Get a full semester’s worth of credit while completing a 32 hour/week internship; an online seminar on Leadership, Human Agency, and Organizational Structure; and a capstone project of your own design, mentored by an expert in your field of interest. And you can participate from anywhere in the world! We’ll help you land the remote internship that you want, and allow you to explore the issues you care about in the capstone. Or, if you’re already interning this summer, or engaged in volunteer work in your own community, you can continue that work for credit during the semester.
 
You can find the simple application here. Applications are due July 22. (NOTE: students who are already enrolled in the New York Semester need not re-apply.)
 
It is going to be an unusual semester, but it doesn’t have to be a semester without opportunity. Embrace the moment, and learn from experience!
 
Sincerely,
Daniel Klinghard
Director, J. D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World

CBL and Spanish: The Real Life Lesson – Katie Kelsh ’20

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally featured on the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning blog on May 18, 2020. You can find the original at https://communitybasedlearning.me.holycross.edu/2020/05/18/cbl-and-spanish-the-real-life-lesson-katie-kelsh-20/.

On Friday, May 15, 2020, 20 senior Spanish majors were inducted into the Spanish Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi. All 20 students participated in at least one CBL course, with 90% of them first encountering CBL in Spanish 301: “Spanish Composition and Conversation.” Senior CBL Intern, Katie Kelsh was among the inductees. Katie takes to the blog to reflect on how CBL has been so important to her Spanish major experience. Congratulations Katie and to all the senior Spanish majors on this achievement! The Donelan Office thanks the Spanish Department for all that they do to encourage Spanish students to take part in community-based learning. View a video montage celebrating all of the senior inductees, created by Professor Bridget Franco of the Spanish Department.

Lately, I have frequently found myself helping my brother with his Spanish homework. As I sit with him at the dining room table, repeating vocabulary words and attempting to explain to him the difference between the preterit and imperfect tenses, I keep thinking about my own journey with Spanish. During my first year at Holy Cross, after five years of Spanish classes, I signed up to work with the Worcester Public School Transition Program when they came to Holy Cross where I would spend time with them and also be able to practice my Spanish. However, during the first day that I spent with Worcester Transition Program, when they asked me what my favorite meal at Crossroads was, I became nervous and struggled to answer the question. Thinking about that moment, I have realized how important the CBL component of my Spanish major has been. It has given me the opportunity to gain confidence in actually using my Spanish to effectively communicate with others. The simple act of weekly conversation had helped me grow incredibly as a Spanish student. Spending time with my community partners, I was learning new vocabulary, the ways to distinguish between a Puerto Rican and an Argentine accent, and why they call the tasty Cuban dish ropa vieja. These moments were critical to my understanding of Hispanic language and cultures.

My time spent with my Worcester community partners prepared me for my semester spent abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While not technically a CBL experience, living in Buenos Aires for a semester was definitely the embodiment of experiential learning. Having experience conversing with others in a second language helped prepare me for this new adventure. I was experiencing a new culture, speaking a second language, and living in a foreign city. It was truly the quintessential CBL experience. The lessons that I learned from my community partners such as being open to having conversations with strangers, making mistakes, and learning from others helped me through a challenging but rewarding semester. Taking my language learning out of the classroom and into real life meant daily lessons such as the importance difference between llevarand traer when ordering take out and how after many years of Spanish classes I finally started to understand how and when to use the subjunctive. Whether it was through CBL or in Buenos Aires, it has been these moments, outside of the classroom, when ordering coffee or chatting with the doorman as I waited for the elevator, that I finally understood why I enjoyed learning Spanish. It wasn’t knowing exactly when to use the preterit or imperfect tense, rather it was how learning a new language allowed me to communicate, have conversations, and simply connect with many new people. These real-life experiences, many offered by CBL, take language learning to the next level in allowing students to carry their classroom learning into real life, enabling students to learn culture and connect with people in their global and local community.

Recently, I attended the Spanish Honors Society Induction where I listened to my fellow students describe what their time as a Spanish major had brought to their life. Listening to each student speak made it was obvious that the Spanish major was so much more than just a set of classes we had taken. Student after student spoke about not only learning a new language, but the endless opportunity and experiences that came along with that language, such as finding out they could learn and live in a completely different country or getting to know their host mother. This was what we all loved as Spanish majors, the gift of language that gives us the ability to converse and connect with people across the world, people we might have never met otherwise. However, it did take a while to get to that point. The experiences we had and people we met through CBL helped us gain the confidence and knowledge to begin using our gift and I could not be more grateful for that.

“Leadership in Dispersion”- Isabelle Jenkins, Associate Director, Donelan Office

Group of college students posing for photo in front of wall
The 2019-2020 CBL interns

Editor’s Note: Editor’s Note: This post was originally featured on the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning blog on May 22, 2020. You can read the original post on the Donelan CBL blog.

On March 11th, the Holy Cross community received the news that, because of the global pandemic of COVID-19, the College would be moving all learning online, in-person events and activities would be canceled, and that essentially everyone had to vacate campus as quickly as possible. This decision was made so as to minimize physical contact between people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. For the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning, this decision had particular implications, as contact is at the core of every single thing we do: contact with community partners and a variety of Worcester community members, contact with faculty and their courses, and contact with a variety of other community engagement programs on campus.

Our leadership program, the Community-Based Learning Intern Program, also felt the drastic impact of the College’s decision. This is because, again, a highlight of the CBL Intern program is the contact the Interns have with our community partners, with our courses, with our office space, and with each other. An example of this is how the 16 Interns utilize the Donelan Office space itself. If you have ever passed by the Donelan Office when walking along the hallway of Smith 3, you likely glanced into the Donelan Office and saw two, three, four, or five people in there at a time, eating cookies, getting work done, and laughing so much that at least one person had tears in their eyes. The Interns would fill the office to the brim, not only with themselves and their stuff, but with their hearts and minds, with their ideas and emotions, with their leadership. This contact, certainly, has not been possible in the past ten weeks as we have been in dispersion, away from campus.

Despite losing the physical space of the office and the ability to be in physical contact with so many, the CBL Interns have persisted in their leadership, helping to continue the work of community-based learning. Their leadership has proven that the work that we do is really about connection more so than about contact. Sure, the physical contact can help with making connections, but connection can be made in dispersion, too.

When we moved online, the Interns hardly missed a beat. They helped to move the CBL Intern selection process online, interviewing Intern candidates on Zoom and meeting as a group for several hours to make the very difficult decision about who would be selected for the 2020-2021 CBL Intern cohort. They held virtual in-class reflection sessions, assisting many CBL students with reflecting on how the move to remote learning was impacting their CBL experience. They wrote blog after blog sharing their thoughts about how they were continuing to be in communication with their community partners, what they missed about in-person CBL and being on campus, how their learnings from CBL have assisted them during this time of dispersion, how saying goodbye was difficult, and reflections on CBL after four years in CBL courses and about their time as CBL Interns. They put on a virtual dialogue session featuring four Holy Cross alumni who shared about living a life of service and justice beyond the Hill; this dialogue session was our highest-attended dialogue session ever! The younger Interns helped to celebrate our Senior Interns with a virtual send-off featuring a TikTok-style video, messages from faculty, community partners, and the CBL Intern community, and highlights of their numerous achievements. The Interns contributed to a social media gratitude campaign for our community partners during the last week of classes, recording videos of speeches they would have made in person and sharing messages they would have shared during their final days at their sites. The list goes on.

While these virtual times are no replacement for the in-person times we have had in CBL and that we hope to have in CBL as soon as it’s possible to safely gather again, these virtual times have been fulfilling and meaningful in their own unique ways. They would not be as fulfilling and meaningful without acts of great leadership. The CBL Interns’ work over the past two months has proven that when you put your mind and heart to it, connection is absolutely possible even when contact is not. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” These times that we’ve experienced while physically distanced from each other most definitely have been challenging and controversial times. The CBL Interns, though, have faced these challenges and controversies head-on and shone brightly because of their leadership in dispersion. This leadership has inspired us and so many to persist in making and maintaining connections.

Thank you, CBL Interns!