Coordinators Archive


Warm Hearts and Hard Starts: A Reflection for World Refugee Day

world-refugee_Day_14It was a nice break from the usual slogging through ESL and cultural orientation material. Today, instead of practicing introductions, writing letters and numbers or learning about job expectations, we gathered with the students we were tutoring and worked on an art project together.

 With a few paper cut-outs, red, yellow and orange tissue paper, magnet strips, and some glue, my weekly service site group and the dozen or so students at the Southern Sudanese Community Association (SSCA) created something truly beautiful: autumn leaf magnets covered with balls of tissue paper, in various designs and patterns.

Every week my co-coordinator and I took a small group of Creighton students to the SSCA to help tutor refugees in ESL, cultural orientation and job training classes. Actually, all of these were usually combined into one class, taught by one very patient, very joyful volunteer, a recent college graduate named Ben.

Every week we practiced introducing ourselves and saying where we were from, wrote numbers and letters, learned job-necessary vocabulary and prepared for the citizenship test. Our success depended on the students’ ages, newness and levels in the class.

As someone who has never had to flee my country for safety reasons, and as someone who would probably struggle to find these students’ native countries on a map, it was uncomfortable for me, at first, to spend two hours working with people I could hardly communicate with, whose lives I barely understood.

Despite all of this, friendships were forged, not only between the students I tutored and myself, but also between themselves and one another. And the more I engaged with this community, the more I felt a part of it and felt a desire to be in solidarity with them.

It was amazing to watch the students build a community between themselves. They all came from different countries (mostly Burma and Bhutan) and were fluent in different languages, but they always found ways to help and joke with each other.

Humor, it appears, can travel across other languages. When someone mispronounced an English word, or when something that Ben was teaching sounded funny, they would all look at each other and laugh. If a fellow classmate was struggling to get something right, they would all chime in, either in imperfect English or in that student’s native language, to help explain it.

Despite the language barrier, there were always ways of connecting with the students. Laughter and joy are things we can understand no matter what language we speak. The students spoke through wide grins, bright eyes and a willingness to laugh at themselves as they stumbled over words. It was a language I could understand and return with my own laughter and smiles.  Every so often I’d ask a student to teach me a word in their native language, which made me feel the most connected to these resilient, storied people.

They always impressed me. Day in and day out the students got themselves to class, often while balancing jobs. They had this determination that could not be quenched. All of them were older, but they had the hope and humor of elementary school students.

The more I got to know the students, the more I could envision what their lives were like before immigrating to the United States. It was hard to imagine spending  almost my entire life in a country and suddenly having to flee it for another because of violence and corruption. At these students’ ages, learning a new language was hard, being forced to adapt to a new culture was scary, and not knowing anyone was terrifying.

Yet these refugees never gave up. They never gave up the love and pride they had for their home countries, nor did they give up their project of making this country their home. To get to be a part of that project did so much more for me than I probably did for them. As I taught the students, I learned from them about a world beyond my own, a world that challenged me to love and be in greater solidarity with its people.

Even with all of this, it was still nice to take a break from the hard work and just have fun by doing an art project together. I was astounded by the woman I partnered with for the project. Every time I finished one of my little leaf magnets, I’d look down at it in pride, thinking, Wow, this turned out better than I thought it would. Then I’d look at my partner’s leaves and admire her creativity. I could never have come up with the kind of designs she had on her leaves. They were beautiful.

At the end of the class, as I gathered my leaves and said goodbye to the students, my partner took one of my leaves—my favorite of the three—and then took my hand, looked in my eyes and smiled. When she let go, one of her beautiful leaves was in my hand. A way to remember each other, a symbol of solidarity, an icon of her warm heart and the hard start she was overcoming.

Anna Ferguson
Student Coordinator
Class of 2015


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.



CCSJ Student Office Team Leader Application Now Open!

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Applications for Student Office Team Leader at the CCSJ are now open. The CCSJ, a department of University Ministry is open to Student Coordinators of all backgrounds. Student Coordinators become knowledgeable about the work of the CCSJ and the needs, gifts and opportunities of the broader community. They coordinate weekly local service; act as liaisons to other student, campus and community groups; represent CCSJ at University functions; help with office duties; and often initiate, organize and lead special projects and advocacy efforts. The position exists to empower students to facilitate, extend and deepen the service, faith and justice mission of Creighton University. The CCSJ has eight teams with paid and volunteer positions available on each team. If you are interested in applying for one of these positions (volunteer or paid), please visit our website for more information.

The application will be available online by January 15, 2014 and is due on January 29, 2014. We will be conducting interviews in the office on February 20-21 and will have final decisions out by March 7, 2014.


Service & Justice Trips Coordinator Application

2012_Fall_DoF_151) Read the Coordinator Rights and Responsibilities

2) Online Application.
Please fill out the online portion of the application and hit the “submit” button. Please plan for 30-60 minutes as there are essays and you are not able to save your application and return at a later time. If you begin the application, it may be submitted to us even if it is not complete, please plan to complete it at one sitting to avoid duplicate applications.

3) In order to complete the application process…

You need to bring the following documents/items to the CCSJ Office in the Harper Center (2067):
-Your deposit of $50. We accept cash, check or credit card in the office. This deposit will be subtracted from your payment of $225 for full week, or $125 for half week
-You will need to sign up for a 20 minute interview (in our office March 31st and April 1st; no need to dress up)
-Payments and Interview sign-ups will be accepted on  March 30th in our office.
Application deadline is March 30th by 4 pm.

Work Sample (please bring to your interview):
As a way to gather new creative ideas for our committees and program in general, we are asking coordinators to bring to their interviews a sample of what they offer as a coordinator to the Service & Justice Trips Program. Thinking of our events and looking at the roles of a coordinator, feel free to bring in anything that shows your talent (other than your outline of a reflection which you already included in your application). This could be a letter to a family member telling them about your trip that we could use in our fundraising material or as an advocacy piece, a new way to present a pillar at a general meeting, or something creative such as T-shirt design idea or a new flyer layout.

Coordinator Application Due: March 30th, 2015 (CCSJ)
Coordinator Interviews:  Tuesday, March 31st and Wednesday, April 1st (Sign-up in office when you come in to pay.)

Fall Service and Justice Trips Information Meeting: April. 9th 8 pm and 9:00PM in Harper Ballroom
Day of Formation: Sunday Apr. 12th, 9AM-5PM
Fall Service and Justice Trips Participant Interviews: April 21st-23rd
Fall Service and Justice Trips General Meetings: Sept. 10th, 24th and Oct. 8th 9-10:30pm
Send-Off Service:  Oct. 15th, 9-10pm (St. John’s Church)
Fall Break: October 17th-24th
Fall Break Service and Justice Trips Reunion: October 29th, 9-10:30pm

** Limited need-based scholarships are available March 19th Scholarship applications are due by March 26th with awards announced by March 30th.

Payment will not be deposited until you have been offered a position and accepted. If you withdraw from a trip after May, 8th 2015 no refund will be available.


2011 Staff Retreat

Anna & Christine 2

Anna & Christine

Katie, Daniella, & Laura

Carissa, Jenny, & Becca

Andrew & Kelsey

Will & Elizabeth

Melissa & Maureen

Professional Staff

Service Trips 2011-12 Core Team Jumping

Service Trips 2011-12 Core Team circle

Communications Team

Office Staff

Check out the pictures from our Staff retreat this weekend!
Or view the pictures in a flickr gallery


Service & Justice Trips Core Team 2011-2012

Maureen Book
Maureen Book I am a senior majoring in Spanish and International Relations, minor in Justice and Peace Studies, and I am originally from St. Louis, MO. I started getting involved with the CCSJ my Freshman year when I went on my first service trip to Pilsen in Chicago. My sophomore year I was a member of the Cortina Community, which gave me so many unforgettable insights into social justice and has continued to motivate me ever since. I enjoy serving weekly at the Pixan Ixim community, which allows me to continue my passion of working with immigrants and speaking Spanish. I also spent a semester studying abroad in Chile my junior year, an indescribable experience that taught me so much about the world and so much about myself. I love doing advocacy work with the CCSJ and I love learning as much as I can about anything and everything. The things that are guaranteed to make me smile are beautiful sunsets, my friends, water fountains, kittens, clean rooms, my Spanish dictionary, sharing baked goods, knee socks, and of course – Harry Potter. I am so excited to be a part of the CCSJ family!
Claire Bowens
Claire Bowens
Hi, I’m Claire! I’m starting my fourth, and unfortunately, final year at Creighton. Over the past three years I have been blessed to have been a part of many amazing organizations and communities on campus, but the CCSJ has been a truly special and essential part of my college experience. After participating in the Encuentro Dominicano program, I sought out the CCSJ to help me continue to live out the values that I acquired in the DR. I began teaching ELL classes at the weekly service site, Pixan Ixim, and got involved in the CCSJ’s service trips. My FBST to El Paso, TX opened my eyes to the injustices of our nation’s immigration policies and inspired me to take action. While in El Paso, I felt called to spend my summer at the Annunciation House serving and living in solidarity with immigrants from Mexico and Central America – After an absolutely incredible and transformative summer, I am SO excited to start working in the CCSJ! I can’t wait to share my experiences and learn from those of my passionate and dynamic community members.
Kelsey Cullinan
Kelsey Cullinan Passionate, hard working and determined would be three words that describe me. I grew up in Altoona, IA – the oldest of six children. Currently, I am a senior, Pre-Med, majoring in German and Medical Anthropology with a minor in Biology, and possibly Public Health. I greatly enjoy traveling, being outside and working with children.
Laura Green
Laura Green Why hello there. My name is Laura and I am from St. Louis, MO. I’m a Social Work major with a minor in Justice and Peace Studies. Since participating in immersion trips to La Chinantla, Mexico in high school, my passion for service and justice has only grown stronger. For five years I have been a camp counselor for children with physical and mental disabilities and just finished my second year at a residential, Jewish camp at Lake of the Ozarks! It has brought about incredible relationships and friendships! I LOVE being outside, camping, and swaying in hammocks. Also, get this! I have a twin that works in the CCSJ too and we are identical! I had a year full of community, laughter, and growth in this office and can only hope for another great one this year especially as I join the Service & Justice Trips CORE Team.
Kate Kogler
Kate Kogler
Hello! My name is Kate and I am going into my last year at Creighton. It has been a wonderful journey so far and I am excited to be a part of the CCSJ community this year through Core Team. I am an Exercise Science major, a Biblical Studies minor, and I am in the process of applying to physical therapy school! I have been on three different service trips through the CCSJ and they have been an integral part of my college experience. I went to Stroud, OK; Okolona, MS; and St. Mary of the Woods, IN. These trips have shaped my life in amazing ways and I am so excited to be a part of the process on Core Team and facilitate other student’s experiences. I enjoy being by the beach, any form of dessert, and a good book. Ideally, I enjoy a good book while eating dessert at the beach!
Melissa List
Melissa List
Well hello! I grew up off-the-grid on my family farm outside Granville, IA (population: less than 400). I am senior Nursing major with the intent to pursue a Nurse Practitioner program in the near future. Upon arriving at Creighton I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Columbus, GA. This experience was the starting point for me in my awareness and pursuit of social justice. Throughout my time at Creighton, I have been blessed with many opportunities to enter into community and service through involvement in the Freshmen Leadership Program, Cortina Program, and my wonderful Service & Justice Trip experience to Pixan Ixim in South Omaha and leading a trip to Denver, CO with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers last spring. This summer only furthered my drive to work for social justice as I spent 6 weeks in the Dominican Republic working as a campo clinic nurse through Creighton’s ILAC Program. In my free time I love spending time with my Daisy Girl Scouts at Kellom Elementary and teaching Sunday School at St. John’s on campus. My guilty pleasures in life are coffee, chocolate and, as a nursing student, being asked to investigate my friend’s ailments at any given time (regardless of my apparent lack of experience). I simply cannot wait for an amazing year with the CCSJ and sincerely hope you give in to your curiosity and come visit the office!
Mike Rios
Mike Rios Hailing from the Western Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois, I am a senior Theology major, biology minor, pursuing a Physician’s Assistant program after graduation. Sophomore year I was in Cortina and last year I worked as a Campus Ministry Intern, learning an incredible amount about what they do, how it works, and the vocation of ministry as a whole. I have led a Service Trip to Montgomery, AL and have been a participant to Albuquerque, NM and Sioux City, IA. I am involved in work with Tiny Hands International, a non-profit organization working to combat human trafficking in Nepal, with which I traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal for 6 weeks this summer to volunteer. I believe in the healing power of music and I’ve played guitar since I was 9. Laughter and a good sense of humor are things I treasure in myself and in others, I may or may not be addicted to caffeine, and I always enjoy a good bowl of Rice Krispie TREAT Cereal (there is a difference, I assure you). I’m undoubtedly looking forward to an amazing year!

Service & Justice Associates 2011-2012

Chris Boitano
Chris Boitano
I am a senior Biology major from the greatest city in the lower 48: Tacoma, WA. My adventures through Creighton have led me to Pine Ridge and Rosebud, SD, Chicago, IL, El Paso, TX, Mobile, AL, and the Dominican Republic. Over time I have found a passion for human rights in the developing world, specifically workers’ wages. I enjoy walking with people as they become aware of how their lives affect people all over the world. I look forward to spending time in the CCSJ this year as well as being a resident advisor in Kiewit Hall and a CSU representative. I also enjoy running and causing trouble with my friend Ricky the wallaby.
Nick George
Nick George
Que lo que!? The name’s Nick Brady George or just Nick for short. It’s a pleasure to be working for the CCSJ again. In case you would like to know a little more about me, I am a senior form Wichita, KS studying Biology and Spanish with a dash of Public Health. Someday, I hope to work for an NGO as a physician doing international work with a focus on Latin America and the Domincan Republic. I’ve been abroad a few times and have absolutely loved it! If you care to find me around campus, I work with a couple of organizations including Legado de Compasión and Spanish Club. Some of my hobbies are wrangling cattle (as seen to in the photo), playing ultimate frisbee, dominating a game of nerts (or blitz as some like to call it), and jamming to some música latina. Hopefully you will enjoy working with us and the CCSJ, and I can’t wait for an awesome year! Feel free to stop by and chat whenever. We are here for you!
Steph Haas
Steph Haas
I am a senior Exercise Science major from Davenport, Iowa. I love my major, but my passions lie in serving others. Outside of the CCSJ, I am involved in Residence Life as the Assistant Resident Director in Gallagher and the Historian for the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. I love spending time outside and with my friends when I’m not busy, as well as playing and watching sports. I’ve had many outstanding experiences with the CCSJ including but not limited to a service trip each semester since spring 2010. I recently completed a summer internship with Mason Apartments (a Mercy Housing community), where I worked with children and refugees and discovered more about life every day. I live for amplifying happiness and self-worth in others and for Gandhi’s words, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Bill Kusek
Bill Kusek
I am from Albion, NE working on a biology major with a Spanish minor and serve as an RA for Gallagher Hall. I plan to go to optometry school after graduation in May. I love camping, hiking, running, canoeing, taking pictures and spending time outdoors. The Cortina program introduced me to the joy of service and I have been on service trips through the CCSJ to the L’Arche Community in Clinton, Iowa, and Pixan Ixim in Omaha. This past spring I lead a group on a trip to Cleveland, Ohio. I love the people and the work of the CCSJ and am continually hungry to learn about the issues present in society and how I fit in that picture. I am here living, sharing life, and discovering who I am. Come find me anytime to talk or share stupid jokes!