Summer programs take students on life-changing adventures

Traveling across the country to colleges like Barnard, Stanford and Skidmore, to immigration camps on the Nogales, AZ border, or to the ancient ruins of Thailand can seem like the ends of the world from Waukegan – and really scary. But, CRSM students who are doing exactly that, say it is overwhelming in the best kind of way, sharing cultures, foods and ways of life.

The adventures allow the students to become curious travelers, whether it is exploring and studying on college campus, experiencing the arts and beauty of travel, or breaking down cultural barriers.

For Susie, a rising senior and Schuler Scholar, who traveled almost 8,400 miles and is spending five weeks in Thailand, it is “a trip of a lifetime,” and a challenge to communicate across language and cultures. (Pictured above with her host sister, Ket)

“I learned to embrace the awkwardness of the several minute long silences at the dinner table,” says Susie, who will return in August. “Sometimes the most important moments we share are through silence. The bond my host sister and I made is crucial to me, because I think right now especially in America, people are taught to hate others who are different, who don’t speak English, who don’t share the same customs. But it’s really hard to hate someone you’ve shared a meal and a laugh with. The language barrier is miniscule. Smiles and a happy heart are universal.”

Her trek to Thailand speaks volumes about the expansive variety of out-of-the classroom experiences CRSM students are embarking on this summer.

Through the Schuler Scholar Program, juniors attended academic, arts, leadership, and pre-college programs at Emory, Carleton, Brown, Barnard, Stanford, Skidmore, Boston University and George Washington and the National Hispanic Institute. Some also traveled to Ontario for a theater immersion program, a musical road trip in Tennessee and Mississippi and others to study tropical ecology in Miami, Florida.

On the service front, a group of students traveled to Nogalas, AZ for the Viatorian Border Immersion to explore immigration and U.S.-Mexico border issues with students from St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights. They hiked the desert migration trail, served food in soup kitchens in Mexico and attended deportation proceedings with a migrant advocate.

Another group of students attended a Young Neighbors in Action trip in Chicago, working at soup kitchens, shelters and community gardens. The Viatorian Youth Congress is also on the agenda for this summer for some CRSM students at Cabrini Retreat Center in Des Plaines, IL, bringing together high school students and young adult leaders of the Viatorian Community. Throughout the Congress, young people gather to learn, discuss and deepen their grasp of the Catholic faith and how they can serve the Viatorian mission.

“The immersion trips are a chance for students to learn, serve, pray and grow in their faith and build friendships with others,” said Jim Dippold, director of Campus Ministry.