Reflections by Stephen Hill, coordinator of Iona in Mission
Iona welcomed incoming first-year students to campus for the inaugural Iona in Mission: Get Moving! program, which engages the participants in service, social justice education, and learning about the core values of Iona College. Get Moving! is a re-envisioning of the Go New Ro program which ran for the past six consecutive years.
This year 18 incoming students, three returning student leaders, and three professional staff members from the Offices of Mission and Ministry and Off-Campus and Commuter Services participated in the Get Moving! experience.
During the program students learned about important social justice issues including hunger and homelessness in New York City and Westchester County, inequality and exclusion, and issues facing elder adults. We participated in services projects around these topics by partnering with the following agencies: The Midnight Run and Project Bro at the St. Joseph’s Care Facility for retired Christian Brothers.
An essential characteristic of the Edmund Rice story is the desire and ability to live in relationship with people made poor and marginalized.
To begin this process, we engage our Get Movers in service projects within the local community to nudge them out of their comfort zones both physically and intellectually. Our hope is to help produce students who respond boldly to the world’s suffering and needs with presence and compassion, so that we all may liberated from exclusion and injustice. This is what Edmund Rice did in Ireland, what the Christian Brothers continue to do around the world, and what our students, staff, and faculty are called to do.
Direct service, however, is just one piece of this program. Students were invited to walk the Two Feet of Social Justice (Service and Advocacy) through a panel conversation with community leaders at the New Rochelle Public Library titled “Service and Advocacy: Standing with our Neighbors in Need.”
The panelists included: Nate Adams, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Club of New Rochelle,
executive director of HOPE Community Services, Barbara Davis, community relations manager for the New Rochelle Public Library, and Michael Hull, a city resident, activist, and member of the New Rochelle Anti-Racism Task Force.
The purpose of the panel was to help the incoming students learn about the needs of their neighbors in the community and what they can do to help meet these needs through both direct service and advocacy. The panelists spoke powerfully of the diversity, and embrace of differences by residents, in New Rochelle, but also candidly of the poverty and stresses of so many of our neighbors. They also challenged our new Gaels to be engaged in the local community and good citizens of the Queen City.
Finally, our Get Moving! students were welcomed into the Iona College community through interactions with President Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., many administrators and student leaders who went out of their way to contribute to the program and help our new Gaels reflect on Iona’s values.
This reflection on lived values helped the participants integrate what they learned about New Rochelle and Iona’s mission and tradition to better understand their role as citizens of a greater world…who are called to move the world toward justice.
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