As you know, the Fall of 2020 has not been an ordinary semester. Which I guess makes the next part of this note perhaps a bit surprising. Years from now, when I am asked to recall what the Center for Service and Action (CSA) looked like in one of the most challenging semesters of our existence, I will recall with pride the ingenuity and compassion of students, staff, faculty, and community partners. And so, I want to share with you how our team in CSA has risen to the challenges of the times.
In the summer, LMU staff and faculty engaged with CSA’s work came together to join with a local community partner in developing a pilot virtual tutoring program for students throughout Los Angeles. And not surprisingly, our LMU students rose to the challenge. This fall, hundreds of LMU students are supporting tutoring efforts throughout Los Angeles, in addition to engaging in service opportunities in other capacities. Whether it is providing translation services for a nonprofit online or lending their multimedia and graphic design skills to nonprofit partners who have been severely impacted by COVID-19, LMU students again and again have reminded us what makes this community special.
In a few short weeks, a group of 45 LMU students will depart on a most unique journey: Virtual Alternative Break immersions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico. While the pandemic has curtailed our typical group travel experiences, it has not lessened our desire to be in kinship with our partners around the globe. When you hear about global imagination at LMU, what I hope you know is this: It is the global relationships we have been building for years that have allowed us in this most unusual semester to bring the world to LMU.
In times of crisis, one of the best things we can do is look for the helpers. In CSA, we have had the chance to learn from our nonprofit partners around Los Angeles and the world. Their efforts, in the face of great adversity, have inspired us to ask what more we can do to meet the needs of a world currently crying out in pain. This semester has been different; it has been challenging, it has been unusual. I am proud of our students and staff who have continually asked important questions: Am I doing everything I can to take care of other people? Am I doing everything I can so one day when this pandemic ends, I will look back and say I am proud of the person I was in one of the most difficult moments of our time?
While this semester has not been like all the semesters I have worked in CSA before, one thing remains constant: LMU students, staff, and faculty continue to show up to be active participants in building the world they want to inhabit. And I couldn’t be more proud to be an LMU Lion and a part of our great community.
In short, I am LMU thankful for our entire community (students, staff, faculty, and community partners) who have persevered through difficult times and who remind me what it means to hope and why it matters.
— Patrick Furlong, Interim Director for LMU Center for Service and Action