This past summer, Chaminade students Andrew Ancheta ‘21 and Edward Adachi ‘21 attended the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Student Ambassador Leaders Together (SALT) Summit 2018 Conference from July 15-18. Both students are currently CRS Student Ambassadors at Chaminade University of Honolulu through Campus Ministry.
At the CRS SALT Summit Andrew and Edward, along with students from 60 other colleges and universities, gathered in Baltimore, Maryland to meet other CRS Student Ambassadors, advisors and CRS staff and experts to build leadership skills rooted in CRS values and characteristics. The conference included advocacy training and preparation for advocacy meetings on Capitol Hill with the offices of Hawaii’s Senators and Representatives.
“My favorite part was when we actually went to talk to our senators and representatives of Hawaii,” says Andrew. “That really made me feel like I was putting my faith into action.”
Growing up Catholic, Andrew says the hardest part is incorporating his faith into everyday life. Through this conference he was able to exercise his faith by giving a voice to the people who do not have one. Advocacy is an important part of Catholicism that others do not realize.
“Anyone can help, regardless of their religion,” says Edward. “It’s about gathering everybody together and being aware of the issues happening around the world. Half of the problem is people not knowing.”
Newly baptised into Catholicism this past Easter season at Mystical Rose Oratory, Edward says that you can be whatever you are—Catholic, non-religious, etc.—and still contribute to the solution of current issues our world is facing. Sometimes that solution can be as small as educating people and bringing awareness to issues like climate change, homelessness or world hunger. Because, as people become more aware of the problem, they become a part of the solution.
“Eddie and I were so shocked to see how many students were passionate about making a difference,” says Andrew. “All of these people were so excited to speak on behalf of their state to continue supporting this organization that is making a huge difference in the lives of many different people.”
Brian Schatz, Maize Hirono and Colleen Hanabusa’s offices were all in favor of continuing to support what Catholic Relief Services provides to our global issues. CRS is most famous for their Lenten Rice Bowls. These rice bowls raise money for third-world countries to provide food and other services. “Andrew and I learned that CRS does more than just raising donations,” Edward says. “CRS provides the services and volunteers to be relief aids for countries affected by natural disasters, local disasters, wars and more.”
“A lot of people think that CRS just provides food for those in need,” says Andrew. “But CRS focuses more on eliminating the need for emergency services.” CRS helps people maintain their independence and stand on their own two feet.
“Being from Hawaii, it was cool to get to see different perspectives from other students,” says Edward. “One student we met from Missouri is an environmental studies major, and the issues she hears about in Missouri are completely different from the issues we have in Hawaii.”
A big issue for the Pacific Islands is climate change and a big contributor is the pollution of plastic goods. Andrew and Edward’s friend from Missouri now sees that her actions in Missouri, like using and discarding plastic goods, contribute to the larger problem of climate change that may affect her friends in the Pacific. Andrew and Eddie also learned that the same goes for those of us who live in the Pacific—our actions could affect our friends on the U.S. mainland.
“The whole point of being a human is to help other humans,” says Andrew. “It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic. We are human and it is our duty to help other humans.”
As CRS Student Ambassadors at Chaminade University, Andrew and Edward want to start holding events on the Chaminade campus. “In a community, everyone has different roles,” says Andrew. They are both starting at the bottom first and planting the seeds for a bigger change in the future. Andrew says, “You cannot expect a tree to just grow out of nowhere without planting a seed first.”
One last thing that Andrew and Edward took away from the conference was the application of the Characteristics of Marianist Universities. At the CRS SALT Summit Conference, all the CRS Student Ambassadors worked for service, justice and peace. Andrew and Eddie brought their integral, quality education from Chaminade University and together worked with their fellow Ambassadors as one community to reach one goal in family spirit advocating to their state representatives for the Catholic Church to support Catholic Relief Services.
“The world is constantly changing,” Andrew says, “We were taught to keep up with changes in the world and to be aware of what is going on.” As CRS Student Ambassadors, Andrew and Edward have to adapt themselves to ensure people are constantly learning about our current world problems through whatever means necessary.
Finally, the four Marianist values above that Andrew and Edward exercised at the conference helped them in the fifth Marianist value: formation in faith. Edward says that, “This was a great experience and opportunity to get to see that what I learned here at Chaminade can be applied in a real-world situation.”