As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” and this ethos is what has driven me to dedicate my life to public service. I am the son of a Mexican immigrant and since I was 14 years old, I have worked in public service to create a more inclusive community and champion the very change I want to see in my community. I have worked for the mayor of Detroit, worked on several local political campaigns, and helped to improve community relations as a Government Affairs intern for Quicken Loans.
As I begin my college career studying international relations at Lehigh University, I have come to realize that my community goes beyond the city, state, or even country I live in. In the 21st century, we are now more than ever a global community. As former Secretary General said, ““More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together.” I look forward to working for Augustinians International to continue their great work bringing education and giving a voice to those who often do not have a voice for themselves. I hope to learn how NGOs can promote a more equitable and united global community and better understanding how NGOs can promote greater reform within the UN.
This past October Fr. Bob Dueweke visited the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. The purpose for visiting this facility and its scientists was to learn more about climate change and how the mission of Augustinians International might realign its focus and energy. Questions that guided this visit were as follows:
–How does one, who is not a professional scientist, stay up to date with the current research in climate science?
— I am familiar with the IPCC’s Assessment Reports and books by Elizabeth Kolbert, Benjamin Barber, Jeremy Jackson, Steve Chapple, and Dahr Jamail, to mention a few. I recently explored NCAR’s online library link, but is it open to the public? The University of Michigan has a wealth of materials in line with the SDGs. Are there other recommended resources?
–What and where are the areas on the planet most sensitive to climate change? How is it detected? Is that area atmospheric, oceanic, or land-based?
–There are many programs of data collection on the Internet for the so-called citizen scientist. Are these valid programs to participate in?
–I am interested in knowing more about “Rising Voices” and collaboration with Indigenous communities affected by sea level rise and other impacts due to climate change. Collaboration with indigenous communities/local knowledge is a constant concern at UN conversations.
–What political entities have benefited from NCAR’s research in developing policy?
Hopefully, we will be able to continue this important conversation on climate change.
On October 25-27, 2019, Fr. Bob Dueweke, osa, gave a retreat in Las Cruces, NM, on Bernard Lonergan’s notion of Cosmopolis, applied to the reality of climate change. The purpose of the retreat was to raise awareness of human-induced climate change and what we, as individuals and as church, can do to mitigate its consequences. The notion of cosmopolis refers to those people who live the transcendental precepts (be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable, be responsible, be in love) in service as change agents for a better world. This annual retreat is part of a long series on Lonergan’s thought and how his ideas can be applied to everyday life. Previous retreat themes are the transcendental precepts, the conversions, and realms of meaning.
Next year’s theme is on Beauty, October 30-November 1, 2020, at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Las Cruces, NM.
Sr. Jana Anne is an Augustinian Sister with Sisters of St. Rita in Racine, WI. She has been involved with social justice work and lay ministries mostly in Los Angeles and Racine. Started her ministries through St. Vincent de Paul Society as an active member by serving the homeless. Later, got involved with prison ministry and ministered the youth at Central Juvenile Detention Center in Los Angeles. She has taught Religious Education in Los Angeles and Racine. Currently volunteers as communion/pastoral care minister and works as a Hospice Chaplain.
Any Augustinian sister who wants to know more about our work at the United Nations should contact me, Fr. Bob, at email@example.com
The Monte Maravilla Augustinian Project in Dumanjug, Cebu, is envisioned as a climate smart complex. Located on the 40-hectare property donated by Srta. Candida Mercader and family, the project features an integrated farming system, farming adventure camp with a learning site for organic farming, a nature park, farm products display center, and a village of the needy. The project’s vision promotes climate smart, resilient, and sustainable technologies in agriculture that is beneficial for farmers in the area.
On June 12, 2019, the Augustinian Province of Sto. Niño de Cebu held a ground-breaking ceremony of the Monte Maravilla Augustinian (OSA) Project in Brgy, Kang-actol, Dumanjud, Cebu. The ceremony was spearheaded by the Province together with various stakeholders and partner organizations such as CTU-Barili, Carmen Copper, SNAF, PADO, FairTrade, DSWD, DSWS, People’s Coop, BMSN OSA Cares, BMSN Medical Team, LGU of Dumanjud and the locals of the baranggay.
By Keenan Overa (AI Youth Rep from Lehigh University)
Within any organization, communication is one of the fundamental pillars toward making sustained and visible progress. Communication is vital in making effective plans and scheduling future projects, yet at the same time communication is key toward resolving issues and challenges that inevitably arise throughout one’s professional work. This dynamic of interaction exists not only between individuals within an organization like an NGO, but all along the entire UN system: from NGO to NGO, NGO to society, and NGO to the UN. As an incredibly complex and interwoven web, it is little wonder that at times communication difficulties arise, and subsequent setbacks as well. For me personally, at times I’ve experienced challenges in organizing and staying in touch with projects. Importantly, its key to understand that this is a not a poor reflection of any individual or their capacity to function as a team member, but rather it serves as an example of how delicate yet impactful communication is at the heart of organizations like Augustinian International.
Perhaps the first step that needs to be taken is understanding what exactly is effective communication. Exchanges dialogue is a robust oversimplification of an otherwise exceedingly expansive process, but at its core it is true that communication is a transfer of understanding from one individual another. (Lunenburg 1, 2010) Fundamentally, as Lunenburg details that “unless a common understanding results from the exchange of information, there is no communication” (Lunenburg 1, 2010) That understanding comprises the goal; the target information that forms the motivation for dialogue. Equally as important is feedback, the response of the receiver of information and main indication of whether or not understanding has occurred. (Lunenburg 2, 2010). Information that is sent must be decoded in the format and method it was presented, and the resulting understanding manifests itself as feedback. (Lunenburg 2 ,2010) This understanding may seem very bookish, but in breaking down the communication process into its various parts can we more clearly understand how to be more effective in communicating.
Importantly, the barriers to effective communication must be understood. A failure or breakdown anywhere in the communication system described by Lunenburg, consisting of sender, message, receiver, and feedback, results in a failure of communication. (Lunenburg 2-3, 2010) Words carry diverse connotations, physical factors can impede hearing and comprehension, and a variety of psychosocial barriers described by Luneburg that connect a listener’s personal experiences and the role that might be play in understanding. For youth representatives just entering the UN system, it is vital to understand how complex but important a simple idea like communication is. For both a new youth representative and a seasoned veteran of the UN system, Lunenburg’s recommendations for effective communication should ease comprehension and make common understanding more readily available. These tips, complied in Lunenburg’s work, include “clarifying ideas before communicating, examining the true purpose of each communication, understand the environment where communication occurs, consult with others when necessary, be aware of the relationship between implied meanings/overtones and the basic content of the message, convey the sense of value or help to the receiver, follow up on communication, communicate for today and tomorrow, support their communication with actions, and seek to understand as much as being understood.” (Lunenburg 6-8, 2010)
I currently rely on these strategies now, as I am serving as an intern in Chisinau, Moldova at the American Language Center. One of the most prevalent challenges has presented itself in the form of language: Moldova is a multi-lingual society and an individual not fluent in Romanian or Russian would face great challenge here, and this is a story that I myself have seen glimpses of. Yet what these anecdotes from various individuals demonstrate is the opportunity to recognize the potential for effective communication. Here in Moldova, I have had the amazing chance to practice and improve my Russian in the workspace just by utilizing it daily. By being abroad, I can learn to more effectively manage my tasks and lines of contact with Augustinians International, thereby improving my own capacity to schedule and manage multiple tasks and moving parts at once.
Within all of our various networks, especially within Augustinians International and our relationships with the wider United Nations system, it’s key to stay in touch. As the world grows smaller with advances in technology and our organizations networks grow wider, we must make a conscious effort to be mindful of our capacity to work together through communication. It’s a challenge I myself have lots of room to improve on, but it’s also something that as an organization that we always remain mindful of its importance, as we work to improve the world to the best of our capacities.
Lunenburg, Fred C. (2010) Communication: The Process, Barriers, And Improving Effectiveness. Retrieved from
I am Javier Reyes, a senior student at Merrimack College, located in North Andover, Massachusetts. The college was founded in 1947 by the Order of St. Augustine, with an initial goal to educate World War II veterans. I am double majoring in Theology, and Ethics and Political Philosophy with a minor in Catholic Studies. I am having a tremendous opportunity to do my college internship at the United Nations headquarters in New York, under the office of the Augustinians International. My time in the office is from June 1 – 30, 2019.
Why do I want to do this internship? I envision my dream career not in a cubicle, but working directly with people. I want to become a bridge that connects the problems and needs of a community to the possible solutions and opportunities for them. Human dignity has been diminished by discrimination, poverty, work exploitation, and physical and psychological violence. Additionally, the health and education systems, women and children face injustice and inequality. Human dignity is also negatively impacted by the climate change issue which affects the most vulnerable and poor. In short, human rights are violated and diminished in our communities. For this, I know that the United Nations and Augustinians International are suitable places to learn about these actual problems. Thus, during this internship I want to attain accurate data, statistics, history, and future solutions for these issues.
What do I hope from this internship? I hope to improve my communication and public speaking skills, to develop critical thinking and reasoning when applying my theological and philosophical education, and to analyze the problems previously mentioned. I would also hope to gain new methods for sharing ideas, and to improve my attentiveness and grasp of the main messages of conferences and books. Lastly, I hope to learn about the art of debate and to be able to explain, and apply the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But besides these short term goals, my greatest desire is to have a transformation of mind and spirit every day, and to become a better human.
As an intern I have developed three goals : first, reflection : a weekly reflection on my challenges, weakness, strength, and learning along with a brief description of the conferences I will be attending. Second, learning about advocacy and networking : acquiring specific tools, methods, and systems on how to become an advocate, and learn to create professional networking.
Third, life application : incorporate my learning and understanding of the United Nations into my college and professional life. Next semester I will attempt to work with Lazarus House Ministries, a Non-Profit Organization in Lawrence, Massachusetts. A program that “Works to break the cycle of poverty by providing food, clothing, work preparation, and housing to those in need “.
Bro. Dominic Smith, OSA, a student of theology in Chicago and a member of the California Province, is a specialist in video production. He applies his talents in highlighting the ministries of Augustinians through the use of video and image. His recent production is the orphanage that the Augustinians initiated years ago in Tijuana, Mexico. The video “Casa Hogar La Gloria” can be accessed here:
Report on the 2019 United Nations Commission On The Status of Women (CSW63).
Over 5,000 women from all over the world came to New York for the United Nations Commission On The Status of Women (CSW63). As a delegate with the non-governmental organizationAugustinians International, I was honored to be among that number to ratify the theme of the conference, “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” The assembled representatives also recommitted themselves to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially goal # 5, “Gender Equality.”
Women from every country with a UN mission gave a report on the challenges and developments related to the theme. For example, the representative from Nigeria and West African States noted that 66% of their population is young and 55% are women, many in rural communities. With a view to their development, UN Women have awarded hundreds of scholarships in various technical and vocational fields.
Other examples: The representatives from the Pacific Islands Forum reported their most significant challenge is from the climate crisis. They affirmed the Paris Climate Accord and told of the need for a greater UN presence, especially in the Northern islands. More women leaders are needed, they reported, in strategies for climate change remedies.
Women from the Arab Commission said they would adopt the CSW63 aims. They noted some Arab states have lost the progress they had made. They gave warring areas, terrorism, and immigration as some of the causes for the losses.
At a side event I met with members of my high school alma mater, Loretto Academy in El Paso, Texas. Beth Blissman, Ph.D, the representative to the UN for the Loretto Communities, organized an event with the Loretto high school students who attended the CSW63. The young women are trans-border residents. They have the ability to navigate the different yet integrated languages and cultures of the sister cities of El Paso, TX, USA and Juarez, Chihuahua MX.
The students said they were very familiar with the migrant situation on our border, but learned to ask an important new question at a UN panel discussion: “Why do the migrants come to the border?” The responses, they said, were eye opening. They learned about the migrants’ historical background in the context of US international relations and policies in the Americas.
This experience of high school students discovering the deeper reasons that affect us all is a way the United Nations prepares young men and women to enter the globalized world as informed and caring citizens.
From my perspective, I cannot over estimate the value of these courageous women in every part of the world to bring about creative change. The experience of seeing them work together is truly awesome.
“A world that is good for women is good for everyone.”
Jean Ponder Soto, Ph.D.
Augustinian International NGO Delegate to the United Nations
20 de Marzo de 2019
Reporte de la Comisión de la Condición de la Mujer (CSW63).
Como Delegada de la organización no gubernamental (NGO) Augustinians International, tuve el honor de estar presente entre ese número de participantes para ratificar el tema de la conferencia: “Sistemas de protección social, acceso a servicios públicos e infraestructura sustentable para la igualdad de género y el empoderamiento de las mujeres y niñas”. Las representantes reunidas también se comprometieron consigo mismas al logro de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible, en particular el #5, “Igualdad de Género”. (Los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible ODS en español pueden consultarse en: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/es/)
Mujeres de cada país que tengan misión con las Naciones Unidas entregaron un Reporte sobre los retos y avances relacionados con el tema. Por ejemplo, la representante de Nigeria y del oeste de África resaltó que el 66% de su población es joven, de la cual el 55% son mujeres, muchas de ellas viven en comunidades rurales. Con la intención de impulsar su desarrollo, las mujeres de las Naciones Unidas han obtenido miles de becas en variados campos técnicos y de formación para el trabajo.
Otros ejemplos: Las representantes del Foro de las 18 Islas del Pacífico reportaron que su reto más significativo lo es la crisis climática. Ellas afirmaron el Acuerdo de París para combatir el cambio climático y mencionaron la necesidad de una mayor presencia de las Naciones Unidas, especialmente en la zona norte de esas Islas. Expusieron que se requieren más mujeres líderes con estrategias para remediar el cambio climático.
Mujeres representantes de la región Árabe dijeron que adoptarían los objetivos de la Comisión (CWS). Puntualizaron que algunos estados árabes han perdido el progreso que habían hecho. Mencionaron las zonas de Guerra, el terrorismo y la migración como algunas de las causas de pérdida de progreso.
En la sesión misma, me encontré con colegas de mi alma mater, la preparatoria Loretto Academy, a la que acudí en El Paso, Texas. Beth Blissman, Ph.D, la representante ante las Naciones Unidas de Loretto Communities, organizó un evento con estudiantes de dicha preparatoria, quienes atendieron esta sesión de la Comisión CSW63. Las mujeres jóvenes son residentes transfronterizas. Ellas tienen la habilidad de navegar entre los diferentes idiomas y culturas de las ciudades hermanas de El Paso, Texas, USA y ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México.
Las estudiantes expresaron que, aunque estaban muy familiarizados con la situación migratoria en nuestra frontera, en un panel de discusión de las Naciones Unidas aprendieron a preguntar una nueva cuestión: ¿Por qué vienen los migrantes? Las respuestas -dijeron- fueron reveladoras. Aprendieron sobre los antecedentes históricos de los migrantes en el contexto de las relaciones internacionales de los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica y sus políticas en las Américas.
Esta experiencia de estudiantes de preparatoria descubriendo
las razones profundas que nos afectan a todos: es una manera que las Naciones Unidas prepara a hombres y mujeres jóvenes para incorporarlos al mundo globalizado como ciudadanos informados y responsables.
Desde mi perspectiva, yo no puedo sobreestimar el valor de esas mujeres valientes que en cada parte del mundo producen un cambio creativo. La experiencia de verlas trabajar juntas es verdaderamente impresionante.
“Un mundo que es bueno para las mujeres es bueno para todos”.
Jean Ponder Soto, Ph.D.
Delegada de Augustinian International NGO ante las Naciones Unidas