College Strengthens Ties to Holy Land with Visit from CRS Country Representative

Hilary Dubose, the Catholic Relief Services country representative for Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, visited campus to discuss her human development work and the College’s partnership with CRS.

Since being named a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Global Campus in 2014, Manhattan College has worked to advance the global social mission of the Catholic Church at the institutional, faculty and student levels.

In April, the College welcomed Hilary Dubose, the CRS country representative for Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, for a two-day visit to campus in conjunction with the College-wide celebration of Mission Month.

“This visit is our initial investment in a particular CRS relationship, in a particular part of the world that we see as very important,” says Lois Harr, assistant vice president and director of Campus Ministry and Social Action (CMSA). “It’s a concrete way of living out our mission.”

During her stay, Dubose met with key faculty and administrators at the College to discuss collaborative research efforts and new exchange opportunities following a faculty trip to the Holy Land in January. She also gave a keynote address open to the entire community about how to turn human development into a viable career.

Watch Hilary’s Talk on Human Development:

“I grew up fascinated by other cultures, other people. I grew up wanting to do some good, and I had no idea that [international humanitarian aid] was actually a career path I could pursue,” she said.

Offering educational and professional advice to students looking to pursue international development, Dubose stressed the importance of volunteering to work on local poverty and justice issues as an undergraduate.

“I think it’s important to develop empathy, develop your ability to listen to the people you serve, and develop humility,” she said.

Dubose also spoke with several students in classrooms and during a conversational Slice of Social Justice presentation, during which she discussed the two feet of social action — charity and justice — and how this dual approach to aid work was used in Palestine following the war in 2014, beginning with direct outreach and working toward sustainable, lasting change.  

“Hilary's visit came 50 years, almost to the day, that the College hosted a major conference on peace,” said Kevin Ahern, Ph.D., assistant professor of religious studies and director of the peace studies program. “If there is any hope for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, a more educated American public is absolutely fundamental.”

Looking ahead, the College hopes to bring a CRS or peace studies visiting scholar to campus each spring. And in just a few weeks, Manhattan will welcome five students from Bethlehem University to conduct research projects on campus this summer. Further down the road, CMSA is planning a Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.) trip to Palestine.

“Given Manhattan College’s relationship to Bethlehem University and the commitment of the Brothers and CRS to the region, we have a real challenge and opportunity to educate our students and the wider public on peace and the realities of the region,” Ahern says.
By Julie Benns