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Catalyst Trip 2008


The Catalyst Trip was a week-long dynamic experiential learning opportunity to explore women as leaders of social change. The Catalyst Trip brings together Saint Mary's students, faculty, and staff with community women leaders to live and learn together for seven days. There is both intellectual and emotional engagement by participants whose diversity stretches across age, race, education, faith, language, nationality, and sexual orientation.

The Catalyst Trip looks deeply at issues of race, power, and privilege. It is a holistic journey that blends dialogue, diversity workshops, and site visits to community organizations, inner-city neighborhoods, and historic civil rights centers with art, ritual, and poetry to create a transformative intercultural experience. Participants are given concrete tools of analysis and action that they can use for the rest of their lives. The relevance of the trip for students is evident in both their academic and personal development as they connect the trip back into classrooms through conversations, reflections, papers, and presentations.

For more information on the educational process of the trip, read this article The Catalyst Trip: A Journey of Transformation from AAC&U's fall 2007 issue of Diversity and Democracy.

 Places We Visited

Grailville was started by Catholic lay women 60 years ago, initiating the U.S. chapter of the international Grail movement. The Grail women literally and figuratively broke new ground as a women-led spiritual and agrarian-based experiment that influenced a new era in American Catholicism and the Women’s movement. Today it serves as a retreat and training center emphasizing women’s leadership and spiritual development as well as social and environmental justice. We’ll begin our journey in this tranquil setting in Loveland, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. Workshops, reflection times, and dialogues with area women leaders will help us consider our leadership contributions. 

The Peaslee Neighborhood Center
is a re-claimed school building dedicated to the educational and cultural development as well as the political empowerment of the people who live nearby. The Center is located near downtown Cincinnati in what is called The Over-the- Rhine neighborhood, an area plagued by crime and threatened by “gentrification.” Peaslee houses a child care facility, a homework room, a community meeting room, and a music program. It is famous for its Over-the-Rhine Steel Drum Band.

We also be visited with other community-based organizations in the Over-the-Rhine community and walked the neighborhood to witness the clash of a historically poor neighborhood being rapidly developed by downtown professional and cultural interests.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center tells the story of freedom woven through the heroic legacy of the Underground Railroad and the American struggle to abolish enslavement and secure freedom for all people. Located in downtown Cincinnati, the Center uses state-of-the-art technology and is made up of three pavilions that symbolize courage, cooperation and perseverance - the Freedom Center's curving architecture reflects the winding river and the often-changing path to freedom. Rev. Doug Erwin leads us on a tour of the NURFC giving us a sharp historical perspective on the nature and impact of slavery and connects us to the long tradition of changemakers in the U.S.

The Moye Spiritual Life Center is a retreat ministry of the Sisters of Divine Providence situated on the grounds of St. Anne Convent in Melbourne, Kentucky. Located fifteen minutes from Cincinnati, Ohio, Moye Spiritual Life Center offers a wholesome atmosphere for reflection, relaxation and prayer, a place where you can refresh, renew and rediscover the bounty of God’s providential love. We end our experience here asking the question of how we can become leaders of positive change in our own lives and communities.

Our Diversity Trainers

* Dorothy Friesen co-directed a faith-based development program in the Philippines, and co-founded and directed a Chicago based organization that links domestic and international issues of justice, economics and spirituality. Dorothy co-facilitates anti-racism workshops for a variety of church and social agencies with the with specific focus on unmasking white skin privilege. She currently lives in Canada where she is an alternative health care practioner.

* Rosemarie Harris is an experienced diversity facilitator and instructor. During her career, she also served as a police officer, and training instructor and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Rosemarie is certified as a Cultural Diversity Training Instructor for the National Multicultural Institute, Washington, D.C. and a national trainer for the A World of Difference Institute, a division of the Anti-Defamation League.

“We are motivated by our experience and by our dreams.
We see ourselves as people who have power to make change.”

Sarah Brown, Saint Mary’s 2003 Catalyst participant.

© 2004 Center For Women's Intercultural Leadership, All Rights Reserved.