Catholic Charities USA-Bethlehem University internships let students see Catholic social services ‘on the ground’

Students from the Holy Land are spending the summer learning from staff and volunteers at Catholic Charities agencies across the U.S., thanks to a partnership between Catholic Charities USA, based in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va., and Bethlehem University, a Catholic university in the Holy Land.

Eight Palestinian students are getting a weeklong orientation in the Washington area before they spread out across the country for a six-week stint at local Catholic Charities agencies.

Franciscan Monastery in Washington. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Franciscan Monastery in Washington. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

As part of the D.C. stop, the group this afternoon is taking a tour of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, in Washington’s Northeast section. The monastery has a special relationship to the Holy Land — it is operated by the Franciscans who are custodians of the holy places there.

Through this cross-cultural internship program, the visiting students will get an introduction to poverty on both a “micro- and macro-level,” and they also will share their own experiences with the staff and volunteers of local agencies.

“We are very happy to be able to offer these students with opportunities for on-the-ground experience helping others through social services,” said Father Larry Snyder, Catholic Charities USA, said in a statement announcing this first-of-its-kind program for the national Charities network.

“This internship program is an opportunity to students to engage with the mission of the Catholic Church and apply it to the real-world challenges facing so many,” the priest said. “We hope they will take these life-altering experiences and stories back to Palestine and call others to meet the needs of their community.”

Palestinian students study on campus of Bethlehem University in this 2012 photo. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

Palestinian students study on campus of Bethlehem University in this 2012 photo. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

The Bethlehem University students, their field of study and the agencies where they will serve are: Yara Al Adili, business administration, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas; Dima Al Mukarker, accounting, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington; Christina Jueejat, accounting, Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona; Nagib Kasbary, business administration, Catholic Charities of Sacramento; Areej Masoud, religious studies, Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas; Bahaa Nairoukh, accounting, Catholic Charities Diocese of La Crosse, Wis.; Mirna Nassar, accounting, Catholic Charities of Des Moines, Iowa; and Fadi Saleh, computer information systems, with Catholic Charities Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio.

Bethlehem University is a Catholic institution in the Lasallian tradition whose mission is to provide quality higher education to the people of Palestine.

These students will be recording their internship experiences throughout the summer with blog postings.

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