By Dan DiPrinzio
A young Frances Xavier Cabrini once petitioned Pope Leo XIII to work as a missionary in China, but was told by the pontiff to go “not to the East, but to the West,” to work with Italian immigrants in New York.
122 years after Frances Cabrini wished to go to Asia, communication major Danielle Alio ’12 traveled “to the East” to Taiwan and South Korea on a two-week mission trip.
She was one of two winners of a Maryknoll Explore My Mission Contest, sponsored by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, an overseas outreach mission. Joseph Houde, a junior at Franciscan University, was the other winner.
After an 18-hour trip to Taipei, Taiwan, Alio connected with the local Maryknoll house’s Father Joyalito and Father Alfanso. She and Houde immediately began learning about the struggles of migrant workers from the Philippines and Vietnam in Taiwan.
Many of the migrant workers toil in textile and clothing mills, dangerous work that is compounded by the lack of supervision and training. One such worker, Marivic, is a 20-year-old Filipino who has been responsible for taking care of her family since her father died when she was six. Marivic told Alio that faith carries her through the days, and that she hopes to change the demeaning, disrespectful culture in which many migrant workers live.
In Taichung, Taiwan, Alio visited Maryknoll’s Good Samaritan Shelter for homeless women, a place where some of the Vietnamese migrant workers seemingly had been discarded like junk from the mills—women forced to serve as sex slaves, or who lost limbs in factories that make spare parts for major automobile companies.
Hearing their stories made a profound impact on Alio; and knowing that places such as the shelter—and people such as Sister Marvie, the shelter’s leader—exist, filled Alio with hope.
“The most memorable part of the trip was interacting with the Filipino and Vietnamese migrant workers,” she said. “Hearing their stories really touched my heart, and I’ve been thinking about them and praying for them every day. It is a wonderful thing that such shelters are in Taichung, because it means that there is help for these people.”
The last stop on the trip was South Korea, where Alio visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the heavily fortified buffer zone at the 38th parallel which divides the Korean Peninsula into the North and the South—countries that, technically, still are at war.
At the DMZ, Alio did what few Americans have done—enter into North Korea at the joint security area, a small building where top officials meet.
While she was only in the communist country for exactly two minutes, she called the experience “unreal—I could not believe I was standing in a small part of North Korea. There I was between two different countries [that] were once one nation. I couldn’t help but think of all of the history this place holds for both sides, for their citizens and for the world in general.”
The winning video Alio submitted for the contest showcases her commitment to service, and sheds light on people most in need, such as those in Haiti, Sudan, Swaziland, and immigrants in the U.S. To view Alio’s video, visit www.exploremymission.org and click on the “Video Galleries” tab, and to read more about her trip, visit www.daniellealio.com.
A native of North Wales, Pa., Alio has earned Dean’s List honors each semester at Cabrini. Her other activities include serving as managing editor of The Loquitur; as executive producer of LOQation, a webcast that puts The Loquitur’s stories online; hosting two shows on the College’s radio station; and performing in Cabrini Theater productions. Her younger sister, Courtney, is a junior psychology major at Cabrini.
Reflecting on her experience in Asia, Alio talks of how her mission is clear—to use the skills she learns at Cabrini to succeed professionally, while continuing to make a difference.
“I want to stay involved with video production, especially when it comes to producing documentaries,” she said. “This mission trip has also inspired me to keep traveling and learning more about the world we live in.”