Jessica Zawrotny ’09 worked with peers on a variety of social justice issues, but fair trade became her passion: she served as Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) ambassador for fair trade.
The results of Zawrotny’s work can be seen all over Cabrini’s campus, from the student restaurant where fair trade coffee and bananas are served, to the College’s annual Fair Trade Day, which she helped organize as an undergraduate.
The Experience of a Lifetime
The following was excerpted from Jessica Zawrotny’s comments at the Nov. 15, 2008 Inaugural Gala honoring Marie Angelella George, Ph.D. Here, Zawrotny talks about a pivotal experience that inspired her to become a CRS fair trade ambassador.
"I could tell of many wonderful experiences I’ve had as a Cabrini student, but instead, I’ll focus on just one about my transformation.
My sophomore year, I chose to go on an alternative spring break trip to Ecuador, sponsored by the Wolfington Center and Catholic Relief Services.
The name of the immersion trip, Rostro de Cristo, means “the Face of Christ.” During this experience, I found the face of Christ in the people I met.
I saw it in Gabriel, a man who worked in the community [in which we stayed]. His generosity and strong beliefs still inspire me today. Living on just a dollar a day, Gabriel is happy with the love of his beautiful wife and the opportunity to work.
When I returned from my trip, I wanted to find a way to continue my commitment. I had learned about fair trade in Ecuador, and how it can raise the standard of living for people who are struggling to make ends meet.
I took a Leadership of the Heart course which helped me apply Catholic Social Teachings to areas of my life that, before, I never thought of as matters of justice. From this, I learned that I could actually make a change on campus, and even in the world, by working with my peers as a CRS Fair Trade Ambassador.
Because I made one decision—to go on a different kind of spring break trip—I found out what community means; I saw the face of Christ in strangers; and I learned that I have the power to change systems and change the world.
I learned that even my little voice can and will be heard because justice matters."