“Building Bridges” – Chiang Ching (Tina) of Chinese Catholic University Student Association (CCUSA) of Taiwan experience sharing of IMCS International Council 2017
Have you ever questioned yourself what a Catholic should be like? Am I different? Am I proud of being a Catholic? I’ve been wondering all these questions during my IMCS journey, for it’s a journey of awareness and introspection. The shining sun led our way to the mountains, breezes ruffling up my curiosity of this exotic country. It was my very first experience in IMCS. As the representative of Taiwan, I was grateful and honoured to participate in the 2017 IMCS International Council which is the global level second-high decision making council of IMCS – Pax Romana held in Foligno, Italy from 28th August to 8th September 2017. For both my country and I, it was a golden opportunity to join in this global family. Everything seems new and challenging. But I am ready to serve in Jesus’ name.
On the first day of the council I met all those beautiful spirits from all around the world, nervous and worried as I thought, as soon as I attended the Holy Mass presided by Fr. Fratern Masawe SJ, the International chaplain of IMCS Pax Romana, I knew this is a place I will call home. Wherever I am, whatever language is spoken, within our Catholic church, we all celebrate the same miracle, being raised up by the same father, and listen to the same word from our Lord. It was the moment that I realized how blessed I am as a Catholic, a catholic that embraces the world with solidarity and unity. There’s no barrier in faith. There’s no difference between our loves to the Lord. And this glowing love would spread to the one besides us just like how each participant greeted me with those radiant and caring smiles when I just arrived. All of the sudden, I know this is my family here.
During our first meeting, each country presented the realities of our own situation based on the topic: “Building bridges: protecting migrants by empowering students”. We had representatives from North America, Europe, Middle East, South America, Africa and Asia (yeah!me!), who are all young leaders contributing in our national movements. By listening to different countries’presentations, its give us clearer understanding of each other’s ability and disability. Every country has its own reality. And because of this difficulty; we are all here gathering to understand and find the solutions for the issues. All those young and smart individuals have touched me so many times when seeing them devote themselves to understand others’ difficulties, to approach more complex and global position. This triggered me to think again why we are different from others. We’re here together not only because we care about this issue, but because we can see this problem through our religious perspective, and as I know that is from the eyes of Jesus with endless and unconditional love. “For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you took me in.” We are here to serve the poorest, the weakest Jesus. And that’s the most important difference and strength that we have. Being a Catholic student is not just attending weekly Sunday Mass; we can do so much more with our young hearts.
After days of meetings and courses, we have listened to lots of experts on migration and even the refugee sharing life stories with us. Luca Marin from CIEMI (Center for Information and Studies on International Migration) has provided us the backgrounds and calls of migrants, and most importantly, how can we do for them in both mental and political level. To know the migration background is to see the real world. It is totally beyond history and geography, which brings us back to the origin of civilization where nobody should be excluded or discriminated by their races. Later on, Christopher Dekki, the IMCS UN advocacy team leader demonstrated the aspect of political advocacy of a Catholic student that enabled us to know how to manage our knowledge and strength in the global platform. To most of my amazement the Catholic Social Teaching that Fr. Antoine Sondag and Fr. Masawe shared with us got me thinking profoundly about how a young Catholic should be. We Christians have three basic truths which is life, faith and solution. Jesus is the one who brought our life and faith together. And a solution is to find faith in our daily life, contributing our gifts to the church, fulfilling the virtue of the bible. By seeking the truth of solution, we can simply follow the constant circle: To look at life, reflect what’s going on, to see, judge and act. And here’s the worthiest thing I’ve learnt from IMCS: See before you judge, judge with your critical sight, take action before well recognizing the problem, see and judge again on your action. It’s so important to reflect on our selves every day, refreshed with the tenderness of mercy and grow with the wisdom of life.
Here’s another experience that I can’t forget for my entire life. One of the nights, Sameh Kamel, a member of IMCS UN advocacy team from Egypt requested us to make a row in the straight line. Then, he started to ask several questions, if your answer is yes, step forward, vice versa. “Does your country provide sustainable drinking water?” “Do you ever work/live under an unbalanced gender proportion?”“Do you study in private school?” “Do you dare to walk alone on the street at night? Twenty of us started this game with all of us in a same row as equal and by end of the game we were not in in the same straight line. And I know at that moment, it was about international view. There were a few of my friends standing behind me. And I believed it was not something I should boast about, because our mission is to look back, to see things we always fail to see, the inequality. It’s a world that we don’t dare to see the misery. We refuse to face poverty, disability and cruelty. But I couldn’t bear seeing any of my friends living in such condition. The world is unfair, but it is human to change this unfairness and its in our hands to bring about the change. When we started to see it, we have already made a difference in our own world, for the real compassion is to witness pain fearlessly.
I’ve learnt and seen so much along the journey, especially to acknowledge what I’ve missed and been lack of. We made a short film together which brought our concerns on refugee issues; we analyzed using SWOT within our communities; we practiced on how to speak out our minds in United Nation conferences. Moreover, I met all the inspiring people that I admire and respect so much. This is a life time friendship and partnership that will be stored in the bottom of my heart. We are all just young students but because we are young, we are fearless and powerful. While we are young, our evangelization can be sharing the ideas of stopping discrimination toward migrants or encouraging friends to care about the nature. The influence that a young man can extend is immeasurable. There’re many things we can change, just start our journey with see, judge and act.
Pope Francis once said, “I would like to remind you that being happy is not having a sky without storms, or roads without accidents, or work without fatigue, or relationships without disappointments. Being happy is finding strength in forgiveness, hope in one’s battles, security at the stage of fear, love in disagreements.” After my IMCS journey of awareness and introspection, I know I’m happy. I’m different and I’m proud of being a Catholic.