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College leaders gear up for annual trip

Marisa Sandahl | Wednesday, September 8, 2004

The Catalyst Road Trip, an annual program from the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) at Saint Mary’s, aims to create a weekend of conversation with the prospects of social change.Every fall break for the past three years, CWIL has sponsored this unique trip, which is open to Saint Mary’s students and faculty, as well as to women leaders from the Michiana area.Bonnie Bazata, the woman behind the trip, hosted a 30-minute film Tuesday in Carroll Auditorium that documented the experiences of six different women who attended last year. Students, including former student body vice president Sarah Brown, and faculty, like CWIL director Tracy Robison, shared their particular journeys in the documentary.The trip, which kicks off with a short preparatory workshop at Saint Mary’s, is a weeklong excursion that first takes participants to Grailville – a 300-acre education and retreat center in Loveland, Ohio. The trip also includes visits to the Peaslee Neighborhood Center in inner-city Cincinnati and the Highlander Research and Educational Center in New Market, Tenn., which trains groups in social equality and social justice issues. Along the way, participants are encouraged to engage in conversation and discussion about social justice and women’s issues.Some community leaders who have attended in the past include Mary Morgan, a Saint Mary’s alumna who is now CEO of Girl Scouts of America, and Johnnye Gibbs, a retired social work director for the Head Start program.This year, Bazata feels that the trip is garnering more interest. She said she hopes it will prove to be as insightful an experience as it has been in past years.The trip has also received attention through the support of Saint Mary’s faculty members. At least five professors, who teach in areas such as Women’s Studies, Social Work and Psychology, are offering extra credit of some sort to students who participate in this trip.The community leaders attending this year were all sought out through invitation, and the spots have been filled. However, there are still seats available for students, and applications will be accepted until Sept. 24.