The Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR) started a new ambassador program, focused on increasing involvement within. There are 15 student ambassadors who will be given new opportunities to help with and be educated in the social justice work the CJR is doing, according to Elaine Giles, sophomore sociology student and CJR intern.
Giles and the two other interns were the main developers of this program after Dr. Jamie Gates, Director of the CJR and PLNU professor of sociology, wanted to include more students in their work.
“We only have space on our team for a few interns, but we wanted to grow the ability to get involved and to have a more formal way for students to get involved,” Gates said. “We’re hoping for a growing student movement.”
The program will be a blend of hands-on work and education, with the ambassadors having an opportunity for documentary nights and meetings in the community, like with victims’ services, aimed at letting them learn through observing.
“I think what interests me the most is learning, and that’s the biggest thing with social justice issues,” Giles said. “In reality, we can do as much as we can in the community, but I think learning and becoming Christians and humans that are educated on race relations, border issues, fair trade, sex trafficking, all that stuff, is gonna make us better people who are going to educate the people around us.”
By allowing more students to get involved, the new ambassador program offers an outlet for students looking to help with social justice issues.
“I’ve always had this passion for equal rights and human rights, mainly women’s rights. I’ve always been asking God ‘how am I going to fit this into my life?’” Melanie Coffman, freshman journalism major, said. “Once I came to Point Loma, I learned about the CJR program.”
Each ambassador was placed on one of three teams led by CJR interns. According to Giles, one team focuses on data entry and the Human Trafficking Research and Data Advisory Roundtable, a yearly conference for those doing research into things related to human trafficking. They also will watch webinars on the research being done in San Diego.
The second team focuses on external relations, specifically fundraising with events like “Hope Rising,” which raises money for the “Beauty for Ashes Scholarship,” a scholarship for survivors of human trafficking. The third team assists with “kNOw More,” a human trafficking awareness program, “Churches Against Trafficking,” and “Roots of Giving,” PLNU’s fair trade fair. Finley Stitt, a freshman international studies major, is a member of this team and is looking to learn more about the social justice issues this program tackles.
“I’m hoping to learn more about fair trade, because I don’t know as much about that. I’m also hoping to learn more about how advocating works. And I want to learn about how churches are getting involved, because I feel like that’s something God is calling us to do.”
For students interested in becoming an ambassador, there will be another opportunity to join next semester, according to Giles. Gates also encourages those interested to contact him or CJR office assistant Patty Richardson.