Thursday, February 23, 2012


I never expected that in my lifetime there would be a movement like Occupy Wall Street, and especially not as a college student. It absolutely never crossed my mind that it would be necessary at any point. Protests, and prolonged demonstrations fighting for some sort of systemic change seemed like things straight out of a history book. No longer do we have one exact cause to fight for because half of our people believe that little is wrong. In an age where technology rules and information is everywhere, I believe it was always in the back of my mind that there would never be a need for something like this to even occur, because there are so many pieces of todays world that would make short business of, well, anything.

Frankly, I now look at the current actions being taken and realize how naive that way of thinking was. I’ve heard it said by many people that the Occupy movement has no real purpose, that the people involved don’t know what they want, and where they do they lack the answers everyone is convinced are necessary for change. In the research I’ve done and the experience I had going to Occupy San Diego last Saturday, I can say in full confidence that the issues, like these ones, that people are trying to take up with the movement are both entirely valid and completely asinine.

When Rhea and I went to the Convention Center to learn more about Occupy San Diego, I had few expectations. My sole desire was to learn. I had some general ideas about my stance on the movement beforehand, but where better to learn more than at the source? Right away, we found out that the small group of people that were there were about to march around the Gaslamp Quarter. So we jumped right in. It was actually one of the most surreal experiences of my life. There were probably only fifteen of us - measly compared to the numbers at Wall Street - but I grasped right then and there in a way that I had never before that every person is one more than there was before. In addition to chanting, I heard stories from other Occupiers that I never expected, and Rhea even read some powerful statements written by one of USD’s professors. People honked, cheered, boo’d, questioned, and most overwhelmingly people stared, wide-eyed, at us as we passed by them, as if they had no idea how to respond. I don’t think those images will ever leave my head. There were only fifteen of us and yet everyone was responding in some way. What they were thinking, I’ll never know, but they saw us and they thought about it. That is all I could ask for, and would ask for. Nothing will be changed unless people are truly thinking about actions taking place around them.

We eventually made it back to the Convention Center, where we conversed with some of the people who were there. They told us about previous raids, how Occupiers have been working together, what changes have taken place over the past few weeks, and why they believed in the movement. Following this was the General Assembly, where at least a hundred people were in attendance, discussing and arguing about ideas in the same way that any other large group would. But as tedious as some of the things discussed seemed to be, they were all joined together, trying to move forward and make the movement more accessible and widely known. The questions that still come up on the outside, though, are these: Joined together in what? What is the common cause? I, like many others, have a hard time putting an answer into words. Again, it’s a valid point to make. When a group of people come together, upset about the systemic problems that corrupt our country, but are unable pinpoint one problem that needs to be fixed to make everything better, it’s hard to find reason to support them. But it’s unfair to say they have no purpose, as the media has proclaimed, time and time again. The problem is that there are multiple issues the movement is trying to address. These include: a more equal distribution of income, bank reform, and for an end of corporate influence on politics.

It’s true that protestors don’t have the all-encompassing answer that will alleviate these issues. They don’t have the one action needed to fight for the rights of the 99 percent, but they do know that there is an unfair system in place right now that needs serious reform. A solution is not the goal. Recognition is the goal. Recognition that there is an overarching problem that is ignored by the “One Percent.” Their occupation at the San Diego Convention Center, and at other locations around the country, is just the beginning of the awareness and solidarity needed with all people.

While I have found this an enlightening experience and plan to spend more time supporting the movement, I do not expect everyone to have these sentiments. What I do hope though, is that people will take the time to ask, read, and learn. There is more to this movement than meets the eye, and I believe that, with time, it will grow in ways that will become a great lesson for this generation.

Written by Alyssa Black

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Welcome Fall 2011 Students

Welcome Welcome Welcome!

CASA and CSL are so excited for a brand new year of volunteering and service activities for the Linda Vista Community.

As you can see we have updated our blog to make it easier for students to get information about their programs quickly. Check out our pages to see a blurb about each of our programs, as well as our staff, or read testimonials from students just like yourself.

Put these dates on your calendar if you are signed up for volunteering this semester and check back for future updates on goings on in the community:

Training- Tuesday, Sept 13th, 12:30-1:30pm in Maher 207
Orientation- Tuesday, Sept 20th, 1:00pm-2:00pm at Neighborhood Housing Association
Juvenile Hall:
Orientation - Tuesday Sept 13th, 12:30-1:30pm in Maher 205 OR
Thursday Sept 15th, 12:30-1:30pm in Maher 205
Training - Tuesday Sept 20th, 4:30-7:30pm On-Site
Friday Sept 23rd, 4:30-7:30pm On-Site
Saturday, Sept 24th, 10:30am-1:30pm On-Site
Bayside at Carson:
Orientation- Tuesday, Sept 13th, 12:30-1:30pm at Carson Elementary

Have a Great Week!!
-CASA Office

Thursday, September 1, 2011

25 Years of Changemaking - What CASA/CSL Means to You by Alyssa Black

The summer leading up to my freshman year at USD, I received an unexpected call from the Student Director of what was then called America Reads/America Counts. “Are you still interested in joining this community service-learning program under your work-study award?” “Oh wow. I had no idea I’d be getting a phone call this summer. Absolutely, yes!”

Little did I know how drastically that simple affirmation would change my entire college experience.

For the past two years I have worked at Linda Vista Elementary through this work-study program, now called Youth to College. I have worked with students all along the social and economic spectrum. I have worked with students with autism and ADHD. I have worked with some students that hated school, some who loved school, and some who thought it their refuge. After some time, I finally realized that every student has one thing in common with all the others - spirit. Their eyes would light up with a bright idea, a story they were telling, or information that just went “click!” It was this incredible spirit for life that allowed me to see that it wasn’t just me teaching them; they were teaching me just as much. They tested my patience and understanding (I passed), reinvented my meaning of community involvement, and forced me to appreciate the small things in life. I have learned that working in the community is not just about helping, but about building. It is about building those relationships that you never expected to have and working together for something better. I don’t think I would have ever realized this without those kids. Very few want to simply be told how to fix something and left to their own devices. When we did activities together, we all felt much more enjoyment and success.

As my involvement in the CASA office has grown, I have grasped the fact that this can be applied to anything that CASA is involved it. The work done here is not just to place people in a situation to “help the needy.” Instead, everything here is aimed at building a better community where diversity doesn’t alienate anyone, but gives us all more reason to work together to fight problems that affect us all and make positive changes that lead to more peace and unity.

I truly believe that without CASA, my USD experience would have been without a purpose. I would have gone to class and gone home, with some trips to the beach thrown in there, of course. I would never have built the ties I have built, and I would never seen the beautiful Linda Vista community right up the street from our campus. These experiences have shaped my eyes for the future and made every day feel like it matters. Simple things like my daily interactions are more positive and friendly, and I am much more willing to be a part of a whole, rather than place myself in a hole made only for one, which I have admittedly done before. There is so much out there for us to be part of, and I’m glad I’ve been given the chance to see that. And, as the new Student Director of Youth to College, I can only hope that I can help someone else find the purpose I did. I am convinced that together we can make the world better, step by courageous step.

So, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

I know my answer. Do you know yours?

25 years of Change Making: What CASA/CSL Means to You by Celina Gonzalez

Hi, my name is Celina Gonzalez and I am a senior at USD. I have been fortunate enough to be adopted into the USD CASA/CSL family for the past three years. Without the support and the investment CASA has in their students to promote their personal growth while serving the community, I would not be standing where I am right now. Constantly searching for ways to do more, to work in the community, and advocate for equality in education, CASA has supported me throughout my college journey.

Mahatma Ghandi stated, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” CASA/CSL has nurtured my growth through self-improvement via exploration to find purpose in what I do and a connection to the world. Participating in a community of advocacy, communication, and action through service has provided me a new understanding of service, how I may contribute to a greater cause, but also how to receive.

Tutoring students and collaborating to develop curriculum for the Linda Vista Bayside Community Center Academic Club at Carson Elementary allows students to be exposed to and have access to a quality education. I am looking forward to working alongside community partners and CASA members to provide support for high school students and parents while educating them about post high school options through a newly developing program at Bayside Community Center. The new program is called Mission: Possible. Finally, I am ecstatic to participate in the NOLA leadership and immersion trip this year! I have never traveled to New Orleans or participated in a community immersion trip and I cannot wait for all the adventures to come working alongside genuine and good-hearted fellow CASA members and the New Orleans community.

In telling you my experiences with the CASA/CSL family I invite you to be a part of this wonderful family. Please join us in learning more about yourself as well as supporting an awesome community.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 AIDS Walk

September 26 was a beautiful, sunny day in San Diego. We had blue skies, hot weather and over sixty USD students, faculty and friends for the 21st Annual AIDS Walk!

From our Campus-Wide Cupcake Challenge, O-N-E Dollar Challenge, Red Shoelace Campaign and the Walk itself, USD CASA partnered with PRIDE and Rainbow Educators to bring together a diverse group of participants and break USD fundraising efforts with a total of $2,516.00 raised!! Yes, you read that correctly: two thousand, five hundred and sixteen dollars, straight to the SD AIDS Foundation!

Infinite thanks to all of our participants, PRIDE, Rainbow Educators, AMSA and community support! This event wouldn't have been a success without you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall 2010 Student Training!

Our students spent a long summer apart: relaxing, travelling, working and continuing CASA's mission all over the globe. As amazing as summer is, there is nothing like coming home to the CASA Family in San Diego.

We closed our summer and kicked off our year with a bit of artistic story-telling, sharing our passion for service and learning from each other's experiences as we unite to Ignite Change in our communities. We heard some pretty epic Spoken Word from Instrumental Voices (check out the video below!), stories from our wonderful staff and spent time together eating Mexican food, recognizing our connections and visioning for our upcoming year!

We've got big hopes and plans, so be on the lookout!
For now, enjoy the pictures and awesome video from our very successful training!

Lady Elise--"My Generation"

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet Jeremy: Office Manager and Inter-Department Liason!

Hi! My name is Jeremy Alexander Theodore Day and I’m going to be a senior at USD and one day hope to rule the world!

Over the last seven months, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience different corners of the globe (from Madrid, to Guadalajara to DC and Memphis) and now, I’m extremely excited to return to the wonderful University of San Diego and continue the role as Office Manager for CASA. For this upcoming year as office manager, I plan to make our transition in leadership as smooth and successful as possible. I will continue to build our numbers of volunteers and continue to spread awareness for what our department stands for and loves to do.

I helped build and currently oversee a youth-college informational program that partners with the San Diego School District to select elementary and middle schools to attend USD campus tours and sporting events; students from athletics, Greek Life and many other departments on campus help to introduce and inform parents of the opportunities that their children have to attend college.

This year, I will aid the International Center in creating collaborations between the CSL/CASA department and international studies abroad in order to make the student study abroad experience as enjoyable, educational and meaningful as possible. I am also the Community Outreach/Philanthropy Chair for my fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and I'm in charge of constructing service projects for Beta's USD chapter and organizing our annual philanthropy event, called Surf As One. Surf As One is a surf competition to raise money for the organization Life Rolls On, which is a nonprofit spinal chord research organization.

(For more information on Life Rolls On, click here!)

I am extremely excited for this upcoming year and all of the progress and expansion that is in store for us!