Micah student on Casa program and her passion for people
If the study abroad program ever needs a spokeswoman, they’ll find one in Carla Gibbs. The junior Micah student at Saint Louis University recently participated in a study abroad Casa program, where she spent a life-changing semester in the Philippines experiencing a new culture.
“I love doing service and diving into different cultures,” said Gibbs. She reflected that through the Casa program she was able to accomplish both of these things by experiencing the Filipino culture and learning how to accompany the community.
Established in El Salvador by Santa Clara University, the Casa program is founded on spirituality, simple community living, academic study and accompaniment for those who are suffering. Gibbs was one of the first of two SLU students to participate in the Casa program in the Philippines. She said that the program is not as much about doing things as it is about making connections between people of different cultures and building relationships.
“I want to be skilled in working with all kinds of populations,” stated the friendly social work major. With her love and fascination for people, it’s no surprise that she grew close with her Filipino and Casa families while abroad – despite language barriers. In not knowing the community’s native language, Tagalog, Gibbs was able to find other ways of connecting with people.
“The language of love and laughter is something, in my opinion, that is so prevalent in poverty stricken communities,” Gibbs said. “They’re very rich in their heart instead of in the material world.”
Besides connecting with her Filipino families, Gibbs has also found family within SLU’s own Micah organization – a faith-based learning program that was a huge selling point for her when deciding on colleges.
“I’m just really thankful for that whole community,” Gibbs stated. “We can have fun but be serious and deep together at the same time.”
Gibbs’ passion for the Micah Program and the Jesuit mission are mirrored in her desire to sometime join either the Peace Corps or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
“I want to travel wherever I can in the world,” said Gibbs. She dreams of combining traveling with working with children in third-world countries.
“There’s something about [children] that just makes me come alive and feel like the best me that there is.”