Dear CSSP Family & Supporters:
We would like to express our love for our CSSP students and alumni and recognize that they are on the front line of the pandemic that has swept this nation. Yes, there is the Covid-19 pandemic, that has hit NYC the hardest, and the Bronx in particular, which our students call home. Yet there is a centuries old pandemic, one of racism and hatred, that hasn’t always been front and center in the national psyche. That is until now, with the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. In this watershed moment, we recognize that many of our young CSSP students are also at the front line of this pandemic of racism and injustice. We stand in solidarity and love with our students and their families as we all demand justice and change. Our world is asking a lot of our young people, in the midst of a global pandemic, being isolated from their schools and friends, and now having to experience the nation face up to the plague of systemic racism, all right on their front doorstep. As individuals, as a nation we must do better. The time is now. We stand arm and arm with our students, declaring Black Lives Matter, as we look to a more just future.
As we look outward to the world to demand justice and change, we also use this time to look inward at our CSSP program and reflect. CSSP asks itself what can we do? While our volunteer program is an academic and cultural enrichment program, the heart of CSSP is the connections between host families, students, teachers and the community that is built from that. Learning about each other’s diverse experiences breeds understanding and empathy. This is the glimmer of hope in these dark times, that our meaningful connections will lead the way to a brighter shared future of equal justice, and a path toward ending systemic racism in our world. We will continue to work towards how we can confront racism in our own community and keep finding ways to promote more connections and understanding from within our program.
When reflecting on the wonderful CSSP students and alumni, our hearts are lightened with hope, because we know that these young people are the answer to a more just future for our country. Their willingness to face adversity, try new things, challenge themselves, and leave their comfort zone each summer gives us great confidence that they can lead the way for their peers and us all. CSSP students broaden our horizons as much as our program has expanded theirs and for that we are deeply grateful.
In the recent words of President Barack Obama, “Build a community. No one does big things by themselves….So be alive to one another’s struggles. Stand up for one another’s rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us - sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed- and set the work on a different path”. The proud CSSP community we have all built is here to help forge that path together to end racism and injustice. History does indeed have it’s eyes on all of us, let’s show them what we’ve got.
With peace and resolve to work for a better and more loving world,
The CSSP Board
Inara de Leon
Jennifer Mebes Flagg