Frequent power outages in a rural Ethiopian town and limited social activity opportunities give middle school teacher Jabriel Hasan, now half-way through his assignment as a Peace Corps Volunteer, a lot of time to think about life. What Ive realized is that the purpose of human life, particularly as a Christian, is to embrace the world with radical empathy, Hasan says. Every person is called to love the world so deeply that he or she comes to glimpse it through the eyes of the Creator to see the world, not as nations and borders, but as a diverse, divine creation. In retrospect, I see that this was the purpose of my education at Marymount University.
Hasan came to Marymount with a strong desire to serve the well-being of the world. But with a full academic load, extracurricular and campus leadership activities such as Student Government Association president, and an active social calendar, he had done little volunteer service in college until one Saturday morning. The volunteers at the D.C.-area Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresas international organization, begin the day early, Hasan explains. We started at 6:30 with morning Mass preceding breakfast, followed by the days work of wiping down beds. It was definitely a sacrifice for a sociable college student, he admits. Yet, making that small sacrifice changed my lifes path and led me to the work Im doing now. I saw women who had given their whole lives to service. The nuns had chosen to marry Christ and to see Him in the people who the world so often abandons: the old, the sick and people living in poverty. That morning, my heart changed.
The next Monday, Hasan chose to pair his communication major with a social entrepreneurship minor in order to focus fully on philanthropic work. Ive heard someone say, God will resource Gods will. A change, which might well have added a semester or two to my college tenure, fit perfectly into my plan to complete my bachelors in four years. What had started as a small volunteer service experience became a foundation for my future.
An MU Global Ambassador, Hasan credits the schools Center for Global Education with igniting his passion to develop a global perspective. He delved deeper into social justice and international business practices, studying small business in action in Estonia with his Entrepreneurship class. He learned more about conditions in developing nations on a mission trip with Campus Ministry to the Dominican Republic. In an internship through Marymount, he served the homeless with the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington. The more I experienced, the more I came to have compassion and understanding for the diversity of experiences within creation.
Upon graduation in 2015, Hasan began his Peace Corps assignment. Teaching in a developing country with massive problems in health, business, infrastructure, and education throughout has taught me that change usually happens slowly in small increments, and the process is far from ideaI. I experience the struggles of development work every day when I am given 45 minutes to teach ninth grade English to 100 students 75 percent of whom lack the fundamental skills necessary to construct five, original, grammatically correct sentences. However, I can strategize small ways to make small differences in the short term, which, by careful planning and implementation, will eventually produce results greater than my original goals and objectives.
A commitment to serving has brought the MU alumnus to this realization: The call to radical empathy compels those living outside of poverty to address the injustices and prejudices inherent in our social institutions so that we can all live fully. Hasan explains part of the mission of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Marymounts founding order, is service to those most in need of justice. He sums up the impact of his experiences at a university built on such a foundation, I credit Marymount University with nurturing the spirit of the sacred heart within me. Ultimately, it is this spirit that has led me and continues to lead me through a life of service.
Jabriel Hasan with members of Camp GLOW, Girls Leading Our World, a camp in over 60 countries established by Peace Corps Volunteers 15 years ago to empower women and address specific challenges in their local communities.
Jabriel Hasan with students during his practice teaching in his early days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia.