Hanna Tadevich, FCLC ’15, is completely invested in the therapeutic power of the arts.
A graduate of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program in dance who double majored in English, Tadevich says that the arts have long informed who she is “as a person and as a humanitarian.”
But her experience in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps is what truly solidified her decision to “commit my life to fostering community and justice by using music, dance, creative writing, and the visual arts.”
As a Jesuit Volunteer for the past eight months, Tadevich has been working at the McClendon Center in Washington, D.C., a day program for adults with severe mental illnesses or who are recovering from addiction. Tadevich facilitates creative arts-based therapy groups there every day.
She is one of 15 Fordham graduates working locally in urban and rural areas across the U.S. as well as in Belize and Peru, through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) and JVC Northwest. Both organizations place volunteers for one- or two-year stints in communities that are tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges: homelessness, hunger, mental illness, crime, and poverty.
A common thread among the Fordham volunteers is their participation in the University’s Global Outreach program, which brings students on cultural and service trips that focus on economic, environmental, political, and social injustices around the world.
The program’s director, Paul Francis, GSAS ’03, GABELLI ’10, explains that, much like JVC placements, Global Outreach’s one- to two-week service-learning trips “focus more on solidarity than charity.”
And they inspire many students to make a commitment to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps upon graduation. At least eight and often as many as 20 Fordham graduates volunteer for JVC each year, not including those who volunteer for JVC Northwest.
That was certainly the case for Tadevich, whose experience on four Global Outreach trips—two to Ecuador, one to the Dominican Republic, and one to Camden, New Jersey—prepared her for JVC.
“I was always interested in service work, but I didn’t have a social analysis framework to understand the systems, the issues, or even the marginalized populations I would encounter,” Tadevich says. She got that through Global Outreach. “It was an overwhelming experience to understand that charity only goes so far, and also to see that it was feasible to commit your life to something beyond yourself.”
She’s doing just that as a Jesuit Volunteer at the McClendon Center. “It’s been an incredible blend of my arts background and my love for human relationships,” she says.
Tadevich, a Chicago native, hopes to stay with the center for a second year, something she believes will be beneficial for her patients while also giving her more practical experience before she pursues a master’s degree in social work.
Patrick “PJ” Brogan, FCRH ’15, who double majored in American studies and economics at Fordham, also got interested in JVC through Global Outreach.
“Global Outreach lets you learn about a place in a particular sort of way that you don’t get to in a classroom or as a student,” says Brogan, who is originally from Philadelphia. His service-learning trips to Kentucky, Alaska, Detroit, and San Diego sparked his interest in working with people experiencing homelessness. Through JVC Northwest, he’s working at the Poverello Center, a homeless shelter in Missoula, Montana.
“It’s a population that doesn’t get enough attention, people who live without a safety net and receive a lot of repression and stigma,” he says. Since volunteering with JVC Northwest, Brogan has decided that he is “definitely interested in pursuing this kind of work professionally.”
Working with the mentally ill and homeless can be challenging. But all Jesuit Volunteers have a built-in support network of fellow volunteers—roommates and those placed nearby—who are doing similar work and share their values and their experiences.
“Having people I can talk to about work and process what my day has been like, it’s been a great resource,” Brogan says.
For Tadevich, “it’s an invitation to deepen your reflective life, no matter your faith and to engage with other people constantly. That intimate bonding and support is part of what makes it such a transformative experience.
“I feel that the people I live with and work with will be influential characters in my life for years to come,” she says, ”because we have the ability to bond so intensely.”
The students and graduates who participate in both Global Outreach and JVC “aren’t out to fix the world,” says Francis. But by forming these deep connecting with people and communities, “they learn firsthand about what’s happening in the world, hopefully transform their own lives, and make a real impact locally.”