Santa Clara University


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Alum of the Week


Joyana Jacoby Dvorak

Service Immersion Coordinator at DePaul University

At Marquette I studied Sociology and Theology. I naively was hoping to understand the systems of our society through Sociology and then apply Theology to fix them. For years I had been learning about poverty and injustice from textbooks. I was tired of reading about it. I was ready to awaken to the world and the cries for justice, to breathe it, taste it, see it, smell it, live it fully.

Casa de la Solidaridad was an opportunity to dive in, to entregarse. Concepts soon had names, faces, and stories of people who welcomed me with radical hospitality. In El Salvador, I learned to listen exquisitely to another way of being. I was knocked off my pedestal as I witnessed grassroots organizing, the power of community, and a faith in action that continues to motivate me.

At the heart, I learned to let those among us living in poverty lead my next steps. After college I spent a few years in Leon, Guanajuato Mexico with the Good Shepherd Volunteers. I humbly walked with girls in a boarding school who taught me the importance of peacemaking. I accompanied women in a sewing cooperative and learned what it means to be a woman, mother, sister, friend in our world. I came back from Mexico with a mission to “luchar por y con ustedes desde el otro lado” – to fight for and with those I loved from the other side. I moved to Chicago and advocated with the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform at the Chicago Archdiocese Peace and Justice Office.

Now, over 10 years later, I am still connected to the Salvadoran community as the Coordinator of the DePaul Service Immersion Program. I have the privilege to accompany students to El Salvador, Colombia, and many domestic places as their hearts are broken open for the first time and as they discover their own brokenness.

Central to my work is continuing to build long-term relationships with the partners who invite us to their reality for a short time. I completed my Masters in Non-Profit Management at DePaul and used this research opportunity to invite the partners’ voices to the table. As an adjunct faculty in the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies program at DePaul I dive deeper with students into understandings of social justice and our responsibility to build the kingdom of God together. Dvoraks1

Through the life shaping experience in El Salvador I came face to face with a reality that continues to shape my vocation. My husband knows that my first true love was El Salvador and our brothers and sisters living in poverty. Now as we begin our journey as parents, I pray our son Theodore will be as blessed as I am to have a root system of friends working together to build another world that we believe is possible! By joining the Casa program you will be invited to this friendship and invited to belong to a family who will walk with you every step of your journey.

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