The Five Pillars of ABE

Participants, Co-Leaders, and Advisors apply the 5 Pillars of ABE as a framework to guide their trip experience. By embracing these pillars, our participants grow in values-based leadership and develop an integrated global vision. Derived from our Catholic and Benedictine heritage, the concepts of Social Justice, Community, Reflection, Learning, and Intentional Living merge, offering participants an experience to inspire their lives.

Social Justice

It is not enough to simply do good works.  For example, if someone is hungry, we need to feed them.  We also need to ask why the person is hungry and seek to change the social systems that create such situations in the first place.  We are called to create social conditions that enable all people to achieve their full potential.  We explore justice by looking at the issues that affect the people in the host community, helping us to understand the interconnection between personal and societal responsibility.  With this comes the realization that social justice isn't just something we practice on our ABE trips - it becomes a manner in which we live our lives.


 "I leaned that in some communities, justice isn't always prevalent. It is other people's job to listen to them and see where they seek help."  - 2018 Participant


Rooted in the Benedictine tradition, community reinforces the concept of solidarity.  In an increasingly interconnected world, we are all part of one human family despite national, racial, religious, economic, and ideological differences.  Community respects the value of the individual while affirming the common good.  There are many communities involved in ABE trips: the group of participants, the host community, the CSB/SJU community, the Benedictines, and beyond.  Participants are not simply individuals who experience ABE trips on their own, but rather they are a community that is there to support and challenge each other throughout the experience.  By participating in ABE, the group and host community mutually benefit from the presence of each other. 

" I was shown more love and acceptance by [the Friends of Chimbote] community than I have ever felt motivated me to pass along this love and build a stronger community at CSBSJU." - 2018 Participant



"Listen with the ear of your heart" is one of our core Benedictine values at CSB/SJU.  We strive to listen in a reflective manner in order to hear the voices of all creation with compassion and reverence.  We listen in order to more acutely participate in our ABE experiences.  It is through reflection that we make meaning out of these experiences, and we find reflection is as important as the mutual service itself.  Through reflection, we hope participants can integrate their immersion experiences with the rest of their lives.  Each evening, the group comes together and reflects on the day's experiences. Many participants find this to be the most rewarding and insightful part of the week. 


"Reflection on daily activities will be integrated into my lifestyle. This will allow me to live each day in the moment and process all aspects of life."  - 2018 Participant 


Intellectual growth is not confined to the classroom.  Through experiential learning, our young men and women are endowed with a wisdom that increases their awareness of the "invisible realities" faced by others in our national and global community.  In addition, we are made aware that many nations that are poorer in material goods are richer in wisdom: a wisdom that surpasses the world of "mere things."  This experiential learning enhances the classroom experience as participants connect the "real world" with the "academic world."

"I am so lucky to have had this experience because it was truly amazing to meet all the kids in the community and learn about a culture I knew nothing about."  - 2018 Participant

Intentional Living

 Through our experiences, we find that we can't always change the situations we see, but we can change ourselves and live our lives in a way that carries out our experience.  Every decision we make and every dollar we spend is a vote for the kind of world in which we would like to live.  As we reflect on our experience, we ask, "How do my decisions directly or indirectly affect the people we encounter during our ABE trip?"  In thinking about this, we are more deliberate in making daily life choices, which continues the trip far beyond the short week.  In this way, we incorporate our experiences into a lifestyle of change.


"The community of participants will be "bringing the world experience" home with them to reflect upon and look for pathways to engage justice in our future endeavors."  - 2018 Participant