USA: Doing the Work of JRS in High Schools
22 January 2020
Located in the suburbs of Cleveland, Walsh Jesuit High School has been committed to academic excellence, spiritual growth, and cura personalis: care of the whole person. Students actively live out the school’s mission of building men and women for others by speaking up for the most vulnerable, hosting advocacy events, and building awareness on various social injustices.
In October, the Jesuit Refugee Services Club screened the documentary “Not Just Football” (2018) directed by Paolo Casalis, which follows the story of “Darfur United” players living in a refugee camp in Chad to competing in the Football World Cup. By watching this film, students were able to move past simply hearing about the statistics on the refugee crisis and see the conditions of a refugee camp. After watching the documentary, Walsh Jesuit held a mass in honor of migrants and refugees worldwide, that was well attended by both students and faculty. Following the mass, the students hosted a discussion and reflection session focused on the new perspectives encountered and how each individual can help advocate for refugees in the future.
Natalie Chase, a current senior and longtime member of the Jesuit Refugee Services Club, noted that holding advocacy events may not be providing direct financial or material support, but is “a crucial step in showing solidarity to migrants and refugees” and working to “see migrants as a person, not just a number.” The Jesuit Refugee Services Club was started five years ago and serves as one outlet for students to learn, discuss, and host advocacy projects for the entire school community. The club has previously partnered with JRS/USA in hosting the JRS/USA Walk a Mile in My Shoes Refugee Simulation, with participation from the entire school. The JRS Club holds several advocacy events throughout the school year and will be hosting a simulation of a detention center in April 2020.
In addition to watching “Not Just Football” and hosting a school-wide simulation, the JRS Club writes postcards to refugees through the JRS/USA Any Refugee program by delivering messages of hope and solidarity to refugee children around the world. Through writing these postcards, Natalie stated that it is a “great way to involve other students, does not take a lot of work, and a simple positive message can change a refugee’s outlook on their daily life.” The objective of the JRS Club focuses on issues impacting the dignity of the human person, and as Natalie expressed that although “one student alone cannot do everything, together they can do something.” JRS works with schools, parishes, and communities across the country to advocate on behalf of refugees through these experiences and educational opportunities.
What’s one thing you have done or will do in 2020 to help refugees and other forcibly displaced people heal, learn, and determine their own futures? Need some ideas – check out our campaign page to learn more #Do1Thing.