Going on trips is always exciting especially if it is somewhere far away and unexplored. That was the case for the Jesuit students going to Washington D.C. to have a blast by not only helping themselves but also by helping others on the trip.
This past week, nineteen Jesuit students from all four grade levels and some staff took a trip to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., which took place from November 2nd through the 6th.
“This is the largest group of students from Jesuit Dallas to attend the conference.“ Mr. Perry said. The main reason they went was to participate in the annual Ignatian Family Teach-In For Justice, which is a yearly gathering of students from Jesuit institutions from all across the country. This event serves to educate and provide the opportunity for advocacy and action. “The Mass and prayer service remembering the Jesuit Martyrs was especially powerful,” Mr. Perry said.
On Friday, November 3rd, the students toured and visited the White House and the many monuments located in D.C. like the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorial. They learned more about space in the Air and Space Museum, more about the history of our country in the Natural History Museum, and went to many other museums on Saturday morning.
“The museums were awesome, and I learned that the original Star-Spangled Banner flag is still there,” according to Luke Maxtone-Graham, a freshman who was one of the nineteen students to go to Washington D.C.
On Saturday afternoon, the conference began. Within the first hours of the meeting, they introduced Catholic Social Teaching terms and Social Justice issues. The goal for the students was to continue to improve on empathy, the topic thoroughly explored in many of our prayer services and I-days. The problem of inequality is no laughing matter, and it needs to be fixed, and with empathy, it makes it much easier.
“It was really cool to go to the conference, as it really opened up my mind to new opinions and experiences,” said Luke Maxtone-Graham, “it also opened my mind up that there are actually people who struggle with their daily day-to-day lives.”
The faculty encouraged the students to take a chance on walking with and “feeling with” another person either through casual encounters like those in the mall or more formal encounters listening to speakers. The staff was impressed by how the students reacted to opening their hearts to empathy with the people they met.
Students also made bonds with our brother school in Guadalajara, Mexico which is hosting some of our students over the Thanksgiving break. Mr. Dion, a theology teacher here at Jesuit, said that his favorite part of the trip was being with other people and being present with the boys grow in relationships with others. The conference lasted the whole weekend was a moving experience for both the students and the staff.
“I was proud of our students being the only group to serve as hosts for a school from abroad. We partnered with our school in Guadalajara, Mexico and made certain that they were plugged into the seminars and activities,” Mr. Perry said.
On Monday, the students participated in “Advocacy Day,” a day during which the various schools visit senators and congressmen or their staff to engage them in dialogue about a particular issue. They chose to speak with Congressman Sessions and Senator Cornyn about DACA in particular.
“DACA gives young undocumented immigrants: 1) protection from deportation, and 2) a work permit,” according to the University of California in Berkley. President Trump has ended the DACA program. Now undocumented citizens are not allowed to get jobs and risk getting deported from their only home and losing their families.
Before the meeting with the congressmen, the students researched and created a presentation and talking points on a comprehensive immigration strategy that is grounded in our call to respect human dignity.
“A highlight for this year included our meeting with Congressman Sessions and Senator Cornyn. Our students presented proposals for comprehensive immigration reform,” Mr. Perry added.
“It was an honor to sit with the congressmen,” Mr. Dion said.
All the Jesuit students and staff experienced something different that is outside their usual daily lives; the trip helped them grow in their faith, understand situations, and advocate for others.