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By Ciara Beuster
Jul 31st, 2018

In preparation of the Feast of St. Ignatius, we at Educate Magis, decided to use Connected Classrooms to bring together schools from different countries around the world to celebrate together in a fun, innovative and exciting way. We organized two time slots, giving schools from different time zones a chance to participate.

In the days leading up to the video connections we organized short technical checks with each of the schools and as the day itself grew closer, the excitement too was growing. We would have 15 schools participating from South Asia, Asia Pacific, Africa, Latin America and North America.

In the first video connection we were joined by 8 schools from South Asia and Asia Pacific. St. Lawrence’s High School (Kolkata, India), St. Stanislaus High School (Mumbai, India), St. Paul’s High School (Belgaum, India), St. Xavier’s High School Nevta, (Jaipur, India), St. Xavier’s School (Hazaribag, India), Wah Yan College (Kowloon, Hong Kong), Wah Yan College (Wan Chai, Hong Kong) (some students from the two schools in Hong Kong gathered together and joined us from the one classroom) and Colégio Mateus Ricci (Macau). Xavier School San Juan in the Philippines had also planned to join us but unfortunately, due to heavy flooding in Manila, the City Mayor had closed all schools early that morning.

Once we were all connected it was exciting to see the faces of the different students, some of whom were on their lunch break, some of whom had finished their school day and some of whom were joined in the background by their entire teaching staff (Mateus Ricci had interrupted their staff meeting to watch). St. Paul’s High School unfortunately had a power cut just before the connection which meant we could not see the students very well and couldn’t hear them, however the students stayed for the entire session, enjoying the contributions of the other schools and posting their questions and answers in the Connected Classroom chat.

In the second video connection we were joined by seven schools from Africa, Latin America and North America. St. Francis Catholic School (Lagos, Nigeria), Colegio Cristo Rey (Tacna, Perú), Colégio Antonio Vieira (Salvador, Brazil), Unidad Educativa Particular Javier (Guayaquil, Ecuador), Saint Ignatius Loyola Academy (Baltimore, US) and Loyola Blakefield (Baltimore, US) who were joined by some students from Cristo Rey Jesuit (Baltimore, US).

While at that point it was our afternoon at the Educate Magis office, for most of the schools it was their mid-morning. Some of the students had interrupted a service trip to join us and some were already on their summer vacation but came in to school to join this global celebration and some were just back from their summer vacation.

In the days leading up to the virtual connection the students had prepared questions which they would ask St. Ignatius if he was alive and was on the Connected Classroom with us today. On each virtual connection students from different schools took turns asking a question they would ask St. Ignatius and answering as they thought St. Ignatius would answer. The questions ranged from:

  • “St. Ignatius, what is your deepest, darkest secret?”
  • “How did it feel to be rejected by the Franciscans in Jerusalem?” 
  • “Why do you think the Spiritual Exercises are beneficial?”
  • “How should I best share my faith?”
  • “How do you think education will change in the next twenty to thirty years?”

and so many interesting questions in between!

The students enjoyed thinking up answers they felt Ignatius would have shared and it was clear from their questions and answers that they were all familiar with the life of St. Ignatius and although the students were thousands of kilometres apart, some in very different contexts to each other, they were all united through the Spirit of St. Ignatius.

The virtual connections, which took place through Educate Magis’ new tool Connected Classrooms, were facilitated by Ciara (Community Facilitator of Educate Magis) and Fr. Maria Joe Israel, SJ (Educate Magis Volunteer) and organized by the whole Educate Magis team. We recorded both virtual connections and have created a series of videos which we will be sharing with you over the coming weeks.

Today, to mark the Feast of St. Ignatius, we will begin by sharing the heartwarming wishes to the global network of Jesuit schools, which students from the participating schools shared on the virtual connections. 

What really made this experience special were the interactions of the students with each other across different schools and countries and the profound level of listening and sharing of the students.

Here are some of the comments shared by the teachers who accompanied the students:

Students from Colégio Antônio Vieira – Brazil are fascinated by the interaction with other Jesuit Schools. I wish we have more opportunities to be together!! – Ricardo

It was wonderful! my students were so excited, even when the conference was over, they were still talking about it. This was indeed a creative and innovative way to share the Ignatian spirit. Thanks a lot for the whole experience. – Lissette

The students from Loyola Blakefield and Cristo Rey Jesuit in Baltimore had a wonderful time sharing with our brothers and sisters from Nigeria, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and our friends down the street at Saint Ignatius Loyola Academy in Baltimore! It’s a true consolation to see the Ignatian spirit so alive and well in so many different places around the world. – Brian 

Our students were delighted to interact with their Jesuit counterparts in other parts of the world. For them, it was an opportunity to advertise Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School. They desire increased frequency of similar or other interactions, but offline. They want the global network of Jesuit schools to do a lot of exchange programs together. – James

Questions for St. Ignatius was our first experience with Educate Magis and it was wonderful! Our students are very motivated and we´re really looking forward to the next activity! – Orlando

Thank you to all the students, teachers and schools involved in this beautiful global celebration. We are sure that if St. Ignatius were here today he would very much have enjoyed the experience!! We look forward to more global Connected Classrooms soon.

Happy St. Ignatius Day to all Jesuit Schools across the globe!