In the Spanish province the NGO ALBOAN is coordinating CHANGE, an educative project developed by JRS Europe to raise awareness among secondary education students on the situation of migrants and refugees. In this opportunity ALBOAN shares with us the experience of San Ignacio School in San Sebastián, Spain, through this interview to Michael Pastor SJ, a philosophy teacher in the school, after having implemented the CHANGE project.
During last years Michael has lived with migrants in his jesuit community and this might be the reason why he joined CHANGE without hesitation. He is member of the pastoral team and he likes conducting his classes with significant methodologies that offer students the possibility to learn to live and apply classroom knowledge to transform their environment based on their wishes to make a better world.
Here is the Interview:
ALBOAN: Michael, why did you decide to apply CHANGE in the school?
MICHAEL: We had been working with an interdisciplinary project for around 10 years. During the second term we worked on the interculturality from the approach to the process and reality of migration in our environment. But it seemed that the project was running out of steam and then CHANGE appeared as it had been listening to us and we thought it could be a great alternative.
ALBOAN: From ALBOAN we always explain that CHANGE is a flexible project and teachers can apply it at different levels. Could you tell us how you have applied at San Ignacio school?
MICHAEL: The first thing that Inés Vicente, CHANGE’s coordinator in ALBOAN, made us realize it was that we did not need to apply the full itinerary and we might select some of the stages and steps that matched our objectives. To tell the truth, the itinerary is very good and it was difficult for us to decide what to skip.
We made a team with philosophy and religion teachers, and tutors to implement the project. Before Christmas tutors were in charge of registering the groups and conducting the general sessions and then we, the philosophy teachers, applied the first and second stages linked to content of anthropology and culture. After Christmas we continued with stages 3 and 4 and ALBOAN helped us with the encounter with migrants and refugees. Stage 5 was very interesting to continue linking the project with the philosophy subject, making us aware of the strategies we need to implement in our daily lives to avoid prejudices about migration.
At the end we only could start with stage 6 and make a creative work. What actions could we develop to change something in our environment after all we had been working on, thinking about, looking at and listening to? We left for the following term the last step of making it real but due to the lockdown we had to leave it. At the end of the school year we had the opportunity again to offer the students the possibility to participate in a final assignment and become ambassadors. Three of them organized a food drive to help a shelter for migrants and refugees. This group was surprised by the good answer of their district’s parishioners.
ALBOAN: After applying CHANGE during this school year, could you share with us what you value the most about the project?
MICHAEL: CHANGE’s platform is very helpful both for teachers and students. It is very useful. It allowed us to teach anthropology and culture in a practical way. Even if the step to take action was a bit limited at the end we could implement a beautiful project with very interesting and useful things.
ALBOAN: Are you considering implementing CHANGE again during the next school year?
MICHAEL: Right now we are evaluating and we are thinking about different ways to improve it and proposals for next year. We would like that students arrive to stage 6 and become ambassadors for refugees. During the last ALBOAN’s educational session, Edukalboan, the Sacred Heart School from Pamplona shared their experience which showed how students had impact on their environment and it was very inspiring.
ALBOAN: Why would you encourage other teacher to implement CHANGE?
MICHAEL: Because it allows you to have a practical, team-based and applied approach to a reality that has come to stay (migration). And students are slowly introduced to the topic until they become ambassadors. It also allows you to develop your subject’s content.
CHANGE is an educative project coordinated by JRS Europe that promotes critical thinking, empathy and participation of secondary school students regarding the situation of migrants and refugees. JRS national offices and other jesuit NGOs in nine european countries are responsible to accompany schools in the implementation of the project. If you have any questions please leve them in the comment box below. To see all CHANGE Materials please follow this link