As I was thinking of my next blog post, I wondered what information might be most worth sharing, or even exploring together?  Should we dive deeper into each of the 10 items we thought were worth considering when starting an exchange?  Would taking a much closer look at the tedious, yet incredibly important details that go into planning a program be useful for schools just getting started?  Perhaps we could begin to explore ways multiple schools could work together to maximize our reach and impact on students throughout the Jesuit network – the possibilities there would be endless! 

Dan TanzaniaAs I considered which direction to go in, I came into work to find a letter on my chair from a graduating senior at BC High.  This young man had participated in Hyde Center trips to both India and Tanzania, and he recently hosted two students from Zimbabwe – all experiences he never dreamed would have been possible.  In part, the letter reads…

“Thank you for taking a chance on me. I never thought I would have such an opportunity to travel the world.  Both Tanzania and India opened my eyes to a completely different world.  These trips have influenced what I want to study and pursue as a career in the future.  There rarely is a day that goes by where I do not think about the trips I have taken.  I have more than 100 stories for my children and grandchildren!”

His letter got me thinking – why were these experiences not only possible, but so incredibly influential in this young man’s life?  Does the Hyde Center deserve “the credit”?  We’re a nice vehicle, but the credit is not ours to take.  There are many answers of course – some that are obvious, and some that can only be found through deep, reflective conversation.  But there is one answer that falls in between…

Jesuit schools.

AMDG2There is nothing more rewarding and comforting than to travel half a world away; to a culture and country completely different from your own, and to walk into a school and be greeted by St. Ignatius…or by AMDG on the wall…or by a picture of Fr. General Adolfo Nicolas. There is a beautiful familiarity with the vibe that echoes throughout a Jesuit school – a vibe that somehow indicates we’re all in this together, a vibe that manages to make a total stranger feel like they just walked into a home away from home.  There is palpable comfort in knowing you are immediately grounded by the universal mission of the Society of Jesus…by our universal Jesuit family.  

Our students sense it too.   One of the most frequent comments we hear when they return from trips is how amazing it was to be at another Jesuit school…not necessarily another country, or a new city…but at a Jesuit school.  There’s a visible sense of pride that they are part of a bigger picture; that they belong to something, belong somewhere; that is not restricted by boundaries and boarders.  This is a remarkable awakening for an adolescent that is made possible by the commitment of the Jesuits to prioritize education.

So, while there are certainly endless amounts of amazing schools out there to choose from, our experiences have told us to stay Jesuit.  The letter now sitting on my desk never mentioned the word Jesuit – it didn’t need to – it was written all over the note.

Dan Carmody is Executive Director at the Hyde Center for Global Education at Boston College High School and Global Initiatives Assistant for the Secretariat for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education of the Society of Jesus

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