We are all familiar with the powerful call by Fr. Pedro Arrupe to be ‘men for others’, adopted by many of our Jesuit schools as their institutional mission and expanded in many cases to include the commitment to educate ‘men and women for others’. In our schools around the world rooted in very different contexts and realities we are striving to educate men and women of Conscience, Competence, Compassion and Commitment. To me, the third of those famous 4 Cs – Compassion – is fundamental to the mission of the Society and has always been at the root of Ignatian Pedagogy. After all, Ignatius’ desire initially was to help ‘save souls’.
Our world has of course radically changed since the times of Ignatius. However, our mission to foster compassion in our students remains strong and is arguably more important now than ever before. When we look at the world around us, we must look with compassionate eyes and with an awareness of our joint responsibility to take action against injustice in our society. How are we fostering this sense of solidarity and commitment in our students? And how can we do this in a meaningful way?
Of course, there are many ways in which we can do this (and we would love to hear how you are doing this in your own school or classroom!). The Jesuit Refugee Service have designed a powerful simulation project which helps us to give students an experience of vicariously living the challenges and frustrations experienced by millions of refugees on a daily basis! To awaken that sense of compassion and solidarity with our brothers and sisters and prompt us to take action. This is one project you may wish to implement in your classroom, or indeed with your whole school. It is called “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” and the title in itself reminds us of the importance of putting ourselves in the shoes of others to understand life from their point of view and to really feel the pains, struggles and experiences of our fellow human beings.
Earlier this year we shared videos, photos and stories of some Jesuit schools in Zimbabwe and the US who had implemented this simulation project. We now wish to share with you 3 more experiences of schools implementing this project. We hope this will encourage and inspire you to give your students the opportunity to “walk a mile” in the shoes of refugees. A chance to reflect on what this might be like and consider how we might, albeit in some small way, take action to fight against this injustice.
Have a look at what these schools did:
- Georgetown Prep, Maryland, US
- Gonzaga College High School, Washington, US
- Walsh Jesuit High School, Ohio, US
Implementing this project will also help you to earn a Global Citizenship badge for your school on Educate Magis!
We look forward to hearing your experiences of walking a mile in others’ shoes.