From July 9-July 13, educators from Lasallian high schools, universities, and the Brother David Darst Center participated in the Lasallian Social Justice Institute (LSJI), a Regional formation program, with sessions at San Miguel High School in Tucson, AZ. This year, educators expanded their knowledge and ability to serve the poor by putting themselves in the shoes of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Participants visited a Border Patrol station, listened to a local rancher and federal public defender, and attended the federal court hearings that are part of Operation Streamline, in which as many as 70 undocumented people are tried at one time. They participated in a desert cleanup, hiked a migrant trail, and visited a memorial site. Participants also went to the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Sonora, which serves two meals daily to deported migrants, provides shelter and support services to women and children, and performs first aid.
“Touristy trips have lost their appeal,” said one participant. “This was just a glimpse, but it was truly a horrifying experience, and we have to start work on this.”
The purpose of LSJI is to raise awareness of social justice issues in the United States or world. LSJI always includes relational experiences, study, and community with fellow Lasallian educators. Its purpose is to ground participants in the Catholic Church’s teachings on social justice and in the Lasallian mission of serving the poor.
This year, 19 participants traveled to Tucson from New York, Rhode Island, Baltimore, Chicago, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Pittsburgh. The Institute concluded with discussions of how to communicate each person’s experience back to his or her home school or ministry.
“I can’t stay silent about what I’ve seen this week,” said a participant. The task of communicating is daunting, though: another participant said, “You can’t comprehend it all unless you come here.”
This year’s program was based on San Miguel’s El Otro Lado student program, which occurs throughout the school year. Over the 2012-2013 school year, eleven different El Otro Lado trips will take place.
Submitted by Laura Stine, Development Coordinator at San Miguel High School, Tucson, AZ