“Are there any BIG things that kids can do to help?”
This was one of the questions that Catherine G. from Ms. Busick’s class asked in her reflection after visiting “Forced From Home,” an interactive exhibit put on by Doctors Without Borders at Pioneer Courthouse Square from October 16-22. Ms. Busick’s class is spending the year digging deeply into the experience of refugees, both abroad and locally. They will share their knowledge and experiences with the Lower School community in advance of Giving Chapel, as they act as “information ambassadors” for Refugee Care Collective, one of our Giving Chapel participating agencies.
The “Forced From Home” exhibit highlights the plight of refugees around the world. As Catherine describes, “On our field trip we experienced the life and feelings of an immigrant/refugee. We visited stations that showed the steps of a lot of the things that they would have to go through. We got a new identity, and were forced to leave our homes, and venture out on a boat. There were so many things that I wanted to take with me, but I was limited to only five items. I chose water, my passport, some money, medicine, and a phone.” However, along the way, participants were made to give up items they had chosen to bring, to pay for the water crossing, for example, and ended up with one single item. The tour also included visits to medical tents and make-shift housing typical of refugee camps around the world. The tours are led by Doctors Without Borders aid workers, who share direct knowledge of what it is like in the field.
Catherine continues, “One thing that really stood out to me was how many people were going through this. I was really upset knowing that the numbers were still so huge even though so many people are helping.”
Catherine’s questions and comments struck me as such a great encapsulation of the work of Service Learning at OES. Through Service Learning, we hope to build in our students a capacity to understand an issue but then also the agency to act. The Service Learning cycle takes students through information gathering, planning, action, and reflection. Even though after gathering information Catherine recognizes the enormity of the issue, she is motivated and empowered to act, in small and big ways, on behalf of issues that are in her heart. We want students to understand that even as youth they have the power to make a difference. “Are there any BIG things that kids can do?” she wonders. Our tour guide, a vaccination specialist who had just returned from South Sudan, told us the best ways we can help is to stay informed, act locally, support local organizations doing this work, and spread the word. Catherine, like so many of her peers who experienced Forced From Home on Monday, are ready to go about that work. I am excited to see how they choose to spread their passions to others in our community.
The class is included in the background of this KGW news story about “Forced From Home.” KGW Forced From Home
Consider visiting the “Forced From Home” exhibit for yourself, now through October 22. Doctors Without Borders Forced From Home Portland