Our school in Dublin, St. Raphaela’s Secondary School, has joined the JRS Europe program CHANGE. With the level 4 class we are nearing the end of the 6 sessions of 45 minutes each, scheduled by this program.

Its objective is:

Knowledge, experiences, encounters and new views. CHANGE builds a society in which everyone is welcome and can participate. Together we all have a role to play.

We know that when people have the opportunity to meet one another, real CHANGE can happen. It is for this reason that CHANGE tries to foster meaningful connections between refugees and young people. The students can improve their critical thinking and form their own opinions about topics such as migration and society by means of an educational program in 6 stages facilitated by their teachers.

This week we had the fourth session. We listened to the witness of a former student in our school, a refugee from Syria, who has been in Ireland with her family since 2015. She is studying science in a university, but she wants to change her major to medicine. There was silence in the classroom while our alumna told us: “Living in the midst of war and losing friends is no fun… in the first school that I attended when I came here I suffered, truly, bullying…. Our family has been fortunate… the parish priest came to visit us and told us that he wanted to help us…. It is not merely a question of money but of having some community support. We were alone… We don’t need to have blood ties to be able to be close. Today I am more sure of myself, and more open to change. More flexible. Working in a supermarket has helped me to integrate into Irish culture. I want to contribute to the society where I am living now. We have lived until recently thanks to your taxes. My parents, my sisters and I want to do the same. You have no idea how lucky you are…you have no idea.” Smiling and looking at the class, she ended with this sentence. “Work hard and be thankful.” Three seconds later, loud applause could be heard even in the corridors.

We have only two sessions left but the material that JRS has put together is so good that it we can use it for even more. Our sessions are for one hour instead of the 45 minutes scheduled, and the time flies without our realizing it because of the interest they awaken.

It is worthwhile to visit their website and consider taking the risk of proposing it to the young people that we accompany. All the material can be found in nine languages at https://www.jrschange.org/

Irene Guía, aci