On Tuesday, March 8th, 16 of the 20 CSPJ schools met with delegations of students, teachers, campus ministers and others to learn about issues regarding Modern Slavery and Migration at St. Joseph Academy on Cleveland's West side. They heard speakers from the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, the Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America and Colombia and Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services run by the Diocese of Cleveland.
Students began arriving at St. Joe's at 8:45am and met in their auditorium. They came from as far away as Akron and Lake County and listened to dynamic speakers on the subject in order to learn how they can better work towards raising awareness and discover what they can do at their home schools to help fix the problems. The Mini-Summit is the first step towars having a major summit for all students next year on Migration.
The day began with the CSPJ delegations hearing about Ohio's pivotal role in trying to end human trafficking from Sr. Anne Victory H.M. They learned about the many ways in which people can be trafficked; how it truly is slavery and some of the things to watch for. Students and adults alike also participated in an activity to learn how they are complicit in many of these activities unknowingly just from the products they use and buy. The web site slaveryfootprint.org asks a series of 11 of questions and shows how many people are "slaves" to those who buy these things.
They next heard from Chrissy Stonebreaker-Martinez from IRTF about economic slavery and how many people in poor countries are forced to take lower wages for work in order to provide many things that Americans take for granted. She also spoke about how important it is to source where products come from in order to make sure that the people who created it was making a fair wage.
The last speaker was after lunch. A representative from Catholic Charities' Refugee and Migration Services discussed the work they do in placing those from other countries around the Cleveland area. She first analyzed what a refugee is and gave the students a picture of what refugees are like when they first come to a new country. Tired, scared, nervous and often overwhelmed. They have no say in where they are placed and have no idea of what life is like here in the United States.
After hearing about the work that is done to help immigrants and refugees here in Cleveland, the CSPJ groups heard from Cleveland Central Catholic sophomore, Tatu Wadesisi, herself a refugee and immigrant. She talked about her experience coming over from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a refugee camp in Mozambique. She also spent time discussing what her life was like here in the USA. Students learned that some in the refugee camp thought that in America there was no dirt and that there were buildings that reached the clouds.
The final part of the day was spent hearing from the student leadership group that is running a dance fundraiser, "Rock for Refugees," on April 22nd at St. Joseph Academy. All students from CSPJ schools are welcome and the money will go towards helping refugees around the world.
Any student there was also given a chance to come forward and talk about what they do at their own schools for social justice. Many students and teachers wrote down ideas from these short presentations so that they could bring them back to their own schools.
The Major Summit on Migration will be held during next school year.