By Ben Stevinson
The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice can best be described as a two day experience of love, happiness, solidarity, and advocacy. It is a time for prayer, reflection, and awareness. It is very easy to feel the solidarity with the incredible people who travel to this conference.
I attended the Teach-In last year as a senior at Regis Jesuit High School. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of the number of people who hold many of the same core values and beliefs that I do. I was surprised that there were so many people who believed in being men and women with and for others, working in solidarity with the underprivileged to foster a better world. I sat in the front row with my small delegation of around twelve. We were surrounded by a blue sea of Creighton students yelling and shouting ¡Presente! at the top of their lungs. I was shocked by how many people at Creighton had driven over 1,300 miles to get to D.C. I had been interested in Creighton before, but after the Teach-In I knew that all I wanted to do is attend Creighton.
As a Freshman at Creighton University, I greatly value this time at the Teach-In. It is a time for strong prayer and reflection. It is a time for waking up and facing the “gritty reality” of our world. It is a time for waking up to this reality, and realizing that it makes one uncomfortable. At the Teach-In, many injustices and harsh realities are exposed and explained. Attendees learn about some of the most dire issues in the world, and many learn about some issues they had never heard of. The Teach-In began as a direct protest to the School of the Americas, at Ft. Benning, in Georgia, but moved to Washington D.C. last year. While I never attended the Teach-In in Georgia, I feel as though the scope of the Teach-In has varied slightly to encompass many more issues, and, most importantly, allow for lobbying in Congress for the change of many controversial issues, including the SOA. Many people aren’t aware of the SOA’s existence. Many other injustices and topics are discussed at the Teach-In, both locally, and internationally. This year, along with the injustices in Latin American countries, there has been a great focus on the problems in Africa.
While we discuss and learn about many injustices, I believe that the best part of the Teach-In is learning about proactive and positive change. There are many people in our Ignatian Family who have found an issue and taken a strong stance against it. I find it absolutely incredible to listen to and hear people – some high school students, some college students, and some several years out of college – talking about a local issue that they’ve taken a stance on.
We listened to two high school students explain their struggle combatting Malaria in Ghana. They have been distributing mosquito nets, preemptively fixing the problem. It is refreshing and inspiring to me to listen to the concrete and wonderful changes that have happened in the world because of the Ignatian Family. It makes me think of ways I can change my own world, and work locally to combat problems around me. I am blessed to be a part of this family, and I am very humbled to attend the Teach-In a second time.