This year, the O’Dowd delegation heard from keynote speakers such as Bishop George Murry, S.J., Dr. Nichole Flores, a theologian at the University of Virginia, and the Peace Poets Artist Collective. The breakout sessions included panels on mass incarceration, gun violence, migration, racial justice and climate justice.
On Monday, O’Dowd’s 14 student delegates, along with chaperones Religion teacher and Retreat Coordinator Michael Downs, Director of Service Learning Beth Stewart and Religion teacher Laura Witter, split into three groups to lobby for immigration reform and criminal justice reform to their respective Congresspeople Barbara Lee and Eric Swalwell, and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Despite the rain that poured on the group that soaked their professional outfits, everyone kept a positive attitude and spoke eloquently at their meetings.
Overall, O’Dowd student delegates were thrilled to be a part of IFTJ 2018. A few shared some of their own reflections.
Colm Connolly ’18 noted, “This weekend, my heart was broken by the plight of women in today’s society. I hope that as a man, I can be a part of the solution to these woes by continuing to learn about the female perspective and by holding my fellow men accountable to the things they say [and do].”
Emma Flood ’18 said she was inspired by the IFTJ trip. “It truly opened my heart to be in a space with so many people that had the same passion for social justice as I do and to hear how they have worked hard to reach out and make changes. It can be hard to come across people that actually go out of their way to make a difference, so to be in a room with 2,000 of those people gave me hope for the future. My heart broke when I realized that not everyone has the same opportunities as I do, such as attending a conference like IFTJ. So, many people are left uninformed about huge issues in their communities and the world. It breaks my heart to know that there are people who believe their voice doesn’t matter or make an impact, because this trip only reassured me that our voices are what begin the processes of change and growth in the world.”
Icing on the cake for the group? They encountered several O’Dowd alumni over the course of the weekend. Jenay Hatchell ’18 and Adeya Wyatt ’18, current Howard University students who attended IFTJ last year, joined the group for dinner and a monuments tour Friday night. And Ruby Perez ’18 traveled with a delegation from University of Michigan to the conference. Finally, the pilot on the flight home was Bjorn Anderson ‘96, who gave a shout-out to the students and several O’Dowd alumni who were also aboard the plane, and gave them high-fives and invited them into the cockpit to take photos when they deplaned. Anderson was a member of CMT and often speaks at O’Dowd’s Career Day.
Are you sad that you missed the Ignatian Family Teach-In 2018? Watch the recording here. If you want to apply for next year, see Ms. Beth Stewart in Service Learning. Morever, be sure to save the date for the 4th annual Bay Area Social Justice Teach-In at O’Dowd on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Solidarity in Action hosts this event, which will include speakers (some who are O’Dowd alums!) who work for social justice locally in the Bay Area.