This year I am teaching a new course at St. Xavier High School called Global Perspectives. Intended as a foundational course for students pursuing the Ignatian Global Scholar Certificate, the course uses literature to examine global issues and is organized around UAP-themed units. Last month, for our Walking with the Excluded unit, we read Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone, a memoir about a child soldier in Sierra Leone’s civil war. We investigated the various reasons why some children do not have access to quality education and how organizations like Fe y Alegría work to provide this fundamental human right to the world’s youth.
Magis Americas’ La Silla Roja project fit perfectly with our unit, and when I introduced the project to the class, students responded with enthusiasm. In fact, they even generated some of their own ideas to augment the project. In addition to painting a red chair to represent the 260 million students who are currently out of school, my students suggested that we place red tape across 29% of the desks in the school’s classrooms to represent the percentage of children worldwide who do not complete secondary school. They also invited 29% of the student body to wear red shirts on a designated day, and then we arranged to deliver an education-themed Examen during homeroom. In the implementation of the project, I served as consultant while my students put their varied and abundant talents to good use: several students did research, two students met with the principal, two more made posters for the display in the main stairwell, one found and painted the red chair, two composed the Examen, and one read the Examen to the school community.
My students beamed with pride as they overheard their peers asking about the taped desks and red shirts. Then they started brainstorming project ideas for Caring for Our Common Home. I can’t wait to see what they do next.