A Teach-In was created and held at Jesuit for the first time by the directors of Christian Service on November 4.
With increased interest in the D.C. Teach-In and a limited amount of spots, the Christian Service office still wanted to find a way to tap into applicants’ desire to learn and advocate. As a result, Mr. Scott Powers and Ms. Andrea Casey, who oversee the Teach-Ins, created one at Jesuit.
“[Mr. Powers and I] thought: ‘How could we bridge the gap and be in solidarity with the crew that is in DC?’” Ms. Casey said. “And so we wanted to open up the opportunity for more students who wanted to get involved to do so.”
Those from around the community who went to the event at Jesuit listened to live speakers. Reflection followed through dialogue on the talks about immigration and racial justice. The afternoon ultimately led up to watching a livestream from the D.C. Teach-In of Keynote speaker Brian Massingale, who spoke on racial injustice.
Junior Natalie Pernas, participant of the Teach-In, points out how potentially groundbreaking the school-hosted event could be for the community.
“This was the first time a local Teach-In had ever happened, so it was really cool to have everyone come together and learn about issues that are in our state,” Pernas said.
The Saturday event preceded another impactful experience for select Jesuit students. The following Monday, the group of around 20 visited state representatives to advocate for change on certain acts they believed could be reformed. They believed this was an integral part of the Teach-In’s message of advocacy.
“An important part of advocacy is not just learning about it, but also taking action and deciding what you want to do and where your stance is,” senior leader Archita Harathi said.
While students in D.C. took important action in advocating for social justice at the national level, value in working for equality locally should not be understated.
“Instead of with Washington, D.C., which is national, we actually spoke to our local representatives,” junior Grace White, participant of advocacy day, said. “It’s more direct.”
For participants of the Teach-In and advocacy day alike, each person has the opportunity to grow from their experiences.
“I think it will inspire [people] to take action and be part of the discussions that might not always be cohesive, and be part of discussions that affect real-world issues,” Harathi said. “It’s a really good way for students—not only at Jesuit, but all across Portland—to find this atmosphere where you can make a change.”
While days of advocacy in both Portland and D.C. are steps in the right direction, the hope is that this action for justice is not solely limited to those days.
“Our hope is that [the Teach-In] isn’t just a single-day event, but that students will get some ideas and work together and take that momentum from being together,” Ms. Casey said. “We always hope that the education continues and that students will then take this back to the larger community, whether that’s students at other schools, or students here at Jesuit; it’s really largely up to the students to see what happens next.”