One of the biggest compliments I have received working at Immaculate Conception School in downtown Los Angeles is how I am exposing these students to social justice issues. Expanding on my Salesian and Jesuit roots, I pass down what I have learned to the 6th graders in my religion class.
So far, I have had the privilege to take theses 28 sixth graders to Homeboy Industries to support the runners of the Homeboy 5k and, recently, had them walk in support to end human trafficking in a Walk for Freedom.
While teaching them about human rights, one student so keenly asked me, “If every human has human rights, why are these things like human trafficking still happening?” That is the questions we all have! To have a 12 year-old wide-eyed student so bothered by these injustices, it gives me hope for the future. Attending the Walk for Freedom really helped them learn there is always something for them to do for those in need. These students were not only chanting, but leading the large group saying, “We are not for sale!” Becoming an example of who is being sold around the world, and in our own backyard, really made the entire event full of passion.
These are great opportunities that I never received when I was a kid, and I hope this early exposure really points them in the right direction to do some good in the world, and stand firm in their beliefs.
That is what I want to teach my students: One, if they have a cause that they really firmly believe in, to educate themselves in all that there is to know. They should research and understand where an issue originated from, and what they can do to make it better. Two, through this education, they will always stand their ground and know what the next step is for them to make the world a better place, one person at a time.
Through teaching religion and catechism classes, I see their general love and care for the people around the neighborhood they are growing up in. Living in Pico Union, a low socio-economic area, these students see many homeless people. They see the gang violence. They live with parents who are barely making enough money to support them, and still making the sacrifice to send them to a private Catholic school. There are so many issues in their environment that they experience, and see where they can make a difference. Whether it’s holding a blanket drive for the homeless, or taking a trip to the local convalescent center, these students at Immaculate Conception are learning to be involved, caring citizens of Los Angeles. I am just there to lead them in the right direction, and I am loving every minute of being a St. Joseph Worker!
-Monica Rosales, St. Joseph Worker