During February 2020 vacation, Rachel Rumely, Assistant Head of School (Pre-K – grade 3), had an opportunity to travel to the US-Mexico border to learn about immigration and current immigration policies. As part of a class she is taking through Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development in partnership with the Roche Center for Catholic Education, Ms. Rumely joined 18 other Catholic female educators from the Archdiocese of Boston in El Paso, Texas and Juárez, Mexico for this special “encounter” or “encuentro.”
The course, titled A Catholic Educator’s Response to Immigration, provides students with the opportunity to examine the contexts and realities of global and U.S. immigration through the lens of Catholic tradition and teaching, while also challenging students to critically evaluate their understanding of immigration in light of their roles as educators and administrators in Catholic schools. STCPS parent and Executive Director of the Roche Center Dr. Melodie Wyttenbach teaches the course, along with School of Theology and Ministry graduate student Denise Morris and Lynch School of Education and Human Development graduate student Mariana Lima Becker.
“Given the shifting demographics in our country, now more so than ever our Catholic schools have a responsibility and opportunity to embrace the migrant and understand ways we can improve our services to support linguistically and culturally diverse children and families,” says Dr. Wyttenbach. “As they grow in their understanding and awareness of the history and policies impacting migrant communities, students taking this course are better able to implement culturally sustaining practices in their schools, such as how to walk with families who may be enrolling in a Catholic school in the States for the first time, to how to better celebrate the cultures and religious traditions immigrant families bring with them from their native countries. The Roche Center is really established to create agents of change for our Catholic schools and a course like this forms a community of teachers and leaders committed to being the change, the welcome we wish to see in our schools.”
The group met with a variety of people in the immigration process on both sides of the border, including employees at The Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services of El Paso, border patrol agents, families seeking asylum, representatives from various organizations assisting immigrants, priests and nuns of local parishes, and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso.
"The trip was impactful, demonstrating the realities and challenges our immigrant families face," says Ms. Rumely. "The experience changed my view of the complexity of the issue and I want to bring awareness to our community and new ways to support the immigrant families in our school."
Faith and hope were the cornerstones of this trip. The days began and ended with prayer and Rumely shares that she will continue to pray for the individuals migrating, those who make the policies, immigrants in our community, and all who accompany those in the process.