December 2013


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Merry Christmas, No Matter Where You Are

What do college, Big Macs, freight trains, and the beach have in common?  Immigration!   On November’s Peace & Justice Lab we spent two days looking at this issue.  But how do we explain a big issue in human terms?  How do we empathize with those who are searching for a place to call home?

We gathered early Thursday morning to begin our annual overnight lab:  Destination - San Diego!  Our first stop was a college tour at the University of San Diego, a college that is much like the Peace & Justice Academy at the next level.  They have classes that have hands-on labs that resemble our Peace & Justice Labs.  Many of our students felt they could see themselves there in the future.

The University is also home to the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.  If the name sounds familiar, it is because Joan and her husband, Ray, started McDonalds.  She endowed the institute here and at Notre Dame.  The students learned about their work with immigration reform, about the Youth Summits they hold, and their masters program in Peace Studies. 

We were invited back to a screening in the evening of Which Way Home, a documentary film about the journey of unaccompanied minors (some as young as 8 years old) from Central America, through Mexico, to the United States.  This harrowing journey is mostly accomplished by riding atop freight trains!  It is filled with danger and the students were visibly moved to see kids their age traveling thousands of miles to create a new life.  Over 100,000 children have done this in the past several years.  Watch the trailer or view it on Netflix to see the power of this movie.

The second day was filled with an experiential journey.  We began the morning at Chicano Park in San Diego.  This park was fought for by the community as a center of neighborhood pride.  Located under and around the bridge entrance to Coronado Island, the community has converted the concrete pillars into amazing, dramatic murals that represent the histories of the indigenous peoples and the current Chicano residents of the area. 

With the cultural history prominently in our minds, we headed to Border Field State Park.  This California State Park sits on the Pacific Ocean.  With the magnificent blue ocean on our right and an unoccupied beach on the left, we walked up to the end of the looming border wall; it’s the beginning of a 14-mile long, doubled barrier between the towns of Tijuana and San Ysidro.

For many of our students, it was the first time to see another country.  They were surprised that the Border Patrol was watching them by vehicle and helicopter.  They also were wishing they could go up to the fence and talk to the people standing on the other side, but they couldn't cross the 50 foot zone between the actual border fence and the security fence.

We wrapped up our exploration with our guide, Ben, from the American Friends Service Committee office in San Diego.  The students had many things that had impacted them over these 2 days of learning!

End of Year Giving

Would you consider giving to support the wonderful things we do?  Our students and those we meet are continually inspired!  Many folks have referred to the school as a sign of hope.  Please consider an investment in hope for peace on earth this coming year.  We are still trying to reach $50,000 by the end 2013, and currently have a $2000 matching grant we would like to take advantage of.  Please partner with us today by CLICKING HERE!



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The Peace Justice Academy · 2033 E. Washington Blvd. · Pasadena, CA 91104 · USA

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