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Marianist LIFE engages in the Encounters Project

Erica Duarte, Marianist LIFE Coordinator and Liaison for Marianist Schools sends us this update.

Each year, the Marianist LIFE summer program includes sessions dedicated to social justice, often focusing on introducing a handful of critical justice issues to students. LIFErs are challenged to return to their institutions and incorporate elements of social justice in their events, meetings, and activities. This year, LIFE chose to focus on the Encounters Project as the basis for this component of the program.

At all three sessions, LIFE Coordinator and MFEP Coordinating Team member Erica Duarte presented an overview of the history, objectives, and function of the Encounters Project. She challenged students to get comfortable with getting uncomfortable, as they considered their responsibility to go to the margins of their communities and bring awareness and action to their schools and parishes.

After the introduction and overview, students attended various rotations focused on education, poverty, water, and sustainability, all led by coordinating team members and moderators. During each of these rotations, students interacted in discussions and hands-on activities designed to foster critical thinking and thoughtful discussion about each of these vital issues of our time. Students who attended the session on education were fortunate enough to hear from Our Lady of Nazareth alum Maurice Otieno Nyang’oro, who currently works as a pilot in Florida. Our Lady of Nazareth is a Marianist primary school in Mukuru, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Maurice shared about his childhood, the impact of his years at OLN, and the role of education in combating poverty. During two of the three summer programs, Maurice gave his time to present virtually to students and engage in dialogue with them. Students were interested to hear about Maurice’s family, his experience, his current work as a pilot, and how he is giving back to students in Africa. Many thanks to Fr. Martin Solma, SM, Chaplain at LIFE Session I, for his support and leadership in coordinating this effort.

Photos from left to right: 1. Students at Session III learn about the complicated and challenging issue of water access worldwide. 2. Erica Duarte introduces the Encounters Program to all 150 students at three summer programs. 3. Chris Shaver, LIFE Moderator from Chaminade College Prep in St. Louis, leads students in a sustainability session, helping them understand the connection between sustainability and humility.

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Dear Erica, thanks very much for all you have done, are doing, and will do to educate young men and women how to save the planet! I'm very grateful!

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