At Notre Dame Prep, students can study French, Spanish, Latin, and Chinese languages. Yet these classes offer more than lessons in vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar. Studying a new language removes barriers among people as they engage in conversation, ask questions, and learn from each other. And while a second language enables one to conduct business or travel comfortably in a different country, it can also teach important lessons of culture and heritage.
With a commitment to cultural as well as classroom learning, NDP language teachers encourage students to develop knowledge and understanding of how others with differing backgrounds experience the world. These classes strive to examine attitudes towards differences and create an environment where girls find value in diversity in both culture and perspective.
In a perfect example of this effort, Señora Myers’ Spanish 4 classes are diving into hidden issues and biases that affect our society with a project titled “A Wall of Conversation.” They are learning about challenges that are present all around the world—immigration, refugees, gaps in access to technology, and more—all the while having thoughtful conversation with each other, Notre Dame community members, and family and friends.
Some of their reflections are below. Their key takeaway? What you don’t know CAN hurt you!
Through this project, we investigated hidden issues in our American society. We started by watching the movie, El Norte, read Pope Francis’s Encyclical, and are now each investigating our own hidden issue. Going into this project, I had no idea what an effect it would have on me. My whole perspective was changed. By learning about these hidden issues I have gained a curiosity and awareness about my actions and surroundings.
Hannah R. ‘19
Doing this project really affected the way I not only view my life but my perspective on other’s lives, too. Education in these topics helped me to understand the struggles endured by people all over the world, especially in developing countries. I now understand the struggles and discrimination all immigrants face when they are trying to escape the violence of their countries.
Annika M. ‘18
I think that is this project was very eye-opening. It changed my opinions so much and made me even more sensitive to the marginalized in our society. Pope Francis tells us that it is important to keep the dialogue open about the struggles of the oppressed in society. As global citizens, we have to stand in solidarity and respect the lives of those around us.
Astriana E. ’18
During this project, my perspective changed about how I see the different classes in America, and I learned to not take advantage of what I have. I learned new ways to look at the gap between classes and to create a compromise as a solution to narrowing the space between classes and helping those who are less fortunate.
Jenna C. ‘19
My project was about migration and immigration, a topic that shows a division in society. Immigrants are still not ‘welcome’ in the U.S. especially and must work hard for the small amount they receive. Not only are immigrants often from lower classes in the countries they migrate to but are they might be further discriminated against for their appearance or the language they speak.
Caitlynn M. ‘18
For the project that we did in our Spanish class, I did research on computational propaganda and filter bubbles—a state of information isolation that occurs when a
website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see. Prior to doing the project, I knew about of algorithms on sites like Google, but, I didn’t know that they were used to such a large extent. It definitely has made more aware of things like personalized ads on Google and the posts that come up on my explore pages on apps like Instagram and Twitter.
Darby S. ‘19
We noticed that we often focus on our own perspectives but do not pay attention to others. We learned that immigration is not a single story, and each person’s journey is different.
Madeline M. ‘19 and Laurel M. ‘19
My project was on Catholic Social Teachings and controversial issues in society. My perspective changed on things like physician’s assisted suicide when I looked at it from the perspective of the Church. I also looked into how things like these effect immigrants in the U.S. This project helped me change my perspective on how important it is for immigrants to be able to come into America and have the same things available to them as we do.
Katherine F. ‘18
In my project, I learned about the Dunning Kruger Effect–an example of how people overestimate their ability and knowledge. Too often, we only believe what we want to believe and are opposed to listening to new information. This has caused further tension on topics such as immigration, poverty, and other political or social issues. In order to fix this single-minded society, we need to have a dialogue with other people. We must surround ourselves with people from other backgrounds and beliefs so that we can engage in healthy conversation where we listen and ask questions to further our knowledge. Asking questions as opposed to arguing will allow for better understanding of topics that are greater than ourselves.
Mary N. ‘18
The first Catholic Social Teaching is the Dignity of the Human Person. While I always hear about the issues of immigration, especially in today’s news, I have never really thought about the people themselves. After this project, I have a new understanding of these situations. Immigrants just want a home, and to be safe. Every human has dignity and has a right to be respected. In Pope Francis’s Encyclical, we are asked to collaborate with one another and do what we can to be one family and to protect this dignity.
Grace G. ‘18