Aoife Finan (Apollo) and Lisa Smith (Athena), both pictured below, write:
My name is Aoife Finan and I attended the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Seminar on the 9th and 10th of October this year. I went to the seminar with my fellow student, Lisa Smith, to represent our school. The seminar was held in the Emmaus Centre in Swords, Co Dublin. This centre is extremely modern and nicely decorated with hotel-standard accommodation and delicious food. I really enjoyed my two peaceful days there.
This seminar was held for students and teachers from Loreto primary and secondary schools around the country. JPIC endeavours to raise social awareness and to empower students and teachers in their roles as agents of social change in the world. At the seminar we listened to talks from various charities like Trócaire and Self Help Africa and discussed our plans for raising awareness this year. We were joined at the seminar by many Loreto schools, such as Kilkenny, Fermoy and Stephen’s Green.
When we arrived at the seminar we were welcomed by Blathnaidh Colhoun – a former Loreto principal. She assured us that we would enjoy and benefit from the two days and she was right! Shortly after, we had a presentation from the director of Trócaire, Justin Kilcullen. He described to us how he began to have an interest in social change in the world. He was inspired by his uncle, who had arrived home from Africa after working there for many months. He decided he would follow his dreams and he started work with Trócaire. He asked us to question our stereotypical views of life in developing countries and to ask ourselves who we could aspire to be like in our lives.
After lunch, we participated in a workshop with Sharon Murray who works for Young Social Innovators. Sharon taught us useful teamwork skills and how much we can achieve if we work successfully together. After Sharon’s workshop we had a visit from Sr. Louise O’Sullivan who is involved with Loreto International. She described to us the work carried out by Loreto sisters all over the world, encouraging gender equality and educating women. It was unbelievable to see how big the Loreto network is all around the world. After a really interesting and thought-provoking day we were brought to a reflection mass and served tea, coffee and biscuits before going to bed brimming with ideas.
I think the best presentation of the two days was given by Patsy Toland from Self Help Africa. He really opened our eyes to the bigger picture of international companies around the world who often use cheap labour and resources to their advantage. He described how some multinational companies threaten human rights while employing their workers. He showed us how we can make a difference in the world by maybe making a personal sacrifice like choosing Fair Trade chocolate over more expensive, luxurious chocolate that may not use Fair Trade at all. I thought his presentation was the most interesting of them all and one of the highlights of the two-day seminar.

Hi, I’m Lisa Smith (TY) and I went with Aoife to the JPIC seminar. I was grateful to have been given the opportunity to listen to all the guest speakers and, as a result, I have become much more aware of the importance of our roles as JPIC ambassadors in the school. The one guest speaker that really inspired me was Sr. Louise O’Sullivan who spoke to us about the work of the Loreto sisters, particularly their work in India and Africa.
She showed us a video about the time she spent visiting the various sisters, but the thing that grabbed my attention the most was what she told us about how women are treated in these countries. She played us songs where the lyrics best described the mistreatment and the trafficking of women, the songs helped us sympathise with the women and helped us understand the dangers they face. She told us about the different kinds of work carried out by the Loreto sisters all across the globe. It turns out that one of the sisters, Sr. Anne-Mary Murphy, who is currently working to establish a school in Rumbek in Africa worked as an art teacher in our school several years ago.
On the second day of the seminar, we sat with Ms. Kelly and discussed our plan of action for the year. We decided on building awareness campaigns around World AIDS Day and International Women’s Day.
For World AIDS Day (1 December, 2012) we hope to get the Transition Year students to make a short film about AIDS, which will be shown in all religion classes during the week leading up to WAD. We also plan to get the school community to wear something red for our Seeing Red Day (teachers included!).
For International Women’s Day (8 March, 2013) we plan to have a book collection to help with women’s education in Global South countries, we also hope that the person that brings in the most books will be in with a chance to win a fantastic prize. We also hope to get people to dress up as their female heroines for our We Could Be Heroes (Just for One Day) Day!
There will be lots of other mini events happening and we will keep you posted as to what you can look forward to. If you would like to get involved, be sure to stop us in the corridor or talk to Ms. Kelly.


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