As a sixth-year pupil at St. Aloysius' College, working to become a ‘man and woman for others’, Caritas was an excellent opportunity on my life journey for me to reflect, witness, and learn first-hand about the importance of helping others. Through this award, I’ve been able to volunteer and be involved with aspects of life in both my school and local parish to experience activities I hadn’t before. Outwith the volunteering hours, I have also thoroughly enjoyed my time within the Caritas class as it’s been an opportunity to connect and relate with my peers. The Jesuit motto is very prevalent in Caritas, as we climb to great heights in human achievement, we learn also to be kind, thoughtful, forgiving, and not be self-centered but to help others. Caritas helped me to discover that I’m not alone in my faith journey and there are lots of people around me that support me.
Joining the Caritas class, I discovered ESOL, and the work Kevin was delivering on a continuous basis in my parish. ESOL is a class run by volunteers that teach asylum seekers and refugees about the English language. I did not know what to expect at first but when I entered the hall with my friend Evie, I discovered several groups of enthusiastic people ready to learn. There was then, and still is now lots of laughter and a cheerfulness that never ceases to amaze me. These people come from countries of adversity and tragedy but find hope and happiness in the smallest of places.
The first week I attended was a gloomy October morning and the learning theme was Halloween. One of the teachers, Evie, and I began teaching a small group of students who had little to no English. The students learned about key Halloween traditions in Scotland like a ‘tumshie’ and ‘guising’. The session ended with a drawing competition. Students had to draw a ghost. Several minutes later the class erupted with laughter, when I looked up, I discovered a drawing of a chicken! After explaining to him that he had drawn a chicken and not a ghost the student told us that he had never heard of ghosts before. The experience was extremely eye-opening as I thought everyone knew what ghosts were.
On a personal level, volunteering at ESOL has been a very rewarding and engaging experience. Accompanying people who found themselves in a new country facing the challenges of seeking asylum made me much more aware of their challenges and how we can support those seeking our help. The College Charities committee helped organise donations for Refuweegee, a Glasgow based charity that directly supports asylum seekers and refugees to help them immerse smoothly into our culture and provide them with welcome packs so that they feel included in our communities and country in the hope that one day they can call it home. It was fantastic to see my year raise so much money for not only those attending ESOL but also all the refugees across the City of Glasgow.
- Eilidh B. (S6), Head Girl