Last month, a contingent of Regians represented the United States in the inaugural Jesuit Global Activism Leadership Summit. Students Preston Ferraiuolo ’22, David Ordonez ’22, and Hugh Kane ’23, alongside Theology Department Chair Ms. Maura Toomb Estevez, joined with 18 other Jesuit schools around the world to discuss contemporary issues facing societies today and envision solutions to the injustices faced by our global community.
Sponsored by St. Louis University High School in St. Louis, Missouri, the three-day summit was created in the Jesuit spirit of being called to the frontiers to live among and serve our neighbors near and far. Eighty-three students and over forty educators from the US, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Ireland, Italy, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Poland, Russia, and India meet weekly on Saturdays to reflect on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a blueprint of 17 areas of action to achieve prosperity for future generations. Focusing on three specific goals, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, and Affordable & Clean Energy, participants worked in mixed groups to develop an action plan to address their assigned SDG in their respective home countries. The summit concluded with final presentations and the opportunity to further share cultural perspectives and ideas for a more united, just world.
“For me, it was surreal to have discussions at the same time with kids I would never meet,” said Ferraiuolo, who took part in the Affordable & Clean Energy group. “Hearing those perspectives, it underscores that we’re all in this together. It’s not just going to affect one country, it was reinforced that this is a global problem that everyone feels.” Ordonez expressed similar feelings from his conversations in his Gender Equality group and throughout the summit. “I think we’ve all seen how poverty, gender inequality, and the environmental crisis have affected not only us, but the whole world,” said Ordonez, “so the chance to get to work on these real life issues is just an incredible experience.”
While the inaugural summit was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students are eager to participate in next year’s event, which hopes to invite U.S and international delegations to St. Louis for broader conversations. “I am very much looking forward to next year’s event, as the summit provided not only an opportunity to get to know other students around the world, but also to learn from them,” said Kane. “The work with the SDGs is the first step in making both our Regis community and the global setting better places. Climate and energy issues, the SDG subjects I worked on, are local and global, and I look forward to translating the work I took part in into action in the Regis community.”
“When Regis participates in programs like this, Regians like Preston, David, and Hugh get a sense of the breadth and depth of the mission of Jesuit schools,” Toomb Estevez said, “and not only that, they had the chance to build on their leadership skills by working together with other students from across the world to solve real-life problems facing society today. Although those problems may look different in the many countries the students came from, their approach to solving them was the same because they share the same ideals of Jesuit education.”
Video of final takeaways from the summit can be found below.