Category Archives: Collaboration in Education

Educational Vision Crosses Cultures

By Sisters Masako Miyake and Carol Shoup, SNDdeN

St. Julie envisioned the educational mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to extend worldwide. That vision has unfolded in various ways into the 21st century. One expression of Julie’s early vision is the networking of “Sister Schools” internationally.

Exchange Students
Notre Dame Seishin* Girls’ Junior and Senior High School (NDS) in the city of Kurashiki, in the Okayama Prefecture, Japan, and Notre Dame High School in San Jose (NDSJ), California, U.S.A. are “Sister Schools” and even across a wide and deep ocean, relationships keep building. (Seishin = Immaculate Heart)

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One student and Amy Huang, (back row-left) Director of the Exchange Program at Notre Dame, San Jose, welcome 12 Japanese students and their teacher, Ms. Kazumi Yamamoto (far right) outside of the school.

Every year young women from both schools have the opportunity to share their unique academic programs, cultures, and learning environments as exchange students. This year, Ms. Amy Huang, Director (NDSJ), organized the many details of the Student Exchange Program. On March 18, Amy and host families welcomed 12 Japanese students, their teacher, Ms. Kazumi Yamamoto, and their Principal, Sister Masako Miyake SNDdeN for two weeks of academic and social sharing.

The first week began with a welcome breakfast and campus tour, including a history of the City of San Jose given by Social Studies teacher Mr. Jim Floyd. Shadowing their host IMG_9680-web600pxstudents to classes during the school week, our visitors experienced spotlights in classes in Global Studies Honors, Advanced Spanish Culture and Conversation, and in Biology Honors Class, where they examined and identified hominid skull casts. Then, hosted by Notre Dame Alumnae, they visited and toured Stanford University and Intel Corporation, for glimpses of higher education and innovation in America.

Highlights of Two Weeks

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In the gym at NDSJ, Ms. Kazumi Yamamoto and the students from Kurashiki, Japan, share the love of St. Julie Billiart and her mission.

Our new friends enjoyed highlights of the Woman’s Place Project, by the Ninth Grade class, who honor in original table settings, 163 women of history, as well as the Young Woman Advocacy Summit, presentations by the Seniors’ of their yearly service projects on issues of justice and peace. At the end of the first week, our exchange students delighted in a downtown culture walk, a visit and tour of City Hall and the office of International Affairs.

After a weekend with host families and friends, the Japanese students were happy to see their Principal, Sister Masako Miyake, who came for the last week of the program, and curious and eager to explore a sister ND school and capture as much as possible on her camera. The students shared with Sr. Masako their visit to San Jose’s historic Japan town and Yu-Ai Kai, a Japanese-American senior center.

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The students share with Sr. Masako their visit to San Jose’s historic Japan town and Yu-Ai-Kai, a Japanese American senior center.

The girls delighted the senior citizens with Japanese songs and stories and enjoyed lunch before returning to school. During the next two days, the group toured San Francisco, with so many sights, from the cable cars and Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate.

Deepened Relationships
Reflection time and discussion were interspersed over the course of the two weeks, for increased understanding and deepening of relationships. The exchange program concluded in a Farewell Party, with certificates for completion awarded to our Japanese students. There were dances and expressions of appreciation, among laughter, smiles, and tears. ND Seishin school gifted to their Sister School some beautifully decorated wooden plates. In return, NDSJ presented our Notre Dame Seishin school with a clock, engraved with a customized quote, “Time does not take away from friendship…”
(Tennessee Williams).

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At the airport, NDSJ students, teachers and some parents say “good-bye” to Japanese students, Ms. Kazumi Yamamoto and Sr. Masako Miyake, SNDdeN.

Thankful for their presence in our school community, teachers and students from NDSJ said farewell to these special young women, their teacher and principal from ND Seishin. Now, both schools begin to plan for ND San Jose students to visit ND Seishin, Kurashiki during the summer of 2018 in order to expand their vision of a Notre Dame Sister School and the culture and beauty of the “Land of the Rising Sun.”

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Faithful to Heritage in Saint Hubert

by Sister Monique-Marie Petit, SNDdeN and Mr. Patrick François*

In April 1812, in a letter to the superior
of the community in Saint Hubert, St. Julie writes:
“Everyone wants to come to Saint-Hubert.”

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In August 1809, Saint Julie Billiart founded the school of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in Saint Hubert, Belgium, at the request of the mayor of the city. At that time, three Sisters became the community and opened the school with two classes. Even though much has changed from the early years, the Institut Notre-Dame celebrates today over 200 years of life as an educational institution! In 1985, the Institut Notre Dame joined with the Institut of the Marist Brothers in a merger school called: the Fundamental and Secondary Free School of Saint Hubert (Ecole fondamentale et secondaire libre de Saint-Hubert). The number of students continues to increase, with 700 students now in the secondary school and 240 in the pre-school and elementary schools.

SNDdeN Presence in Disadvantaged Area
A city of 3500 inhabitants, in the middle of the Ardennes Forest in the province of Luxembourg, Saint Hubert is considered an economically deprived area in relationship to the two nearest cities.  Many families live and survive, inspite of unemployment, thanks to the Public Center of Social Action. The student body, both in the secondary as well as in the pre-school and elementary grades, becomes more financially and socially disadvantaged from year to year. In the secondary school, more than one student in three is not able to pay the entrance fee in September. The young people, 32 girls and boys who are welcomed into the boarding residence are for the most part children from one-parent families, with emotional and financial problems. Practically one-third of those students depend on youth-aid services. In 2016, the secondary school opened a special class to educate children of new immigrants welcomed into the region.

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Sisters Jeanne-Emmanuel Pairon and Marie-Clotilde Gilles, SNDdeN play games with the student boarders.

Two retired Sisters, Sœurs Jeanne-Emmanuel Pairon and Marie-Clotilde Gilles, SNDdeN live in the building and bring ready assistance and a happy presence to the life of the school. Another SNDdeN, Sister Monique-Marie Petit, SNDdeN, is a member of the Board of Trustees. Today, at the heart of this school, is an oratory, a place of calm, prayer and reflection. Faculty, staff and students, faithful to St. Julie’s spirit, visit frequently this oratory. The directors in the different sections of the school are particularly sensitive to the educational values transmitted by Saint Julie: one director, Mr. Patrick François, belongs to the group of directors organized by the South Belgium/France Province whose goal is the implementation of Julie’s charism in our heritage schools, in our time.

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Sr. Monique-Marie Petit, SNDdeN, visits the pre-school and helps with lunch.

In the pre-school and in the elementary school, a special effort is made to have the children eat the noon meal at school and also to have staffing for supervision/counselling for student-boarders. Offering this possibility demands a big investment of time and energy for supervision of the students by the teachers and brings peace, security and enjoyment for the children.

Educational Values
A major objective of the school is to educate the whole person and to help every young student to find his/her way and place in life. The administrators, faculty and staff welcome each child to the school, whatever may be his/her way, and allow each one to have new opportunities, and sometimes a third or fourth chance to succeed.  These students, like all others, are “lifted up” to Christian values which motivate and guide the adults serving in the school. The full staff has the will to help the 2mai2017-009-300pxwebweakest and most deprived, which is a strong value inherent in this school. As a goal of our Notre Dame foundresses, this value inspires teachers and administrators to form these young people to the best of their abilities. Among other Notre Dame values, the school is a place of respect and welcome, an inclusive community where differences are lived out each day by students from different cities, town, social classes, and enrolled in different academic programs or options. Sharing and good relationships are born in exchanges among students and teachers from day to day.

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Students in the elementary and high school find friends at recreation after lunch.

In order to give the children in the early years more quiet spaces in their life and apprenticeships, a renovation of the buildings was undertaken in the summer of 2016. Now the pre-school and elementary classes are located in one large building, on a green and ventilated site. During recreation time for the elementary school, constructive activities take place in order to involve students and limit any conflicts. Also, the space reserved for games is more self-contained, with the yard divided into different zones: discussion, games, sports and ball games…etc.  Consequently, the secondary school uses now the property from the elementary school which enables a greater cohesiveness for their sports teams.

Welcome and inclusion of students from a disadvantaged milieu becomes possible, thanks to creativity and the involvement of many people. To permit each student to pursue his/her studies and to have some materials involves great financial efforts at the school. The members of the Board of Trustees, administrators, teachers and the students organize lucrative activities to accomplish these ends/aims: fancy-fair, plays, sale of lasagna, etc. This is a challenge each year. The young people are aware of these charitable and disinterested actions in participating at gatherings for increasing funding sources. They learn to contribute to projects for fighting against leprosy or tuberculosis in the Third World, for animation in day nurseries or homes for the aged, and become involved in other service projects.

As a former student of the Institut Notre-Dame and the merged Institut Saint-Joseph, Sr. Monique-Marie realizes that this school has remained faithful to the educational values of Saint Julie and Marcellin Champagnat (Marist Brothers’ Founder).  In spite of difficulties experienced, St. Julie’s spirit is active and alive daily in Saint Hubert: “Ah ! Qu’Il est bon le Bon Dieu.”
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**Sister Monique-Marie Petit, SNDdeN is a Member of the Board of  Trustees at Saint Hubert. Mr. Patrick François is Director of the first degree level at the school and also a member in the Association of French-speaking Congregational Schools in Belgium/France (ASSOEC)—See Good Works, June 2012, pp.12-14

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Network: A Cry for Life

Sr. Josineide Maria da Silva, SNDdeN  

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Sr. Josineide Maria da Silva, SNDdeN works with women from other Religious Congregations to prevent trafficking of women and children.

I am a woman religious in the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and a social worker.  As a woman, Christian, religious and social worker, I value my duty to  save lives from any injustice and to struggle for others to protect their human rights.

To combat this crime against the human person, I began to work in 2012 with women of various Religious Congregations who form Network: A Cry for Life, for the purpose of preventing the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. This Network emerged so that women religious may take an active stance against the reality of human trafficking. In the face of the clamor of the victims of sexual exploitation and the diverse modalities of the trafficking of persons, women religious accept the challenge of a specific ministry, focused on this growing crisis in modern-day society.

The major objectives of the Network are:

  • to raise awareness and provide information by prioritizing groups in situations of vulnerability, community leaders, pastoral agents and others;
  • to organize groups of reflection and study;
  • to spread the ministry by empowering individuals who will empower others;
  • to participate in social movements advocating for public policies for confronting the trafficking of persons.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE 2010), the state of Pará has 7,581,051 inhabitants from 144 counties; these are gigantic proportions compared to most of the other states in the Amazon region.  A negative aspect for this population in Brazil arises from the elevated incidence of women trafficked for sexual exploitation. Women from the peripheries of Belém are recruited for Surinam, French Guyana and other countries to practice obligatory sex and other evil objectives, such as human slavery.

Pastoral Ministry for Women
The trafficking of persons, especially of women, is a consequence of social inequality and an expressed, depraved social issue, from colonial times in Brazil until today. The main victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation are girls and women who live in situations of poverty and social vulnerability.  In the face of this reality, I am sensitive to women and girls who are victims of trafficking for sex and other ends.

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Sr. Josineide presents her paper which shows how social inequality and ineffective public polices contribute trafficking of women and children.

Active Involvement through Education
Professionals in social work face a great variety of challenges in today’s society, with sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy in adolescents, trafficking of persons for sexual exploitation among others.  Social workers seek alternatives to understand these challenges for the persons involved.  As a requirement for completion of a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, I presented a paper at the University on December 5, 2016 on the reality of the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in the city of Belém, as a current and great challenge for social workers. Researching and writing this paper led me to discover that social inequality and the ineffectiveness of public policies are factors that contribute to many incidences of sexual exploitation. Social Service workers must start by seeking public policies that meet the needs of the women who are victims of sexual exploitation by traffickers of persons.

josi-bz-1-200-px-webI see this crime as happening in a “silent” and “invisible” manner, as exemplified by the reality of women on the periphery of Belém.  I want to work by exposing this crime by ministering to these women as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur and to assist these victims in collaboration with other women religious for systemic change in Brazil.

A thought that inspires me often as I minister to those in need is the valued ideal of the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa:

 “I struggled against white domination, and I struggled against black domination.  I nourished the ideal of a democratic and free society, in which all live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal that I hope to live to see become reality. But, if necessary, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

 

Ohio Province Promotes Congregational Projects

Karen Hadden and Angie Weisgerber,
Associate Director and Assistant Director of Development

smndphtovoltaic-1385_hdr-300px-webThe Ohio Province has initiated an educational project at Mount Notre Dame in Cincinnati, Ohio,  on the property at East Columbia Avenue. In an unused garage, solar panels and batteries have been installed for a Photovoltaic Learning Lab Project as part of an engineering experiment for two Notre Dame schools — Mount Notre Dame High School, an all girls school located next to the convent grounds in Cincinnati, OH, and Chaminade Julienne High School, a co-ed school located in Dayton, OH. In collaboration with Mr. Louis Casey, an engineer who coordinates the African Photovoltaic Project (APP) with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur internationally, the Development Office of the Ohio Province began a forward-looking initiative to connect with international efforts for collaboration, education and fund-raising. Students learn multiple aspects about conserving energy and the benefits of solar power through an experimental solar model. Solar panels on the convent garage convert the energy from the sun and store this solar power in batteries.

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Keith Hanley, Learning Lab Volunteer Project Engineer, meets with Sr. Lorraine Connell, SNDdeN to learn about the success and expansion of the African Photovoltaic Project in the sites where Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur serve in ministry.

This system is similar to the photovoltaic system which the Sisters are using to bring electricity and a water purification system to schools, hospitals and convents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.

Photovoltaic Prototypes
In 2005, the Sisters set up a photovoltaic prototype at the Cuvilly Arts and Earth Center in Ipswich, MA to test the viability of this project for the ministries and communities of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in Africa. This prototype in the pre-school and arts center proved to be a successful venture for installations in the Congo and Nigeria. With the help of generous donors, the SNDdeN Congregation moved forward with installations first for a community in Fugar and for the schools in Awkunanaw, Nigeria (later for communities in Abuja, Enugu, Illorin and Oro). Then, through 10 years, the Photovoltaic sites expanded in the Congo, first in Ngidinga, and then in Lemfu, Kitenda, Pelende, Kinsaku, Mpese, and Nselo.  These installations have been providing electricity, water purification and technology access to ministries and communities, from 2006 to the present.

Education through Experimentation

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Mount Notre Dame High School engineering students working on an experiment in the Learning Lab.

In some ways, the Ohio Province project is another prototype for education and experimentation for students and faculty in a few schools in Ohio and Illinois. The Photovoltaic Learning Laboratory in Cincinnati is a teaching center where students learn about energy as well as about the work of the Sisters in communities and ministries in Africa. During January and February 2017, engineering students conducted experiments for understanding power grids, in order to determine the length of time for the batteries to drain and be restored in tracking the lighting on the power grid. Students from Mount Notre Dame and Chaminade Julienne High Schools are collaborating on this experiment.  Students monitor the output, input, recharging of batteries, and track time, weather conditions and temperature. Students collect, record and summarize the data.  They will present a formal report at the Science Exposition at the University of Cincinnati in March 2017.  They understand the importance of this experiment and the ongoing and lasting effects of a photovoltaic system for supplying electricity and for purifying water.  They realize the impact that this system is already effecting in many sites where the Sisters of Notre Dame live and serve in the Congo and in Nigeria. This learning experience is a way for the faculty and staff in Notre Dame schools in the Ohio Province to understand how the Sisters are contributing to the lives and progress of the people in Africa.  It is an opportunity for them to contribute to the work of the Sisters for sustainability of life for the people in underdeveloped countries and to extend these efforts in the future. Students are experiencing a real connection with the Mission of the Sisters, as they realize the impact of this project begun by the Sisters in 2005 and continuing with success until today!

Lenten Water Project
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Students in Notre Dame schools throughout the Ohio Province participate also in the Lenten Water project. Schools support this global outreach program of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur by raising funds for water purification packets from Proctor and Gamble’s non-profit foundation, Children’s Safe Drinking Water, to be distributed for water purification in communities and ministries in Africa and Latin America. These packets purify the water and supply drinking water to towns and villages that would otherwise be deprived of clean water.  The children in our schools show how much they want to help children in other parts of the Globe.

Sister Ann Fanella, SNDdeN tells about a 4th grade student in Chicago:

 Sr. Ann: Last year a young girl approached me in church with a container of money she had collected during Lent.

Child: Is this going to help someone?

Sr. Ann: Yes! You will help so many people.

Child: (jumping up and down) I am so happy I can help other children.

Since the Ohio Province started this program in 2011, 45 schools have contributed over $140,000 to pay for these water packets, distributed to different Notre Dame sites in the Southern Hemisphere. During Lent 2017, schools in Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, OH; Phoenix, AZ and throughout the United States will contribute to the Clean Water Project, promoted by the Congregational Mission Office in Ipswich, MA.

See the Lenten Project on the homepage of the international Website: www.sndden.org and read the next article by Sr. Evalyne Aseyo, SNDdeN in Kenya.

 

 

Promises to Keep: Educational Legacy

“That they all may be one…” –John 17:21

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Founder’s Day this year at St. Julie High School in Woolton, Liverpool, England evolved into a unique celebration, led by the school chaplain, Mr. Mike Anderson.  Sr. Margaret Walsh, SNDdeN, Chairperson of the Board of Governors, welcomed the students, administrators and faculty to an important assembly in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool.  Kate McCourt, a Deputy Head Teacher, introduced the 1804 Society, a mission and leadership organization named for the founding date of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Words, song and dance focused on continuing the educational legacy of St. Julie Billiart on this 200th anniversary of her death (April 8, 2016), and beyond.

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Passing the Baton
The assembly seized the image of “passing the baton” in a relay race to pass on Julie’s spirit to one another and to others in our time.  This symbol of running the race, as St. Paul reminds us, symbolized for the students a way of working as a team to reach a goal together in continuing the Mission of St. Julie. The entire school community made a commitment to proclaim God’s goodness to this generation and the next.

In a symbolic ceremony of picking up and passing the baton,” the whole student body, over 1000 students, and their administrators, faculty and staff made public promises in a moving ceremony at the school.  Two students invited all to stand and to respond in promises to carry on the work of St. Julie. Libby announced the ceremony in reminding the assembly of the significance of this year.

Then, Savannah, the head student, led the ceremony of promises:

Will you open your heart as wide as the world?
Response: I will!

Will you be an angel of peace?
Response: I will!

Will you stand tall as sunflowers as an example to others?
Response: I will!

Will you be a courageous soul and stand up against wrongdoing?
Response: I will!

Will you serve the good God well with much liberty of spirit?
Response: I will!

Will you follow the example of the Sisters of Notre Dame?
Response: I will!

Will you pick up the baton and continue the legacy of St. Julie?
Response: I will!

The Deputy Principal, Mr. Tony Costello reminded the students that these are big promises.  He then asked the students to pray together for the grace of keeping these promises and to ask, as St. Julie did, for Mary’s intercession. The commitment ceremony concluded as the entire assembly prayed together a Hail Mary, followed by St. Julie, pray for us, protect us and bless us!  The Head Teacher, Mr. Tim Alderman congratulated all involved in this inspiring programme and moving celebration.

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Additional Photographs and video footage are available online from St. Julie’s High School in Woolton, Liverpool, England.

http://www.stjulies.org.uk/news/1323/371/Founders-Day-Celebration/d,new_detail.html

GW June 2016 – Promises to Keep