Experience Week 2023
Loyola High School has an annual Experience Week program for Secondary Four students with the goal of engaging them in activities that expose them to cultural, political, and social realities that are a part of being a global citizen. The program's mission is to create and sustain reciprocal, long-lasting relationships that are in line with the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus. These preferences include showing the way to God, Walking with the Excluded, Journeying with Youth, and Caring for our Common Home. The program aims to help students gain an appreciation of who they are and what they face every day, as well as becoming men and women for and with others. From February 19 to 24, Loyola students participated in various activities, including service projects, outdoor recreation, and cultural tours in Montreal, Wheeling, West Virginia, and Camp Kinkora.
One of the options included in the program is the Montreal Experience, which aims to create awareness of marginalized communities within the city. In Montreal, students provided service at several organizations, including Welcome Hall Mission, St. Michael's Mission, Manoir Beaconsfield, Sunrise Senior Living, and MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Center, Philip E. Layton School, and Giant Steps. At Welcome Hall Mission, students supported programs and resources for people experiencing homelessness, families living in poverty, and other vulnerable groups.
“The service was something new to me and it made me realize how fortunate I am and that sometimes I can take things for granted." (Anthony '24)
Likewise at St. Michael's Mission, select students helped provide services to disadvantaged and vulnerable community members. At Sunrise Senior Living, students spent time with senior residents while others engaged in therapeutic activities at Giant Steps Montreal.
“Overall, I really enjoyed it! I met a lot of great people, had the opportunity to learn more about a part of our society that is often neglected and experienced a new school atmosphere. I volunteered at Giant Steps, which is a school for kids with autism. Throughout my week, I had the opportunity to connect with many students ranging from around 6 years old up to 21. The staff was very welcoming and kind hearted. Truly made us feel at home.” (Liam ‘24)
Certain students also spent time at MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Center and the Mackay Centre & Philip E. Layton School which provides services for students with disabilities, including visual and hearing impairments.
“Volunteering to help people with cerebral palsy was an incredibly rewarding experience, with many high points throughout the week. One of the most meaningful aspects is getting to know the individuals I was helping and building relationships with. It’s inspiring to witness their determination and resilience in the face of challenges.” (William ‘24)
In Wheeling, West Virginia, Loyola students participated in various activities, including service at the Greater Wheeling Soup Kitchen and Grow Ohio Valley. At the Greater Wheeling Soup Kitchen, students prepared and served meals for community members affected by the coal mining industry. They also engaged with residents to listen to their stories and share thoughts and ideas. At Grow Ohio Valley, students helped develop community gardens to support local and healthy food sources and contribute to the local economy. Additionally, they toured Tunnel Ridge Coal Mine, Wheeling University, and Ohiopyle State Park.
“The Wheeling trip was well-structured to allow us to have an insightful experience, while also having fun and bonding with classmates. We started with a tour of the Wheeling area, learning about the past, present and future of a once thriving coal mining city. This tour allowed us to truly understand why they need our help and to acknowledge the hardships people we met have gone through.” (Emmanuel ‘24)
At Camp Kinkora, students enjoyed a winter camping experience in St-Adolphe-d'Howard in the Laurentians. They engaged in painting work projects, animation of activities for adults with disabilities and seniors, and outdoor recreation, including snowshoeing, broomball, ball hockey, and tobogganing.
“My Experience Week at Camp Kinkora was an incredible journey. I was able to explore the various trails and was able to help paint, clean, cook and entertain the elderly with the big fire I made. Each activity was different and challenged me in different ways. I was able to have fun with my friends and see new sides of people I never saw before. Overall, my Experience Week at Camp Kinkora was a great opportunity in which I explored nature and helped the community. I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced something I will never forget.” (Antonio ‘24)
Loyola High School's Experience Week 2023 offered Secondary 4 students an immersive opportunity to explore spiritual leadership and contribute to the community locally and internationally. The Experience Week activities aimed to enhance students' understanding of the local and global community's needs, promote teamwork and collaboration, and foster spiritual leadership through reflection on their sense of mission and work. Through their participation in the activities, Loyola students gained invaluable experiences in human diversity, empathy, and social responsibility, which will undoubtedly help shape them into future leaders.