Jose Antonio Vargas to Visit SHC

Jose Antonio Vargas, documentary filmmaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who bravely "outed" himself as an undocumented American, will speak to an intimate gathering of students and faculty at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory on Tuesday, December 2. Social justice leader and founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration reform, “Vargas is the face of the immigration crisis in our country today,” says Instructor of Social Studies Abi Basch. In collaboration with the San Francisco Film Society and in anticipation of his visit, social studies and languages other than english classrooms screened Vargas’ film, Undocumented.

Jose Antonio Vargas’ visit comes at the perfect time. As a community, SHC students, faculty and staff read Francisco Jimenez’s moving autobiography, Breaking Through, as their One School, One Book selection this year. Jimenez gives a voice to more than 11 million undocumented immigrants struggling to make a home for themselves in the United States. The entire SHC community engaged in discussions of social justice, immigrant rights, and the vital contribution of undocumented immigrants to American society.


“As Catholic educators, our mission is not solely dedicated to the intellectual development of our young people, but to the development of the whole person,” says Instructor of Theology Tanya Susoev ’04. “By integrating social justice curriculum into our classrooms, we not only create future critical thinkers, but future leaders driven by compassion, solidarity and justice. As modeled by our founders, we must foster peace and create change through faith in word and action.”

Both Vargas and Jimenez model tangible examples of social justice in action, bringing to life for SHC students social issues that often feel distant, theoretical, or at worst, hopeless.

“In moving away from simply discussing broad issues to telling the stories of individuals and communities, our students can recognize their shared human experience and shared responsibility in creating alternatives and avenues for change,” says Susoev. “Immersing themselves in an emotional and personal exploration allows them to build trust, take risks and consider answers to their own questions.”

Vargas’ visit to SHC brings a personal perspective to a real-world social justice issue. “I hope that this unique engagement will raise students’ awareness of the community around them, and that they support those in our community who are undocumented: friends, neighbors or teammates,” says Basch. “They might gain a better understanding of the legal challenges Congress faces in establishing a fair path to citizenship. Ultimately, I hope this will strengthen their resolve to seek justice for all, and to live our motto: Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.

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