Refugee Awareness Week at St. John’s Prep

The Arab Language and Culture Club, Campus Ministry, Student Life and the MACD Team organized a dynamic series of events this week that brought awareness and encouraged discussion around the international refugee crisis.


The programs all tied into the special focus at St. John’s this year on the Xaverian value of compassion, and the call from Pope Francis for Catholic schools and parishes to advocate for those on the margins and journey with those who are suffering. The Arab Language and Culture Club took to heart the challenge given to students at the beginning of the year to make compassion an action verb by creating this week of programming for their classmates. See photos from the week here.


“I appreciate the efforts of the Arab Language and Culture Club to provide a forum for students to learn more about the worldwide refugee crisis. It also provides an important opportunity for students to see how to have positive, constructive dialogue about complex issues,” said Principal Keith Crowley, Ph.D.


Ms. Nibal Awad, a moderator of the Arab Language and Culture Club and one of the organizers of the week’s events, was impressed by the respect and compassion shown by the students who participated.


“As a Syrian American, I was really proud of our club members when they presented the idea of planning a Refugee Awareness Week. We have been discussing the Syrian refugee crisis throughout the course of the year and they felt strongly that it was just too important not to share with the Prep community,” Ms. Awad said.


One of the events that made a strong impact was a presentation by Mike Niconchuk ’07. He spoke to students about his intensive work with refugees and the psychological impact the crisis has had on them. As a researcher and consultant, he has spent more than five years in post-conflict communities in Central America and in the Middle East.


“Mike's presentation about the devastating reality of the refugee crisis and the work he is doing to serve others was powerful and so moving for our students and faculty. It goes to show the irreplaceable impact our alumni have on the student Prep experience and the world beyond the Prep,” Ms. Awad said.


The students who had the chance to hear Mike speak agree. “It opened my eyes to incredible facts and findings that I have never come across before. Having lunch with Mike was a great opportunity to get an up-close perspective on the problems in Syria. I now have a much better understanding of the situation,” said David Luongo '17, liaison chair for the Prep’s Arab Language and Culture Club.



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