Xavier College student HARRY BOROVAC recently completed a Christian Service placement with Jesuit Social Services. In this guest blog, he reflects on the impact of meeting our participants and sharing in their life stories.

My time at Jesuit Social Services provided me with an opportunity to learn and grow as a young student. I didn’t know a lot about the organisation nor how they help shape participants lives. This experience gave us a real understanding of the incredible programs Jesuit Social Services run on a daily basis.

During our five-day Christian service placement, we were able to have full exposure to the organisation and how it worked, with visits to Jesuit Social Services sites in Richmond, Brunswick, Preston, Sunshine, Camberwell and in Collingwood.

One particularly valuable aspect of this week was being able to learn and grasp new understandings of our world through exposure to some of the issues faced within the community. I was lucky enough to learn about the facilities that Jesuit Social Services offered in Sunshine at the Visy Hub. We were able to meet asylum seekers and migrants who wanted to learn English through cooking and having simple conversations with each other. This enabled us to understand the everyday struggles of moving countries, such as learning a foreign language and having to adjust to the new cultural differences that exist within the community. We baked some cupcakes with the participants and spoke basic English to assist and help with their vocabulary.

Other programs which I loved participating in were the English classes in Preston, where we were working with recently arrived asylum seekers. This was a powerful and emotional experience as we heard their stories of hardship, persistence and struggle. The stories each of the women told were inspirational and displayed a willingness to grow, learn and adapt in a new-found home in Australia. They are embracing Australia and the opportunities available to them.

Jesuit Social Services are working towards a better society where everyone is able to have opportunities to grow, develop and be part of a multicultural community, no matter their background or circumstances. Jesuit Social Services are pivotal in helping those who have struggled and are there to assist them in having a second chance at a better life. The theme of having a chance is something that each program strives to deliver.

After being exposed to Jesuit Social Services for a week, the Xavier College students were able to understand the valuable programs that aid many people on a daily basis through mentoring children and adults, to providing a community centre for art and music, teaching asylum seekers English programs and providing many more invaluable programs.

We ultimately learnt valuable lessons about different people from a variety of backgrounds and upbringings through hearing about their experiences.

We further developed our empathy through our face to face interactions. We learnt that there is so much that can be done in our communities to engage, promote and accept others. Jesuit Social Services is doing an extraordinary job to help this cause. It shows how we are able to have a positive impact on the world through helping in our community.