Just VisitingParticipation

Each person should be able to contribute in full to their community.
Paraphrase from Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (189)

All people have the right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Caritas Australia works with local communities to support, promote and develop their capacity in decision-making so they can better respond to their own needs.

Film clip - It's not about helping

Watch the following clip and discuss:

You come here, not so much as to do service for this very poor who need it, but to learn how to make this world a better place.
Sister Len


  • How did Sr Len's comments challenge you?
  • How does the student immersion program help host and visiting students and teachers to learn more from each other?
  • How does your student immersion program emphasise how both host and visiting communities can work together to build a better world?
  • What might change the way you think?
  • Why is it not about helping? Do you have any examples of when helping may be detrimental rather than positive?
  • How can your immersion build a sense of collaborative participation in making a just and fair world, rather than a ‘hero-saviour’ dynamic?
  • How can you make the intent of your immersion clearer and avoid perpetuating unhelpful understandings?

Sister Len puts this question to all of us: "How can you do your part? In your way? In your world? Not for them? How do you do that for yourself so that your little acts, in your part of the world won't affect so much that it makes our part of the world suffer?"

Discuss what this means to you.

This challenge suggests a holistic approach to justice in your school. Considering our actions in Australia informs the process of facilitating a student immersion program, encompassing life beyond the visit and highlighting how faith and justice need to permeate all facets of life. For example, you could consider Fairtrade or ethical products in your school such as coffee, tea and other items. You could consider your environmental impact in areas of school life and make changes to increase your positive impact in this area.

Film clip - We are all responsible for a better world

Watch the following clip and discuss:

Just by opening your homes to them, just be welcoming them, just by inviting them you are doing something. And it's not begging."
Sister Len


  • What challenges and surprises were prompted by Sister Len's comments?
  • How have you highlighted that the visit is not so much to give, but to "assist you in becoming a better person"?
  • How have you prepared students to make sense of the deference they may encounter?
  • How have you highlighted that the value of an exchange between the visitors and host community is not simply material?


Complete the following Harvard 'Visible Thinking' routine using this quote:

"Take every penny you have set aside in aid for Tanzania and spend it in the UK [Australia] explaining to people the facts and causes of poverty." Julius Nyerere, President of Tanzania.
  1. IDENTIFY A QUESTION OF TRUTH OR CONTROVERSIAL CLAIM-- Use the Julius Nyerere quote as your ‘question of truth’.
  2. ASK PARTICIPANTS THEIR OPINION ABOUT THE CLAIM.  -- It's okay not to have one.
  3. DRAW A TUG OF WAR DIAGRAM ON THE BOARD. Explain that you can add two kinds of things. One is evidence -- tugs in the 'Yes, True' direction or the 'No, False' direction. The other thing to add is a question about the tug of war itself, a question that asks for more information or about "what if" we tried this or we tried that, what would the results be?
  4. WHAT NEW IDEAS DO YOU HAVE about the question of truth? Can we decide now? Do some people lean one way and some the other? Is the best answer in a "grey area" -- most of the time true but not always, or half the time? How could we settle it if we had to?
How can your conclusions or discussions be applied to your student immersion program?