In the wake of a year of social unrest and the resulting focus on racial inequality in the nation, Breitbach Catholic Thinkers and Leaders seniors are encouraging the Loras community to listen to the experiences of the marginalized members of society.
“We decided that we wanted to focus our senior project on something that not only celebrates the human dignity of all but also promotes it,” Breitbach senior Jacob Heidenreich (’21) explained. “Especially after the racial injustices that occurred this past summer, we all concluded that we wanted to create a project that focused on the topic of race and establish a project that promotes the voices of Duhawks of color and celebrates the gifts and blessings they bring to our community.”
To ensure that those voices are heard, the Breitbach seniors launched the DuListen project, which uses a blog and social media campaign to promote the experiences and stories of Duhawks of color on campus. This blog includes an explanation of the project, featuring pictures, videos, and quotes from people of color at Loras College.
“One of the most crucial aspects of this project comes from the title: listening. We all felt that we needed to create a project that presents opportunities for people coming from privilege to listen to our brothers and sisters of color. Far too many times in our nation’s history have voices of color been silenced and dismissed. By listening to the stories and experiences of our Duhawks of Color, we stand in solidarity with them and respect the human dignity they hold,” Heidenreich said.
The project is the culmination of the Breitbach student experience on campus and comes out of the senior seminar.
“This capstone course, entitled, Leadership Seminar for Social Justice, is designed to bring together many facets of the four years of curricular and co-curricular learning that the Breitbach students experience together,” Colleen Kuhl, leadership & service coordinator for religious studies, said. It features an emphasis on “Leadership for Social Change,” Catholic Social Teaching, and continuing to seek out the ways that God is calling one to use God-given gifts to respond to the needs of the world. Individually and together as a community, the Breitbach students are seeking to live out the message of the gospel: ‘what you are given as a gift, give as a gift.’”
The stories and videos of participants who have shared their experiences can be found on the project webpage. As more stories are added, they will be available on the site.
While these efforts are focused on the current Loras students, the goal of the project is to have a longer-lasting impact.
“Although we have launched the DuListen website and social media campaign, we are far from finished,” Breitbach senior Daniel Feldhake (’21) said. “It is our goal that this becomes a lasting, sustained project that current and future Duhawks can feel comfortable and welcomed to share their story. As we move forward into the spring semester, we hope to expand further and reach more Duhawks from the initial traction gained from the launch of the project. This will include more outreach to the campus and to post and highlight more stories on the website.”
Anyone interested in participating in the DuListen project can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Breitbach Catholic Thinkers & Leaders Program is a four-year experience that challenges and engages the whole student – academically, spiritually, personally and socially – while learning what it means to be a Catholic thinker and leader in today’s world. You can learn more about the program here.