Social Justice Through Literature: A Focus on the New Elective at Visitation

The+%22Walk+a+Mile%22+elective+go+on+their+daily+walk+in+class.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Camden+Wright

The “Walk a Mile” elective go on their daily walk in class. Photo Courtesy of Camden Wright

Camden Wright, Arts, Culture, & Style Editor

This year, I got the opportunity to participate in Visitation’s new, semester-long, social justice-focused English elective called “Social Justice Through Literature”. The class is nicknamed “Walk a Mile Class” because of the daily walks where students practiced empathy and took a deeper dive in getting to know other perspectives. During the first half of this class, we had a discussion-based format where we would define words such as justice, freedom, equality, and equity, and we discussed different issues around the world.

The second half of the class time was an opportunity for us as students to research one specific issue and start a change within the community. As a class, some issues that were focused on were climate change, period poverty, missing and murdered indigenous women, injustices towards veterans, dress code, and food insecurity and its effects in the classroom. 

For me, choosing one topic to focus on was challenging because I was so interested on how the social justice issues that we talked about as a class connected throughout. After some thought, I decided to start my own podcast called “Talk a Mile” to interview various individuals in the Vis community. I started off my research by diving into food insecurity and its effects in the classroom. Although I thought I had learned most of what I needed to know to complete my podcast project, I found that I actually learned more while filming the actual project.

I interviewed five of my six classmates in the Walk a Mile Class as well as our teacher, Mr. Dornbach. Throughout these interviews, I learned about the issues that others researched by asking the questions: How is this issue present in the Visitation community? How is this issue present in the Twin Cities? And how is this issue present in the world? In doing so, I noticed connections throughout each topic. To learn more about these connections and our research from this class, I encourage you to go listen to my podcast which can be found here on the Vis Voice website in the Arts, Culture, and Style section!

Overall, my experiences in Social Justice through Literature class are ones that are unforgettable. I truly felt motivated to do self-research and thought of this class as more of an opportunity to grow and create change, rather than do daily assignments just for a grade. Taking this class helped me better understand issues in our society, but perhaps, more importantly, taught me how to do better at listening to others to learn more and begin to feel empathy (which we get time to do by walking around the beautiful Vis campus each class!) by truly attempting to walk a mile through other’s shoes by opening your mind to perspective. I definitely recommend taking this class if you get the opportunity to because it is a once in a lifetime experience.