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Students Open Hearts, Minds to Global Refugee Crisis

This March, Jesuit hosted special guest speaker Katrine Camilleri as part of the school's annual Multicultural Week and ongoing efforts to create connections and collaboration between JHS Portland and the global Jesuit community.

Camilleri, recipient of the 2007 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, is a lawyer and the Country Director for Jesuit Refugee Services in Malta, a small island nation situated in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the North Africa coast. She spoke to students in International Studies classes about the global refugee crisis and her two decades of experience providing legal advice and support to thousands of forcibly displaced people who have arrived by boat to the island of Malta.

Camilleri's visit came on the heels of Jesuit's second annual "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" refugee camp simulation, an experiential learning activity organized by JHS upperclassmen. Seniors and juniors led freshmen World History classes through the camp simulation, designed to shed light on the experiences of some of the world's 65 million people who are forcibly displaced by war, persecution, natural disasters, and other injustices.

"I believe that sometimes we forget that the [statistics] represent real people," said senior leader Archita Harathi. "After participating in the refugee simulation my junior year, I realized that I could go beyond what I thought was possible as a high school student. I learned that as students, we could help emphasize the reality of living as a refugee."

As part of the simulation, students learned about Pope Francis' call to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate migrants and refugees. They also learned about life in a refugee camp: crossing a border, food and water allocations, educational opportunities, access to medical care, and more.


Katrine Camilleri

Katrine Camilleri is a lawyer and Country Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Malta. She is the recipient of the 2007 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, presented to an individual or organization who has dedicated their time going above and beyond the call of duty to help people forcibly displaced from their homes. For more than two decades, she has provided legal advice and moral support to thousands of boat people who arrive on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean and are temporarily held in detention centers. Katrine has headed the Malta office of Jesuit Refugee Service since 2011. She and her staff have supported thousands of refugees, giving them legal advice, organizing visits to the detention centers, providing psychological support and facilitating access to healthcare.