Notre Dame High School San Jose seniors from all United States Government classes participated in an experiential learning trip to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish recently. They visited the parish, located in East San Jose, to learn more about its history and mission, as well as the surrounding Mayfair community, also known as “Sal si puedes” (get out if you can).
The students travelled by bus via Route 22 and walked through the neighborhood to reach the church. Once there, they were greeted by Father Pedigo who provided a background about the community and shared very powerful examples of the systematic disparity and oppression to which the members of the community are regularly subjected. The students learned about how this community was created due to the forced migration of Mexican miners across the Valley following the California gold rush. He spoke about fighting this oppression with what he calls “systematic resistance,” fighting the institutions of discrimination that are in place through an interconnected community effort.
The students also learned about Amigos de Guadalupe, a nonprofit that works toward providing resources for the Mayfair community. These efforts include a wide range of necessities, from immigration services to a food pantry. In a place where children are disadvantaged simply because of where they live, Amigos de Guadalupe works to motivate students to attend college and gain a higher education.
In addition, the ND girls stood in solidarity with the community by visiting the Garden of Crosses. Here, the parish memorializes the death of each person killed within the community using a cross bearing the name of that individual. This program is a very powerful way that the Mayfair community works to raise awareness of the violence they live with every day. The students also had a chance to visit McDonnell Hall, the meeting room Cesar Chavez used to organize the community in the early days of his nationwide protest for civil rights and fair working conditions. In this hall, Chavez met with others in order to assemble and plan events such as voter registration drives and legislative campaigns.
After a much-needed lunch provided by a thoughtful member of the community, the students spent the rest of the day volunteering at the parish and in the surrounding areas. They were able to tutor children, canvas the neighborhood providing information about parish services, and help with graffiti removal.
Notre Dame constantly encourages students to learn about and stand in solidarity with our local community. This trip to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish allowed students to delve into the subject as they learned more deeply about the roots of San Jose and the work that still remains to be done.