Cincinnati Christian Hills Academy Students Meet With Local Refugees
What started as a spark of interest in a government class two years ago, CHCA senior Jack Paquette now has a passion for helping refugees. When his eyes were open to the refugee crisis, he approached CHCA's SOS Director, Karen Hordinski, about ways he could help and make a difference in the lives of refugees.
Over the past two years, Paquette has been involved with Catholic Charities, who locally serves refugees who come to the United States through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These refugees come from extreme poverty, violence, or religious and political persecution in their homelands - seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Paquette has been involved with them in various events, such as a Thanksgiving Dinner and a May Day field day. The most memorable success with them was this past spring, when, as a cast member of CHCA's production of Fiddler on the Roof, he was able to talk about the refugee crisis and raise over $1,000 for Catholic Charities!
For his senior year, Paquette felt called to make a difference in the lives of the student refugees who are new to America, creating a SOS group called STAR (Students Together Assisting Refugees). And this past weekend, STAR partnered with Sheryl Rajbhandari of Heartfelt Tidbits to create a memorable event.
With a hope of having students who are new to America feel welcomed, and to build cross cultural friendships while making some traditional American food, STAR spent this past Saturday partnering with student refugees. Twelve CHCA Upper School students, eight students from the Congo and Syria, two parents of the refugee students, Rajbhandari, CHCA Art Teacher Tim Hilderbrand, CHCA Parent Nancy Mary, and Hordinski had a meaningful experience working together, playing together, and getting to know each other. The event involved cooking and baking together, along with icebreakers, and even a game of volleyball!
"It was a fabulous event, and I couldn't be more proud of Jack for his vision of creating this new SOS group called STAR, and his work in making this event happen," says Hordinski. "It was a very good first gathering and will be followed by another in February."
Paquette shares, "The yearlong planning that has brought me to this point where I was able to bring CHCA students and new American students together for the first time in our history is very inspiring to me. I wish I could do this event more often and I can't wait to do the next one in February, where the new Americans will receive a picture of themselves created by our students."
This group looks forward to continuing to build relationships and provide meaningful connections to student refugees. More to come on this exciting mission!
By Tammy Rosenfeldt
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Beacon of the Week
More About Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy STAR
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