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Student Advocates for Change in Detention Center Phone System
At the core of the Benilde-St. Margaret's mission as a Catholic school is our longstanding tradition of service. We believe that service is a way for our students to connect with their faith and to respond to the gospel call to love one another. The values of service learning and servant leadership are woven throughout the religion curriculum. One of the electives offered to seniors is a service based advocacy course called Faith in Action.
Through Faith in Action, students are encouraged to be a sign of God’s love through advocacy for social justice. Each student participates in an advocacy project, which includes completing 15 hours of service with one organization over the course of the semester.
The advocacy project is a chance for students to choose an organization or cause they are passionate about. For Teagan Wolf, her project focus was a no-brainer. Fluent in Spanish, well-traveled through participation on mission trips and exposed in a variety of ways to immigrant populations, Teagan developed a passion for the issues related to immigration.
“A lot of my teachers and role models in elementary school were immigrants from Spanish speaking countries. They brought with them their teaching skills but also their diverse cultures and values, and I think it really influenced me to be open to new cultures and ideas as I was growing up. When I went to mission trips, a majority of the young people I spoke to had dreams of coming to live in the United States. I think that really made me want to do something within the realm of immigration,” explained Teagan.
Teagan’s original plan was to make a documentary about immigration and the system of immigration detention centers around the country. However, with limited time, options and obstacles, Teagan settled to focus on the issue close to home.
Early in her project, she made the discovery that there is only one immigration detention center in Minnesota. Teagan began calling Ramsey County Detention Center looking to arrange a tour of the facility when she learned you have to be 18 in order to do so. Though the documentary idea was likely not an option anymore, she realized there was another advocacy opportunity in front of her.
“Luckily, my attention was caught by the fact that when you call the detention center, the system only recognizes and displays English. Knowing how many people in the state of Minnesota only speak other languages such as Spanish, I knew this was an important issue to take on.”
From there, Teagan got in contact with Brad, a lieutenant in Ramsey County who runs the detention center. Her goal was to give people, both detainees and their family members, access to some basic resources. Working with Brad, she was able to get Ramsey County to order the implementation of a Spanish IVR system for their phone line. As of April 28, the detention facility has had the system up and running!
“With this project I hoped to create real change that would help people who speak other languages. I also wanted to open up a dialogue surrounding detention centers around the country. Having only one language of access in these systems makes it very difficult for family members to get in contact with authorities or try and help their loved ones who might be detained,” Teagan shared.
After attending BSM since junior high, Teagan has learned and lived the values of service learning. “Opportunities like these are so unique to BSM because of our religious charisms that influence our curriculum across many disciplines. Here at BSM, we are always encouraged to serve others.”
She is one of the many great example of our Red Knights embodying the mission of Jesus Christ through her dedication to serve and lead within her community. Through her time here at BSM and in her Faith in Action class, Teagan learned that the power of human potential to bring positive change in the world is possible. We are #BSMProud!
Teagan had the opportunity to share her passion for immigration alongside her classmates at the Justice Fair Monday, May 15. The Justice Fair is a place where students in Faith in Action classes are able to showcase their advocacy project to their peers.
(Photography students partnered with the Faith in Action class to create their own artisitc representations of the student presenters.)