Interfaith Youth Justice Trip by Joan Daye

Posted on July 26, 2019 by Racial Justice Ministries

My name is Joan Daye and I am a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Evanston, IL.  I am sixteen years old, and I was one of sixteen high school students to go on the Interfaith Youth Justice Trip over spring break, youth from Grace, Beth Emet Synagogue and Second Baptist Church, all located in Evanston, IL, March 27-31, 2019. The trip was an amazing whirlwind! We went to many wonderful places; each has a unique way of impacting our society. I made a lot of new friends along the way. We started in Evanston and then branched out to Englewood, Bridgeport, Marquette Park, and Lawndale. We saw many powerful people who use that power for good. On the fourth day of the trip, our group partook in a nonviolence training at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. During this training, we learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles and steps for nonviolence. The trainers had us do many fun activities, including making short skits that showed the principles and steps. Nonviolence is proactive, not reactive. This training really stretched my thinking about how I need to engage in more proactive social justice initiatives. I find that my voice has strengthened in my coursework discussions at school since this trip. I feel more confident sharing my thoughts about the many trials and tribulations that people are facing in our current climate in America. I believe I am helping to move these discussions towards engaging in proactive action dialogue rather than complaining and feeling hopeless.

One moment in particular that I found quite powerful was at Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Jewish Synagogue in Marquette Park. We arrived just in time for their Shabbat dinner and service. I met 3 sweet little girls named Daja, Morgan, and McKaya. They all had vibrant personalities, and they warmly welcomed us. The girls eagerly told me all about their toys, their schools, their synagogue services, and their favorite things in life; they held my hands as we walked around. I just felt so fulfilled. Nowadays the news has many horrifying stories of hate and hurt, and in this moment I felt nothing but love and possibilities.

Each organization we visited has a mission and they’re all helping many people along the way. The group showed me that there are other teens out there who want to make an impact just as we do. The different communities were all seeking justice and unity for everyone, and that is super important to me.

The sixteen of us who went on this trip stay connected via a group chat. Most of us go to ETHS, and we have a fun game where we take a picture together when we see each other and earn a point on the group chat. I love it! It’s a whole new community in my life.  We have already had two get-togethers since the trip, and another is being planned. Thank you to all of the leaders and congregation members who made the trip possible; it was a life changing experience and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.

The sixteen of us who went on this trip stay connected via a group chat. Most of us go to Evanston Township High School, and we have a fun game where we take a picture together when we see each other and earn a point on the group chat. I love it! It’s a whole new community in my life.  We have already had two get-togethers since the trip, and another is being planned. Thank you to all of the leaders and congregation members who made the trip possible; it was a life changing experience and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.

The first annual Evanston Interfaith Civil Rights trip was organized by Rabbi Andrea London of Beth Emet Synagogue, Pastor Michael Nabors of Second Baptist, and Pastor Daniel Ruen of Grace Lutheran, Evanston. It was organized out of a shared value of teaching our youth about courage, love, and justice. 

“We had expectations that not only would our youth and adults learn more about MLK’s ‘Beloved Community,’ but that they might embody it as an interfaith coalition. They did so in profound ways, and we’re planning for next year’s trip this summer!”  Pastor Daniel Ruen, Grace Lutheran, Evanston, IL.