Project ‘Traveling Suitcase’ is visiting schools across Brazil
To establish closer integration between the schools of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJ) in the country, St. Louis School, in Brusque, started the ‘Traveling Suitcase’ project with the institution’s 1st grade students. The 57 students in three classes took part in the activity, inspired by the parable of the Good Samaritan.
“We organized ourselves around an idea that was genuinely playful, and that’s how the project started. Dehonzinho, our character inspired by the founder of the SCJ Congregation, Father John Leo Dehon, carries a suitcase containing a story about being available,” says the project’s creator, teacher Ivana Pühler.
According to the teacher, availability is one of Father Dehon’s virtues, which is already taught as a value for the first graders. “While building the suitcase, each child had the opportunity to practice availability in their own way,” she says.
As part of the project, the students watched a story about the Good Samaritan, considering the values of the chosen virtue. “They learned what availability is, and the importance of being open to helping others, without expecting anything in return,” explains the teacher.
All the teachers contributed to the theme in a cross-curricular style. In Physical Education, the students performed cooperative activities in groups, where they learned to respect each other’s differences and limitations. In Religious Education, the teacher presented the parable of the Good Samaritan through a comic book. In Music class, the students learned a song about the subject, and in the English class, they discussed the topic in their second language.
Finally, in Arts class, the students painted a canvas with birds flying together, also in reference to availability. The canvas was also used to make a symbolic donation among the families, and the funds raised will be used to buy diapers for the ‘Menino Deus’ Home (Inclusive Foster Care residence for the disabled). “This action is the result of what is being proposed, which is to give without expecting anything in return,” says the teacher.
All the activities conducted in Brusque were recorded in the suitcase’s logbook, which was closed and sent to Curitiba for the ESIC International students. There, the students also carried out a number of activities on the theme of the Good Samaritan. The suitcase then traveled to São Paulo, to the São Judas Tadeu Institute. Finally, the suitcase headed to the Our Lady of Fatima School in Recife, Pernambuco. In the upcoming weeks, the project should return to Brusque, with the possibility of traveling again, first to Chile and then to the United States.
“As we receive videos and photos of the activities in other schools we share them in the classroom and the children are very excited. It’s very surprising to see the variety of experiences, because each school has come up with something different.”
Teacher Ivana says that leading the ‘Traveling Suitcase’ project has been very rewarding. “I didn’t imagine it would have so many significant results, with such good feedback from the children. It was challenging, because helping without expecting something in return is difficult at that age group, but we designed it in a playful way, accomplishing good results”
For the principal of St. Louis School, Father Silvano João da Costa, the ‘Traveling Suitcase’ was created with the purpose of bringing human values that strengthen social relationships. “It is a communion between the Dehonian schools, firstly in Brazil, but that could spread to other schools of the Congregation around the world. The project brings us closer together and strengthens our bonds. The ‘Traveling Suitcase’ spreads values and brings us experiences and actions, thoughts and reflections that encourage us to do something good and inspire others,” said the principal.