JRS Hungary inaugurated their new offices in Budapest by hosting a U-CHANGE (Understanding CHANGE) event where a discussion about how European, including Hungarian, high school students’ perception of refugees has changed in recent years took place.
The assistant to the provincial head of the Hungarian Jesuits, Zoltán Koronkai SJ, participated at the event and highlighted: “The way we relate to the little ones, the vulnerable, and the refugees shows the authenticity of our Christianity”. He also underlined that encounters with refugees have the opportunity to enrich and renew the Christian identity.
During the event, Alberto Ares SJ, Regional Director of JRS Europe, presented the U-CHANGE reports and its key findings: (1) CHANGE mobilises learning and critical thinking, (2) some entrenched prejudices remain, (3) the presence of refugee population in classrooms has a big impact, (4) there are three clear student profiles, (5) the context of application is heterogenous and it is not neutral and (6) not all stages have the same participation.
These findings were put into context and discussion within the larger picture with sociologist Csilla Zsigmond, who described the prejudices against certain groups in Hungarian society; Cultural anthropologist Gábor Prihoda, who talked about the role and possibilities of critical thinking in schools; and alternative economist Gergely Tóth, who provided an overview of migration processes in the world based on UN data.
At the end of the event, JRS Hungary’s new offices were named after socially committed Jesuits: the 18th-century South American missionary Dávid Fáy SJ, who worked in the famous reductions, and after his expulsion, he shared the fate of the refugees; the 19th-century African missionary István Czimmermann SJ, who fought against all forms of slavery and ignorance; and the 20th-century missionary József Kráhl SJ, who established aid organizations for refugees in China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The new multifunctional spaces are suitable for individual and group support work as well, as holding training sessions. “Those who come here asking for acceptance and help, the “father’s” house awaits them. Your work and your personal attention are a reflection of God’s fatherhood,” expressed SJ Zoltán Koronkai as he offered a blessing on the employees of the Jesuit Refugee Service and the offices.