UNDERSTANDING ONE’S RELATIONSHIP TO--AND CAPACITY TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON--THE MOST PRESSING CHALLENGES FACING OUR SOCIETY IS A NECESSARILY DYNAMIC PROCESS. THUS, THE BEST PLACES TO ENGAGE IN THIS WORK ARE IN PLACES THAT ARE THEMSELVES DYNAMIC--PLACES THAT ARE IN TRANSITION, THAT ARE WORKING TO CHANGE, ADAPT, AND TRANSFORM THEMSELVES FOR SURVIVAL IN A CHANGING WORLD.
IT IS OUR PURPOSE AND MISSION AT LREI TO GRADUATE CITIZENS WHO ARE READY TO ENGAGE IN SHAPING THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES, WHO BELIEVE IN THEIR CAPACITY TO AFFECT CHANGE FOR THE FUTURE, AND WHO KNOW THAT THEY CAN AND SHOULD BE A PART OF THAT PROCESS. WE BELIEVE THE TIME SPENT OBSERVING, LEARNING ABOUT, AND WORKING ALONGSIDE COMMUNITIES IN TRANSITION IS ESSENTIAL TO CULTIVATING THESE QUALITIES IN OUR STUDENTS.
The fall Trip Labs created time and space for the eleventh graders to give voice to the important social issues that they saw as impacting their world and our nation’s cities. Then through a process involving brainstorming, research, debate, presentation and consensus building, the students were called on to arrive at a set of organizing issues around which trips to one or more cities would be designed. Here, students teach their peers in the PAC, covering a wide range of socially relevant topics including immigration, border policy, and family separation. #lreilearns
Austin: Abortion & Crisis Pregnancy Centers
How do the policies around abortion affect the lives of women from both the pro-choice and pro-life perspectives?
Louisiana Gulf Coast: Impact of Sea Level Rise
What are the primary causes of sea level rise and what is its impact on communities of various racial and ethnic backgrounds? How does political divide affect the allocation of resources across communities and the government's ability to address the issue effectively?
Los Angeles: Homelessness and Gentrification
What factors have contributed to the rapid rise in homelessness in the L.A. area and how has this issue been addressed in recent years? What are the ways different organizations and agencies are dealing with the homelessness crisis?
Harlan Co., KY: Rural Economies & Political Ideology
What unique issues do rural communities face in the midst of economic transition and how are those issues being addressed? What impact do these issues have on the political ideology of rural communities?
Brownsville: Immigration & Border Policy
How can we understand the impact of the Trump administration’s “America First” rhetoric and policies on the lives of undocumented immigrants? What effects do these xenophobic policies have on attitudes towards immigrants?
New Orleans: Criminal Justice: Mass Incarceration
How does the political rhetoric of being “tough on crime” affect the function of the court. system? How does the function of the court system disproportionately impact communities of color?
Junior Class Trip shifts to Kentucky. LREI students met with Harlan County High School to help spearhead an effort to build transitional housing. As part of the visit, students shared stories of their disparate experiences growing up in NYC and rural Appalachia. Quotes from the dinner table conversation of the 11th grade trip studying rural economies in Harlen County, KY:
"I’ve just learned so many things that I didn’t even know I could know about."
"Everyone should do this."
"I feel like saying “life changing," It is so cliche but it is!"
"They had a wiffle ball game with kids from Harlan County High School. Those relationships were astounding. So much was broken down."
Rural Economies & Political Idealogies in Harlan Co, Kentucky: "Tuesday: We met with students in Harlan County High School’s web development class in which students design and maintain websites for businesses and nonprofits across the country, learning tech skills while also earning money for their work. The program is part of a regional effort to leverage schools as engines of economic development. Also part of the visit: Students spent time sharing stories about their disparate experiences growing up in NYC and rural Appalachia."
Homelessness & Gentrification, Los Angeles: "This photo is from our tour of Ascencia homeless shelter in Glendale, after which we had a round table discussion with Ascencia Americorps volunteers, and representatives from two other partner organizations- YWCA, who works with victims of domestic violence, and Doors of Hope, who focus on homelessness outreach and prevention."
Impact of Sea Level Rise, Louisiana Gulf Coast: "We started in New Orleans to learn about one if the most memorable storms in recent history, to understand what it looks like in that context, and then moved from the city to the regions on the coast that are being inundated. This picture shows students getting a tour of the Superdome where New Orleans residents sheltered after Hurricane Katrina."
Abortion & Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Austin: "Spent the morning learning about the narrative on the "other side" of the aisle. Texas Alliance for Life showed us the Capitol and talked about some of the bills they are sponsoring. Students found this to be a valuable experience for understanding a different perspective."
Criminal Justice: Mass Incarceration, New Orleans: "We learned about how critical the first 72 hours are after an incarcerated person is released from prison. Rising Foundations is a grassroots organization that helps formerly incarcerated men, who have no safety net to fall back on, find their way in a world that has changed significantly since they entered prison. The organization was started by and is run by formerly incarcerated men."
Immigration & Border Policy, Brownsville: "On Wednesday we cooked 80 meals for families seeking asylum and waiting to cross in Matamoros, Mexico. With our community partner, Team Brownsville, we pulled our food in wagons across the border, served families, played soccer with some of the children, and walked back across to the U.S."