Beyond borders: an invitation to personal and spiritual growth

As a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition, CBC Fremantle is part of a global network committed to transformational education for justice and liberation around the world. As part of this world-wide fraternity, Edmund Rice schools engage in opportunities and activities that encourage students to bring the Gospels to life, walking in Jesus' footsteps and helping to make the world a better place.

Edmund Rice Education Beyond Borders (EREBB) is an international community that provides opportunities for students to open their hearts and minds to a deeper understanding of the privileges of their own lives, resulting in a far greater appreciation of their position in the world and of those around them.

These invitations to deep personal and spiritual growth can allow the boys to see the face of God in people living in circumstances that can be challenging and confronting. By participating in the CBC Immersion programmes to Kiwirrkurra, the Philippines and Peru, students have experienced this first hand by walking in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in humanity, hearing their stories and creating an unbreakable bond of understanding and respect.

In travelling to unfamiliar locations in different countries and isolated areas, students step outside their comfort zones and are removed from external influences that may prevent the full immersive experience. Accompanied by CBC teachers and mentors, often working alongside people who have devoted their lives to service in the communities, the boys are inspired to be independent, accountable and resilient and to respond to the challenge to be leaders and cultural ambassadors.

Guided reflections are an essential element that separates CBC Immersions from cultural tours, with group discussions examining Gospel Values and Jesus' teachings in the light of new understandings, building hope and compassion and planting seeds of change for a better world.

These Beyond Borders experiences are not isolated from life at the College; rather, Immersions complement and expand on classroom learnings, including Religion and Life studies and the Year 9 Rite Journey programme. On a daily basis at school, the young men of CBC are encouraged to consider actions that may impact on the exploitation of marginalised people, and to challenge popular beliefs about consumerism, commercialism, environmental and climate issues, race and cultural differences and the objectification of women, which can be understood in deeper and more meaningful ways following an Immersion. These realisations break down barriers, fostering a culture of acceptance and love for the 'other', building a message of peace, hope and inclusion that goes beyond boundaries, beyond religion and beyond self-interest.

Guardians of the galaxy

Building world-wide social networks is a particular strength of Gen Z, the cohort who has had internet technology available from almost the moment they were born. With information constantly at their fingertips, tomorrow's leaders are continuously engaged in political and social conversations, whether they know it or not. Their ubiquitous online interactions mean they are more likely to accept racial, sexual and religious diversity than previous generations and have a finely developed social consciousness. 

Worldwide student-led initiatives concerning gun control and, closer to home, demonstrations about climate change highlight the urge to go beyond screens and connect face-to-face about their concerns and political enterprises. These developing young adults are desperate for meaningful real-life interactions and are yearning to actively engage with their peers in helping their troubled planet as they take on the mantle of being stewards of the Earth.

Of course, this commitment to the common good is not new. Previous generations also engaged in political and social campaigns that had radical repercussions throughout the world. However, no group has had access to such incredible networking, which has left the technologically savvy teens of today grappling with social media's potentially destructive powers. It comes as no surprise that strong opinions and confident online conversations have also created an environment where stress, anxiety and depression are becoming increasingly prevalent. 

Today's challenge for leaders at all levels, from local football clubs to global superpowers, is to engage young people and break through the superficiality of the online age. EREBB is a gateway to this transformation. Collectively, we encourage tomorrow's gentlemen to maintain connections with real life, real relationships and real issues; we create a profound shift in awareness so their default reaction is empathy and selflessness, and we hope to display God's love by every deed.

This transformation is supported and enhanced by every aspect of the CBC journey, which recognises justice and peace as the tools for building a better world, and that selflessness, service and recognition of each persons' human dignity are the necessary ingredients for a happy and successful life.