Creating a Culture of Encounter
Since the beginning, Pope Francis imagined Scholas as the possibility to offer a concrete answer to the calling of this time, entrusting it the task of teaching based on the openness to others, on listening and gathering the pieces of a divided world and devoid of meaning, to create a new culture, the Culture of Encounter.
"Culture of the encounter" is a call to encouraging people to be fearless in the ways they look beyond themselves to the needs of others.
Today, 21 years after the first experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina, dreamed by the then archbishop of the city, Jorge Bergoglio- now Pope Francis-, and six years after its first steps in this world, Scholas is set up as an International Organization of Pontifical Right with offices in Argentina, Vatican City, Colombia, Spain, Haiti, Italy, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Romania, Japan and Chile, and is present in 190 countries through its network, integrating over four hundred thousand education centers and reaching to over a million children and youngsters across the world.
The story of its origin
At the early XXI century, Argentina with its then archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, was immersed in a deep social, political and economic crisis which resulted in death, poverty and a universal cry “may they all just go away”. In the midst of chaos and hopelessness disguised as absolute indifference, Bergoglio gathered teachers José María del Corral and Enrique Palmeyro and gave them the mission to listen to the hearts of the young, because a new culture can only be born from there, from their pains. This proposal transformed diversity into its greatest asset, bearer of trust and beauty.
They formed the first group of students from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Evangelic schools both public and private, including members from diverse neighborhoods of the city who identified the education system as the source of their main pain, since they considered education was detached from their lives. However, this group of teenagers decided not to give up or get stagnated in complaints, they therefore submitted before the legislature a proposal that was unanimously voted became Law 2.169 “Buenos Aires, Educational City”.
This original group of 70 ended the year with seven thousand teenagers, who, without knowing, gave origin to Scholas.
“Scholas senses that that is what education is about. An education that opens up a door to the unknown, which takes us to those places where waters haven’t split yet, so that from there we can dream about new paths” - Pope Francis
Scholas is a call to listen to life, so that from there we can create a culture to celebrate it. It’s education that teaches to find oneself and find one another, to grab the sense created in that encounter.
We were taught we should “have” things, acquire knowledge, tools, degrees to “do”, work, produce, prove so that- eventually only a few- we can be someone in life. This equation, besides postponing and conditioning oneself, subjects us to a mold, or category with which either you fit or you are discarded.
Scholas breaks with this logic by educating based on listening the “Being”, that unique and beautiful characteristic that composes what we are, so that “doing” means creation, the expression of oneself, and finally celebrate “having” which since it matches who I am, needs no more or no less.
When Games, Arts and Thinking are capable of listening and expressing this reality, they become Scholas education language, and all its experiences are an attempt to embody this intuition.
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