Xavier Magazine

Song of India

Jeff Hutchinson first heard the call of India when studying world religions in high school. It grew stronger during his years at the University, particularly when the 1998 graduate listened to theology professor Paul Knitter recount his own personal and spiritual transformations in the East. But it wasn’t until this past summer that Hutchinson, now a religion and social justice teacher at Cincinnati’s McNicholas High School, made the trip himself. He was one of six teachers nationwide selected by the Frontiers of Justice program, a collaborative between Catholic Relief Services and the National Catholic Educational Association, to visit the country.

Hutchinson spent two weeks in teeming cities like Calcutta and Delhi, as well as in rural areas, including one village so isolated that residents couldn’t recall any previous visits by foreigners. The sum total of what he saw—from grassroots educational efforts to programs aimed at stemming the rising tide of AIDS—left him with an impression of a solidarity rare in the West. It’s also given him ideas for helping his own students open the door to greater commitment and compassion in their own lives. “It renewed my sense of hope,” he says. “Everywhere we went, we witnessed people literally laying down their lives for one another. It issued us a challenge to continue to search ourselves more.”

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