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Building bridges and bedding: CNS students partner with InterFaith Works to welcome New Americans

On Saturday, January 27, members of the Cicero-North Syracuse (CNS) High School Human Rights Club, along with the school’s 2024 Seal of Biliteracy candidates, came together to volunteer with InterFaith Works of CNY. InterFaith Works is an organization dedicated to affirming the dignity of people and their faith traditions, building racial and religious equity and creating bridges of understanding. 

The collaboration between the organization and CNS is a partnership formed this year by Jessica Keane as the teacher of the school’s new World Culture Exploration course. Representatives from InterFaith Works came to CNS earlier this year to speak to students in the course along with members of the Human Rights Club. 

One of the goals of the World Culture Exploration class is to cultivate respect for all peoples and their cultures, thereby contributing to international understanding and respect. Jessica shares, “With this goal in mind, I wanted to create a partnership where students can make a difference in our local community while connecting with people from cultures different than their own. I wanted to teach the students about respect and understanding while having an opportunity to support New Americans in our community.” 
As part of these efforts, this past Saturday, CNS students gathered together to help set up apartments for New Americans arriving in Syracuse this week. One apartment is for a family of 8 coming from the Congo. They are scheduled to arrive this Wednesday, Jan. 31. In order to get the apartment ready for the family, students set up beds, put dishes in kitchen cupboards, cleaned bathrooms and organized items. 

Jacqueline Hayman is the advisor for the CNS Human Rights Club and was excited to have students from that group involved. Jackie said, “The club is rooted in the work of providing opportunities for students to connect, learn and collaborate with others in our community to help become a force of greater good for all so this collaboration is perfect. The opportunity provided students with the experience of giving, understanding and inspiration to make the spaces around us better for all. It was a beautiful day of hard work and compassion. The students walked away from volunteering with an even greater inspiration to welcome New Americans in our schools and community. A truly beautiful day of learning and growth for all involved.”

Thank you to these students and teachers for taking part in helping new community members as they transition to life in Syracuse!