Put Yourself in Someone’s Shoes

Drake Markham

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No matter how hard we try, it is impossible to know what it is like to be blind unless you actually are. This reality makes it difficult to be in solidarity with those who are visually impaired.

To not be able to see the world and everything it has to offer puts a person at a severe disadvantage. Just because they have a disadvantage, though, does not mean they do not get to enjoy life. Thanks to people like Alexander Brown, the executive director at Friedman Place (an assisted living facility for the blind), the visually impaired have more of an opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.  

This year, Loyola Academy is recognizing April 1st as a day of Solidarity. Classes will not be in session, as students are asked to participate in and attend various presentations that will be held all throughout the day. Alexander Brown will be at Loyola to educate students on technology that benefits those who are visually impaired. When asked what his goal is by the end of the day, Brown said, “I hope for the attendees to have a better understanding of people who are blind and/or disabled, how technology is and will impact on them, and how I as a person ended up in my role.”

If learning about technology for the blind does not seem like something you would be interested in, Mr. Knoth, one of Loyola’s campus ministers, scheduled a diverse variation of speakers and activities. When asked about how this year’s diversity day is different than things they have done in the past, he said, “we’re switching gears this year and trying to find ways in which everyone can have perspective.” Mr. Knoth spent nearly a year planning this day and made sure there is something for everyone to enjoy. He explained how technology is so relevant in our world today that he and other people thought it would be a good idea to make that the common theme.

Not only are teachers and professionals involved, but students are involved with some of the workshops as well. Senior Emma Huettl, a member of Honors Sociology in action, is presenting a documentary she made about RefugeeOne, an agency for refugee families in Chicago. Her video features real stories and examples that will hopefully educate students on the agony of  immigration for millions of people.

When asked what solidarity means to her, Huettl replied, “solidarity means understanding the plight of others. Many Loyola students will never experience the fear of fleeing a dangerous country and coming to an entirely new one, and I believe solidarity is the essence of understanding and appreciating such an experience.” Huettl said her view of solidarity changed after working with these people and she hopes her documentary will positively affect people the same way.

Solidarity day has been largely publicized at Loyola, as the goal is to get as many students to attend as possible. Senior Matthew Engels, a very involved student at Loyola, is still unsure if he will attend. Many other students are in Engels’ same position. People like Mr. Knoth and participating students like Emma Huettl are trying their hardest to raise attendance.

Engels said he has heard many good things about the upcoming presentations from teachers and other students. Engels said, “I have heard about an Abbott Labs genetic research presentation from my biology teacher. I think this would be interesting because I will continue exploring it through college.” Not only will these presentations help students gain a new perspective, but they could provide students with information that will be useful to them in the future.

This photo was taken off of Friedman Place’s Facebook. Friedman place is a assisted living facility in Chicago for those who are visually impaired.

It is important that students attend this day of solidarity in order to gain a new perspective on certain battles most Loyola students do not have to face. There will be many people like Mr. Brown on April 1st who are willing to provide students with as much knowledge and information as possible, in order to help students make the most of this day.