Ignite 2021 Inspires
Ignite 2021, a collaborative summer conference that trains youth to advocate for a better world, wrapped up last week with more than 60 participants from 10 Jesuit high schools along with adult participants from Jesuit parishes, universities and spiritual ministries. Participants heard from speakers across the Jesuit’s global network, and engaged in training and planning to enhance the leadership of their local service and justice programs for this academic year. Student intern Christian Sigua ’22 shares his highlights and quotes from favorite speakers.
IGNITE 2021 was a fulfilling experience from beginning to end. Despite us being unfamiliar with each other at the beginning, all of us got to know each other through icebreakers and we eventually got involved in breakout rooms. There were also one-on-one sessions where we got to speak to people on a personal level and listen to understand without needing to respond. These sessions really helped me connect with people. Although I was apprehensive at first about speaking one-on-one with people, I ended up enjoying it a lot. It’s really shocking how much you can learn about someone, and how much you can enjoy a simple 30–60 minute conversation. The speakers at IGNITE this year were phenomenal individuals. All of them brought their personal experiences with them and united them under the need to act for our community. One speaker who was touching was Saúl Rascón Salazar. He talked about how recent legislation has impacted him and his brother as Dreamers. This touching story made all of us emotional and called us to action to change the system so that people like his brother, and other people like him, have the opportunity to enter the United States without worry. Rev. Michael McBride, a national leader in gun violence prevention and restorative justice, inspired us to overcome our difficulties to pursue change. He reminded us that without difficulty, there is no sense of achievement, and that challenges are healthy. It helped me recognize my own challenges and motivated me to take them head on.
All in all, the speeches were inspirational and motivational. They were all touching, from closely personal stories, to motivational speeches, to hopeful and uplifting calls to action, and poignant anecdotes. Had it not been for these amazing panelists, IGNITE would be incomplete. There was also an atmosphere of general light-heartedness. And this was understandable, since we became friendly with each other very quickly. It felt good to be in a community of many supportive people who also share the common desire of wanting to do something for their communities at home. I was honestly surprised how quickly we became acquainted; it felt like nothing! At some point, it felt like we had all known each other for way longer than a couple days. This is why IGNITE is great—not only do you get inspiration and motivation from great speakers, but you also meet people who you can connect with on a personal level for much longer thereafter. IGNITE was great all around, and attending it was easily my favorite decision of this summer. I urge everyone reading this to attend next year, as it is certainly more than just meeting people and hearing people talk. It’s inspiring and honestly life-changing if taken seriously. Sincerely, Christian Sigua ’22
[Originally published in Jesuits West CORE electronic newsletter] Due to the pandemic, Sigua‘s internship and the Ignite conference were held virtually. He is pictured back at school, enjoying an afternoon on the Jesuit Sacramento campus.