Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth


I am a human being; nothing human can be alien to me. — Terence, Roman playwright and freed African slave

This workshop asks youth to explore the importance of empathy in justice work. Using the example of immigration, youth look through the eyes of those most affected—the immigrants—and examine the importance of empathy for people who are caught in the ripple effects of political and economic systems that are beyond their control.

Participants also discuss the power of words. What assumptions are we making when we use terms like "illegal immigrant"? Alternate activities in the workshop allow youth to examine the root causes of increased Mexican immigration and to increase empathy through meditation.

Be conscious of the background of participants, especially those who might be immigrants or first generation Americans. If strong feelings arise during discussions, bring participants back to the central objectives of the workshop: to explore the role of empathy in justice work and to increase our own ability to empathize.


This workshop will:

  • Identify empathy as a quality needed to bring about a more just world
  • Examine how we can act with empathy in big and small ways
  • Examine how words can demonstrate empathy
  • Connect affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person (first Principle) to fulfilling people's basic needs.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • See empathy as an important quality in justice making and practice being more empathetic
  • Learn what some UUs are doing to make immigration more just
  • Share stories about empathy
  • Practice teaching empathy by example
  • Analyze ways language can influence social justice work
  • Optional: Examine some of the root causes of increased immigration from Mexico.