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The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Courageous Conversations offers chance to discuss important issues

Br. Pedro Mira
Attendees of January’s Courageous Conversation in the Kiszka Suite are introduced to that session’s topic.

In today’s tense world, listening is often a lost skill for many. From sports to politics, it’s common to hear others argue for hours on television, radio, and social media without attempting to actually understand the other party or consider others’ points of view. Mr. Matt Petrich, a theology teacher and MC’s Campus Minister, decided to combat this by organizing Courageous Conversations, a time for juniors and seniors to meet and discuss important topics affecting society. 

“I think it gives someone the experience of listening,” said Mr. Petrich. “It gives you an understanding of the value of listening. We sometimes engage in conversation to prove our point rather than hear and try to understand what someone else says.”

The idea for Courageous Conversations came when Mr. Petrich and Brother Pedro Mira attended a two-day conference at St. Ignatius about building listening skills in the fall of last year. 

The first two group conversations, held in the Kiszka Suite, have been a success, with six students showing up to the first meeting on December 12 and that growing to fourteen students at the most recent session on January 24. Both conversation sessions have focused on a unique and controversial topic, but the environment has allowed students to open up honestly without fear of judgment. The first conversation was focused on the current migrant crisis in Chicago but then expanded to local problems such as public safety and education.

“When we have our conversations [at these meetings], we are teaching others and ourselves how to have actual conversations instead of arguments,” said junior Angelo Correa, who has participated in both sessions.

These conversations allow students to be open with their opinions and beliefs. 

“I think there is this underlying sense of comfortability,” said senior Ryan Gilhooly after attending the January meeting. “Knowing that everyone in the meeting was a brother and coming to try to understand each other.”

These discussions can help students understand the world beyond MC that they will soon be entering. A problem in today’s society is failure to communicate, and Courageous Conversations is allowing students to practice this in a controlled setting. There may be some disagreement during these conversations, but the point of the club is that people’s opinions matter, as does listening to them. 

“I think that it makes others comfortable with their opinions or belief in a proper school setting,” said Correa. “It helps us be better listeners, and when you are a better listener, you are open to other options and you’re not just set in your ways. We have a growth mindset and not a fixed one.”

Mr. Petrich has not yet decided on future topics for the conversations, but many students are giving positive feedback and suggestions for what to talk about next and possibly modifying the structure of the sessions to be more student-led.

With the current polarizing climate that these young men live in, this opportunity is a step toward creating more considerate listeners, which hopefully leads to being better men in our society.

“It’s more than who are you, where are you from,” says Gilhooly, “but a deeper understanding of how social interactions work and what are we doing in the real world.”

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About the Contributor
Jack Breakey '24
Jack Breakey '24, Staff Writer
John “Jack” Breakey is a Senior at Mount Carmel High School. Jack resides on the South Side of Chicago in the Morgan Park neighborhood. He also attended grammar school in the neighborhood at St. Cajetan School.  Jack is a member of Caravan Broadcasting Network as their Senior Producer and also a member of the MC Model UN club and a Peer Leader. Outside of school, he’s a member of the Chicago Fire Department Gold Badge Society. For hobbies, Jack enjoys bike riding, watching movies, playing video games, and researching government. One of Jack’s favorite pastimes is listening to music. He is a large fan of rock and roll, especially Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett, and the genre of bluegrass. This influence came from his father, Thomas Breakey, Mount Carmel class of 1982, and an active Chicago firefighter. His father has been a large inspiration for Jack, who has become a better man because of his father. Jack's dream job is working in international relations or national security. He researches current world events and conflicts while also being a student of history. Who knows? Jack might become the real Jack Ryan one day.