Schoolchildren travel Underground Railroad

Students receive historical experience through new program spawned from theology course | November 14, 2002

Schoolchildren from Evanston and Norwood are discovering what it might have been like to be on the Underground Railroad today, Nov. 14, as part of a first-time program that grew out of a theology course offered at the University. Walker Gollar, associate professor of theology, teaches the course, God on the Underground Railroad. During the first part of the course, Xavier students taught the children in their schools about the Underground Railroad. Now 40 fifth-graders from Sharpsburg Elementary School in Norwood and Parham Elementary School in Evanston continue their journey on campus to experience firsthand what they learned. They are being divided into "family clusters" of about eight students each. Three Xavier students work with each cluster, using maps to follow approximately 10 stations along the University’s academic mall. At each station the schoolchildren receive clues or instructions on how to get to the next station. The instructions might include conducting a three-legged race to get to the next station or walking there in silence. "We’re bringing the children together at Xavier to experience the spirit of cooperation, faith and exploration," Gollar says. "They will also experience the nervousness and anxiety of meeting strangers on such an adventure. We also hope the children will reflect on what they learned from the experience, even their fears, in addition to how their experience was like or not like being on the Underground Railroad." The project continues on Dec. 12, when the children reunite at the University television center to tape a newscast based on their Underground Railroad experience. Parents are invited to this event. For more information on the children’s Underground Railroad experience, contact Walker Gollar at 513 745-4373 or Kelly Leon, director of external relations, at 513 745-3877 or 513 235-3836.