Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Towards the Recognition of

Non-discrimination Principles at School

This section of the I Have Rights portal provides administrative information for the project contractual partners and for the European Commission and it is password protected.

Case Studies

Homepage > CaseStudies > Case Studies

60 case studies have been identified. The case studies focus on intercultural issues, integration, non-discrimination values and human rights at school.

Back to the Case Studies List

"In the footsteps of Pope Francis" : Journey to Assisi, Rome and Lampedusa with students. The migrants and us.


Name of the teacher
Robin Durieux
Subject taught:
Deputy director for religious activities and for the Humanitarian Aid and Solidarity department
Years of experience:
10 years working at NDLR, 23 years working in schools and 12 years in community 10 years working at NDLR, 23 years working in schools and 12 years in community engagement


Name of the School:
Institution Notre Dame La Riche
School Typology:
Lower Secondary School, Upper Secondary School, Vocational School
Tours, France


Background and Context:
The school includes an elementary school (400 students), a lower secondary school (420), a vocational school (300), a general and technical high school (450) and a training delivering BTS degrees (300), all of which accounts for about 1850 students. In 2018, 2300 students total are expected with the opening of a hotel and catering school.

Notre Dame La Riche is a school that is open to socially vulnerable groups; it does not keep to itself. It is traditionnally open to low-income families of the Tours-Ouest/La Riche neighborhood. The students of the primary and vocational school have very diverse origins; in the general high school, they are less different, but the social and ethnical background of the whole school remains varied.

The school includes a special plan that welcomes young people in difficulty: an "Evening High School" for young adults who want to prepare for the baccalaureate, a Mini-High-School for dropout students, and a "Rebound Class" (a class that allows disruptives and challenging students to study separately for a while in order to avoid school expulsion).

Out of the 14 students who participated in the project, one student was of Syrian origin, and another one was of Ivorian origin.
Factual Description:
The preparation of the project began in January 2015. The goal was to plan a trip to the cities of Assisi and Rome, then to the island of Lampedusa, in order to learn more about the migrants and the way that this country, and the Church in particular, handles their arrival. Lampedusa and its inhabitants are notoriously known for their long tradition of welcoming migrants.
14 high school students left Tours on October 22nd, led by four supervisors. The journey lasted one week including three days in Lampedusa. Then the school received many testimonies (80) between November 2015 and June 2016.

Before this project, very few discrimination issues had been observed in the school, if not none. Diversity is indeed a big part of the culture of this school, which has been noticed in Tours as the most open on this subject. The students do not seem to take ethnicity into account when forming their relationships. The families looking for social uniformity choose other "Catholic" schools.
The relationships between the educational staff and the national and immigrant parents are good.

The refugees crisis in Europe was discussed among the students. They felt a sense of powerlessness and irritation at the way the media cover this issue. This made the students and the project staff want to understand what was happening and not be "left out" of the migration issues. For Mr Durieux, among other things, it was about "daring to face this great problem without claiming to be able to solve it, yet not being afraid of addressing it."

The journey was organized by investigating then directly contacting all the partners. The 14 students involved all had something to do in the organization and had to bring the results of their work to others in preparatory meetings: that way, the students worked on national asylum laws, European laws, migration statistics, routes, reading notes on "El Dorado" by Laurent Gaudé, the mayor of Lampedusa, the Pope's speeches, the role of Pontifical Councils...
The stay in Lampedusa, in particular, was coached by Germano Garratto, Special Envoy of the Italian Church, who coordinated all the meetings.
Activities carried out:
The students and Mr Durieux started their journey in the city of Assisi (1 day):
- discussion on the Church's position on intercultural and inter-religious relationships

They went to Rome next:
- meeting with Monsignor Etchegaray, former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
- meeting with the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Refugees
- Stations of the Cross to the Colosseum and meeting with the worldwide Gypsy pilgrimage

They finally went to the island of Lampedusa, where they met various local participants in the support of migrants:
- the parish and the vicar Don Mimmo
- 2 local NGOs : Amici dei bambini ( and Mediterranean Hope (
- the Askavusa collective (
- Mrs Nicolini, the mayor of Lampedusa
They also read the historical archives of the island, and had the opportunity to listen to the story of a fisherman who saved 18 people during a shipwreck.
All of this was followed by testimonies, reflections and an analysis of the situation.
The students did not personally meet migrants, except for one young man in Rome; indeed in Lampedusa, because of the Mare Nostrum operation, the migrants were sent to Sicily instead during two weeks.

For the students and Mr Durieux, this journey was described as "fundamental".
The students returned with great motivation to testify, speak the truth about what they saw and respond to the chaotic image that the media give of the island: receiving the migrants remains a difficult task, but the population of Lampedusa is strongly involved and never hostile.

The students wrote 4 guideline laws, which were then presented to a European parliamentary group in Strasbourg, and they testified twice to the Bishops' Conference of France.
They all said that something in them has profoundly changed: they acquired some very strong humanist convictions, and feel that they belong to a large, universal family that does not put people into categories any more.
Some changed their post-high school course choices (Sciences Po, international law...). Others see more precisely how they can link their future job to humanitarian work (medicine, management...).

Among the parents, only one family did not allow their daughter to participate in the project. The others were very trustful and thankful, especially for the remarkable maturity acquired by their children.

Here is Mr Durieux's personal conclusion:
"In the chaos of the world, in its violence or madness, it is always possible to identify with something, to find the right place to express one's beliefs, and bring openness and "the good news". Christians, humanists and good willed people must take their place bravely, without fear, among the most important challenges of our society. We cannot let politicians, administrative officers, health workers or security officers be the only people in direct contact with migrants. I would go so far as to say that our civilization is in danger if we fail to create peaceful coexistence with migrants; that is when all our values would collapse, when we would become traitors to our international conventions, when democracies would lose their credibility and cease to be an alternative model to dictatorships and extremism. Contrary to what protectionist/xenophobic doctrines say, we do not lose our identity by welcoming Others, but by turning them away. If we accept other people, we save our values and our civilization, as well as save them from war.
Assessment and lesson learnt:
Following this journey, teachers are lending more credibility to pastoral suggestions; some have included them into their programs.
Furthermore, three teachers have requested a transfer to Notre Dame La Riche, in order to be able to "work in a school that is able to organize projects like this".
The school director gave Mr Durieux the direction of a Humanitarian Aid and Solidarity department at all levels of the school.
Students went on a second trip to the Grande-Synthe refugee camp in February 2017, which is the continuation of the journey to Lampedusa and the beginning of the work of the Solidarity department.

Mr Durieux remained in touch with Mr Germano Garatto. Following the journey to Lampedusa (the students were the first group to come under these conditions), Mr Garatto is working on planning "retreat and discovery" group trips to Lampedusa: significant experiences combining political and humanist exploration of the migrants issues, discovery of the reserve of the island, and spiritual reflection on how meeting with migrants can be a major personal change. He is planning one of these trips for French-speaking people. He thinks that this type of journey is a true basis for community involvement.

As with any project, Mr Durieux thinks that this journey can be done if one is "driven" by a purpose. To stay in Lampedusa, he recommends getting in touch with Mr Germano Garatto, for any school that is looking to organize a major event in the support of migrants and bring its staff together around these issues.
Description of the Case Study in National Language:

Follow us

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.