Inward Reflection to Outward Sharing, Feeding our Global Community
Bringing connection and energy to an online platform, our GYLI staff, coordinators and a few board members gathered via Zoom to ask, “How are you?” with an intention to listen deeply to one another. We pondered our effectiveness in delivering meaningful online lessons. Across the world, people collectively are doing the same thing – social distancing in the time of COVID-19 – making this a shared experience. It is the building block for empathetic connection.
Deciding what is core curricular content is important, but no less so than demonstrating care and concern. Ask ‘How are you’, ‘What are you experiencing’, and ‘How may I support you’ and have the grace to know that alone may be enough. Being empathetic and offering reassurance can be the consistent thread in a time of upheaval – and knowing that when we can return to a physical space, the community we build from afar can celebrate grounded gratitude and place of belonging if we prioritize the values and mission we believe in.
Honoring our core pillars, we can let our curiosity engage us to seek multiple perspectives. How is COVID-19 impacting us around the world? How might we incorporate environmentally sustainable practices at home? Can we reduce waste, practice minimalism, begin composting or plant seeds for a garden? Or, taking it further, what are the components missing from our communities that this current situation has helped identify? In what ways are we building inclusive communities? Are we collaboratively leading with intentionality? Are the systems of support – in advising, in parent programming, in faculty development – positioned to meet the current need in alignment with our pillars?
The value we have for community continues to bubble over in our collective psyche. It’s crystalizing. Our longtime partner Kestral from the Lama Foundation said it best. “My hope is that this focus on our connection with one another can endure well beyond this crisis. That maybe this radical disruption of homeostasis and business-as-usual will prompt some much needed collective reflection on what is actually worth returning to in our sense of “normalcy” and what perhaps we could do without.” Indeed.
Turn on the news, and you become inundated with information. Scroll through your phone, and you can succumb to the hypnotic continuum of the overwhelm. The weight of the moment, the responsibilities we shoulder lay heavy on us. To care for one another, we must embrace ourselves with kindness and remind ourselves of who we are. Sit in gratitude, love yourself, inspire, breathe in to let go so we may connect and give back.
I am reminded of what we ask of our students during our GYLI programming. At Lama, we encourage Solo Time. We make time in the schedule for that quiet, inner reflection. We ask students to tap into their own central nervous system. We ask them to get to know themselves, to value themselves, and to lead by their strengths. It opens the door to a deeper connected community. Guiding the practice for inward reflection is where we must meet the moment.
Let our stillness now offer time to envision new ways of being. We are brave, creative, and inventive. We can gain practice with vulnerability by learning how to do something for the first time and making mistakes, and maybe not being very good at it, but leaning in and trying anyway. We are free to learn new skills, tackle home-projects, start a blog, record that audiobook, produce a podcast, post daily meditations, and reach out to old friends.
If we create from an honest space, we are living the message that we are global, but small all at once. Spectacular all by ourselves, yet when we share from a place of vulnerability, we are bonded together in a global community. Living contentedly, we are collaboratively leading in service to each other. We inspire others to continue in service to their communities. Our circle cycles and grows. In this way, we can reset and redefine ways to live in community with one another.
As parents and teachers, we can have a lasting impact. Just as Fred Rogers mother’s words to “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,” offered guidance for Mr. Rogers, we have the opportunity to step into the challenge, to model working through vulnerability, trusting we are each doing our best, and letting our values guide us forward. We are one and global all at once, each of us together.
GYLI is headquartered at Lake Forest Academy where we are fortunate to have the guidance of Head of School, José De Jesús. He reminds us that a school is always more than its buildings. I believe he’s right. We are the buildings that make our schools and our mission. We plant the seeds that place and extend our community wherever we are. Both small and global, trusting as we embody our values that we create and define community. Our virtual spiritual presence can water and sun the seeds of this coming togetherness. Let us be the starter seeds for our growing community garden, in all its beautiful varieties and spectrums.