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Highs and Lows

Ups and downs. Successes and failures. Highs and lows. Contrasts… We are told these are, in fact, healthy and necessary in our development, our ability to adapt, and to become resilient. I heard this recently in a webinar, and that we actually shouldn’t want everything to be even, the same, flat-lined – because then we’d be dead.

Glad to know it’s necessary, and even healthy – because there always seems to be some ups and downs going on for us here at Trinity. Take this past weekend…

The high?: “Youth are always engaged, it’s just a matter of what we are engaged in.” – Abigail Laulman, Trinity peer leader alumnus

We attended the People for Education conference “Making Connections” on Saturday. Two of our Peer Leader alumnae were on a “Building Student Engagement” panel in an afternoon session. What a thrill to witness the articulate and passionate voices of Saarah Tennakoon and Abigail Laulman as they expressed the need for “honest connections (between adults and youth in the school community), and comfortable spaces where youth can feel heard.” Their poise and wise counsel swept the adult audience away.

Their main messages?

Relationships with teachers really build students- so make connections on a personal level.

It’s extremely important that teachers don’t underestimate their power – students need to know that teachers are there for them.

Every interaction is internalized – use that power to inspire.

Teachers are like second parents- let the students know there is someone who cares for them.

And don’t underestimate the students! Believe in them. Connect with their experiences.

So very proud to be able to say Trinity had a hand in engaging these empowered young women to learn and grow.

But in the very same weekend that we were feeling so elated, we also were brought face-to-face with the low. While perusing Facebook to check for postings from the People for Education conference, I came across a reference to one of our Peer Leaders in a post referring to how eloquently she spoke at a funeral. A quick Google search revealed that the funeral this Peer Leader gave a eulogy at was, in fact, her own mother’s. My heart sank so quickly. How is it that between our Training Day at her school in early October and this weekend in early November, such a sorrowful event had happened? We knew from working with her during the summer Leadership Lab that her mom lived with ALS. We knew that she carried a body of lived compassion and wisdom, borne out of her day-to-day caretaking role at home. But I wished we could have been able to let her know during the dark days of death, arrangements and funeral that she was in our thoughts and prayers… I quickly sent off a message of condolence via Facebook Messenger, followed by a card by mail. I look forward to the next workshop training – so I can give her a hug.

Alan and I at Trinity advocate practicing sympathy, empathy and compassion. It’s one thing to talk about it – and quite easy when you are on a ‘high/up’ at a conference, swelled with pride because of our Peer Leader presenters. It is quite another to actually know what to do, when you want to show compassion, when you want to know how to truly support someone who is ‘low/down’ and is grieving. Few of us experience the loss of our mother when we are in our teens. What do I say to this Peer Leader? I don’t think we have to know what say – certainly not platitudes. I always figured what Trinity best upholds is that we be there for one another and that we be kind.

So after a weekend of contrasts, I want our Peer Leaders to know that they will always have our love and support as they draw upon their innate resilience and go forward in their lives – through the ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures.

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    Trinity provides experiential and integrated learning using the arts and intergenerational interactions to foster peer leadership, personal development and community resilience.

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