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"This I Believe"

Sunday, January 27, 2019

I want to share some winter-warming sunshine in the form of our 8th graders’ "This I Believe" essays, written this past fall! Reading these essays from students in Cara Will’s humanities class refreshed me this past week, which was a doozy, in a way nothing else could. Our 8th grade ‘seniors’ reminded me about some important values. Every one of these essays is impactful and deserving of our time and attention. They are displayed in the Middle School Atrium, and I encourage you to stop by and read them. Here are excerpts from a few of the essays, with a brief introduction to each, to hopefully entice you to do just that.

To start, as busy adults, how many of us long to ‘let go’ every now and then, yet lament the lack of opportunities? We know, for our own wellness and the wellness of those around us and those we care for, that is precisely what we need to do sometimes: Let go! Play! Release! Burgundy 8th grader Kate in her "This I Believe" essay wrote about the quintessential young person frolic in rolling (oneself) down a hill:

Letting go and being free isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s why I like to have a good roll down the hill. Figuratively and literally rolling down a hill gives my mind a break. Whenever I am stressed out … I just find a hill and roll down it. Surprisingly, it reminds me of peace. I know when you think of rolling down a hill you might think “Ouch! That's gotta hurt your back,” or “Why would you do that? It’s gonna make you dizzy.” But it reminds me of what it’s like to be crazy and free so it gives me peace. When my mind is rolling down a hill that means that I completely block out everything around me and take a couple breaths and get myself together... it’s okay to be a little wild and to not be “perfect” all the time.  

How about the reality that sometimes the limits, guidelines, and structures that adults create for children become helpful habits or even values? Olive wrote:

Turning off my phone for extended periods is a habit developed at camp that has been integrated into my everyday life. Even though I am not completely phone free, I believe it is good to have a break sometimes.

Each person that attends sleepaway camp leaves taking away different values, and one of the greater gifts of these lessons is the ability to share them with others. At first, these values may have been rules or guidelines, but soon they become ideals. (...) When I return from camp I notice when someone gossips a lot more because of the rules I follow for weeks. Putting away my phone has also inspired some of my friends. A few friends have reached out to me telling me how they admire that I can turn off my phone for extended periods and that they thought it would feel good to have a break too. Even if they do not end up turning off their phone, my values make others in my community reassess their own values.

Anjani, in “Exploring Your Roots,” an essay about a visit to her grandparents’ native India, sees the common humanity in all people, in part through the patience she saw exhibited in the teeming streets of India:

Animals were roaming on the streets, and drivers did not follow the street signs or speed limits, but this did not seem to bother anyone. There, everything was very carefree. This was one of the greatest lessons from my trip to India. No one got upset or lost their patience, but everyone was just going with the flow and keeping their cool. Even though a lot of people were doing what they wanted to do, everyone was friendly. When people would honk at each other, it wasn’t a “Move out of my way!” kind of honk, it was more of a “Passing on your right,” sort of thing. It was nice how no one was angry at each other, and I wished that more people in the USA had as much patience.

And finally, Gideon recognizes the power of food and its relationship to identity:

I love to cook with a lot of flavors, so being in a culture where under seasoned food is not a thing, just makes me extremely happy. Cooking is like a language in my family, it is a way we communicate. We always get together for holidays, birthdays, and dinners and just cook traditional Haitian food, which connects to each other and our roots.

In reading this essay, you have probably noticed that cooking is a very big part of my life. Cooking allows me to communicate in a different way. Through presentation, flavors, and amazing smells.