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AIS-R Takes Compassionate Action Through Note Writing
By Sophia Campbell & Natalia Mazhar, Grade 9 High School Students 14-Oct-18
At the American International School - Riyadh (AIS-R), High School Exploratory Advisory students were given the opportunity to take action on an issue about which we felt strongly. Instead of tackling an out-of-reach global issue, we decided to focus on our local community: our classmates. In Ms. Albert’s Advisory, we recognized that Grade 9 is separated into various groups that do not always socialize with each other. We wanted to change that. We tackled this student “clique” issue by writing personalized notes to each student in Grade 9 with the goal of building community and showing each person that they are noticed, accepted, and appreciated for who they are. After completing the project within our advisory, we realized that we forgot about one of the most important parts of the AIS-R community—our teachers! So we extended this project by writing notes to all of the high school teachers and principals. As global citizens, we wanted to build a stronger, more united community; one where students, teachers, and community members support and care for one another. This effort connects with this year’s school theme, “Think Compassion,” as students are working to make each of our classmates feel like they are a part of AIS-R and that they belong. Our advisory discussions have centered on exploring multiple perspectives and nurturing a growth mindset, which gave us the framework for our idea. When reflecting on the AIS-R Eagle Honor Code and the importance of demonstrating respect and seeking to understand others, we thought about how we would feel if someone took the time out of their day to write something kind and compassionate to us. While creating our action plan we found that, according to Stanford Medicine, “Humans have a natural capacity for compassion. However, everyday stress, social pressures, and life experiences can suppress it.” We recognized that with the constant stress around school and learning, it would be nice to just stop, take a breath, and read something nice about ourselves from someone else. Additionally, being compassionate includes an “empathetic urge that leads to an impactful action,” and while we do not yet know if we made a lasting impact, our desire to build a stronger connection with each other continues to drive us to make a sustainable difference at school and beyond. By engaging in this compassionate note writing project and by recognizing and appreciating the strengths of each individual, we are determined to bring Grade 9 and the school community closer together. The two of us intend to continue writing positive notes to our classmates and teachers, and we hope that through our actions we will encourage others to do the same. This article was written under the guidance of Elizabeth Albert, High School Social Studies Teacher, and Tyler Morningstar, Director of Community Development.Reference: “Why Cultivate Compassion?” The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford Medicine, 4 May 2016, ccare.stanford.edu/education/about-compassion-cultivation-training-cct/why-cultivate-compassion/. Accessed 6 May 2018.
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