Whole School Workshop Day and World @ Lunch

October 26, 2016 | Girls’ College

#Stand!

On Wednesday the 19th of October, the Girls’ College held a whole day school workshop. We have held a number of these over the years and they have always proved to be valuable and interesting days. The purpose of this workshop was to decide what we #Stand! for by answering two questions: What do we want? What can we give?  

Girls wearing T-shirts representing their unique strength and characteristic

Facilitated by Leadership Director, Ruth Everson, the workshop started off in the gym where the whole school (excluding the Grade 12s, who are on study leave), gathered together.  On that day, we had all been asked to wear something that represented what we felt to be symbolic of our unique strength or characteristic. We watched a short clip from Kung Fu Panda 3, where Po realises that in order to defend the village, each panda needs to develop his or her own unique gift. As a school, we had already identified our own slice of genius; now it was time to match our strengths to another’s need.

Girls displaying themes that they felt were most needed

Every grade, and the staff, was given a sheet of coloured paper, a different colour for each group. On the corner of the page, we wrote down the thing that we felt we most needed. Things such as tolerance, confidence, self-esteem, the need for a safe zone and no racism were common themes. We swapped papers, keeping the same colours but taking someone else’s need.  We then broke into fourteen groups. Each group was led by the chair and deputy of the different vertical committees. This session started with a proper baraza style discussion, where staff and girls spoke and were heard equally. The girls did a fantastic job of facilitating these discussions. We spoke about our strengths and how we could use those strengths to meet the need written on the piece of paper that we had received. At the end of the discussion, we all wrote a pledge in which we promised to use our strength to meet another’s need.

Girls presenting to the school

In the second part of this session, each group had to put together a presentation that would demonstrate to the rest of the school what had been discussed and what had been promised. There was a great deal of laughter and fun as we hastily learnt songs, improvised music and put together our presentations. Again, our girls were fantastic. They all rose to the challenge. The staff also entered into the fun and played their part along with the girls.  Many of the groups worked through break in order to perfect their presentations. After break, each group had a turn on the stage that had been erected in the gym. It was fascinating to see the needs of the girls being surfaced in this way. It was gratifying to see the pledges that were being made. This section of the morning was filmed, and once the disc has been edited, you will be able to see some of what we did.

Placing pledges on string 

At the end of the first session, each of us placed our pledge on piece of string. The pledges were strung out like prayer flags. These have been kept and will serve two purposes. We will do an audit of the needs written on the pages and then the pages will be turned into an installation style art work by the art department.

Girls and staff participating in World @ Lunch

The girls and staff were then invited to have lunch together in Mears Hall. We were in for a surprise though! This was a Round Square experience called The World@Lunch. As we arrived, we were each given a coloured ticket. Those with orange tickets were shown to the stage, where they were served an amazing meal by smartly dressed waiters. Those with green tickets were seated at tables and were invited to partake of a buffet of prego rolls and salads. The third, and by far the largest group, were given yellow tickets. This group was seated on the floor and all were given bread and soup.It didn’t take long for the girls and staff with the yellow tickets to rise up in revolt. They stormed the stage, with fists in the air and chanted that the ‘Stage must fall’. This is the third time that we have run a World@Lunch experience and it was exciting, if a little scary, to see how our girls have become empowered. On the previous occasions, there was a lot of complaining but the girls accepted their lot. That was certainly not the case this time – our girls have a voice and they used it.

Once calm had been restored and we had all eaten the food assigned to us, the experience was debriefed. This part of the day was organised by Mrs Ashton and facilitated by Ivan Samdaan, the husband of our own Rev Jen. He was an empathetic and skilful facilitator. By the end of our lunch, much had been shared but it’s also clear that there is much still to be said. The fact that so many people in the world go hungry every day was brought home to all of us in a very real way. By the end, the girls with soup and bread were grateful for what they had. It was not an easy experience but the lesson was profound.

Where to from here? The conversation must continue. We must find a way to entrench the values that we spoke about so eloquently in the morning session and then seemed to forget in the heated emotion of the lunch experience.  Ultimately, we want to hold ourselves to the pledges that were made; we will continue to strive for “Love, hope, more tolerance”. We invite you to join the conversation and to become part of a school community working together to live out the ideals and values which we hold so dear. We must #Stand!

Stand together, stand beside, stand against, stand for, stand up! Stand with us.