How might we see others for who they are?

Students from Benedictine Academy and St. Benedict’s Prep engage in an end-of-day reflection that consolidates learning by addressing both the head and the heart.

Students from Benedictine Academy and St. Benedict’s Prep engage in an end-of-day reflection that consolidates learning by addressing both the head and the heart.

We start each morning of Expeditionaries with a story from a social entrepreneur.

One popular social entrepreneur storyteller is Fr. Greg Boyle SJ, Founder and CEO of Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest social enterprise for gang intervention and rehabilitation. In his books, Boyle tells stories [1] of people at the margins who experience transformation when others see them for who they are or aspire to be.

That transformation happen when we see our students the same way.

We do this in part by structuring reflections and feedback to address each student’s head and heart. For example, at the end of yesterday’s session, one student shared that she was feeling “stressed and relieved.”

“I’m curious about that combination,” I told her. “Can you say more about it?”

“Well I’m relieved that my team has a solid prototype to present to the CEO panel,” she said. “But I’m stressed that these executives could ask us anything, and I want to be prepared.”

“The CEO panel is not a final exam,” I said. “It’s not the end. It’s not the beginning of the end. It’s maybe not even the end of the beginning!”

I shared that her team had made extraordinary progress in just three days, and that she had demonstrated her capability. Her team’s CEO panel pitch was an opportunity to obtain helpful feedback early in her team’s design work.

We also rely on the KiSH protocol. When your feedback starts with, “I really like…” you are signaling that you can see, first and foremost, the best version of those students.

How are your students seen for who they truly are—or who they aspire to be?

By seeing them this way, what contributions to the Common Good might you unleash?

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[1] We started yesterday’s Expedition with this story from Boyle’s Barking to the Choir:

“Hector has his four young kids for the weekend and takes them to the Central Library on a Saturday morning. The kiddie floor is a little crazy, so he takes a couple of books and leads his crew to the adult section, which is nearly empty. They plant themselves in a corner on plush, spacious leather chairs, the kids’ little legs barely reaching the ends of the chairs’ cushions. Hector, both a recovering gang member and heroin addict, begins to read in a hushed tone. But he notices the librarian, a gentleman in his thirties standing behind a desk, giving him what he thinks is the hairy eyeball. Hector feels a flush of self-consciousness. Maybe I shouldn’t be here, he thinks, feeling judged. He finishes the two books, corrals his gaggle of four, and makes for the door. But the librarian waves him over. Hector readies himself to be chewed out for reading to kids in the adult section. He situates his kids at a distance, in case what the librarian says takes everybody south for a second. But the librarian only looks kindly at Hector, smiles, and simply says, “Good job.”

The librarian saw past Hector’s tattoos and perhaps gaunt figure to recognize a loving dad caring for his kids. Similarly, we invite Expeditionaries students to see the best versions and the fullest humanity of the people on the margins whom they wish to serve. Only when we see people for who they are can we collaborate with them on effective solutions.

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Christian Talbot