Relationships and friendships are most valuable of all our possessions. Deep down, we yearn for relationships. Our hearts ache for friendships. Once we have them, they are the hardest possessions to let go. Our brains are hard wires for connection. We crave community. Our souls yearn to belong.
While belonging and being in community is comforting, achieving community can be most uncomfortable. We fear to be uncomfortable, especially around those we desire to know most, to learn more about, those who are “different from me.” The “noise” of fear might mask into judgment, which may manifest into ridicule, which ultimately maligns the relational connections and community we were created to live in. We are prone to form uninformed perceptions that distort our perspectives. Then we end up inflicting unnecessary and often unintentional pain on one another. Or we may just avoid those who are different.
The primary role of a Jubilee REACH Site Coach is to build a caring, accountable sense of community in the schools we are privileged to serve in. We simply believe that every student desires to be known, loved, affirmed and belong. When Coach Jorge Moreno-Nunez (Assistant Site Coach at Chinook Middle School), invited a group of diverse students to form a leadership team in his Middle School, the first student he talked with confessed, “I have been told I do not fit in. I wish I had friends that accepted me. I just want people to know who I am.”
Plans changed. Coach Jorge paired with School Administrator Susie Challancin. Together, they just listened to the students. The students expressed a desire to have a safe place with a caring, trusting adult, to learn how to talk about and process their thoughts and experiences. “Just the fact that we are listening has been liberating and affirming,” Susie shared.
Within the first weeks, students became friends. They are learning how to “tell their story,” their life’s journey, the challenges, choices, and experiences that have shaped their lives. Jorge and Susie are doing the same, just coming alongside them, being vulnerable with them, telling their own stories. The students are finding their voice, their value and developing their courage, confidence, and character. And…their voices are now being heard in the school’s morning announcements and at school assemblies. They are known, loved, affirmed and beginning to feel they belong.
Stories empower, humanize, emotionalize and transform fears into friendships.
Thank you for the relationship and privilege we enjoy. Thank you for making it possible for us to build caring, accountable community in and around our great schools.