Spoken Words

September 6, 2021

Last week we were called upon to go to one of the schools to give a talk to the girls on the need to be kind by being careful with words.

We observed that most of the girls, especially in Form One, complained of mistreatment from the girls in the Senior classes. When we challenged the Senior girls and pleaded with them to be kind to the newcomers, we realized that most felt since they had received some form of bullying when they were newcomers, they also needed to be vengeful.

Words have the power to heal, or to destroy. Teaching kindness and generosity to the Secondary School girls is very important, as they pass on the same information when they are home from school. We decided to carry out an experiment to emphasize this point.

We divided the Senior girls into groups and gave each group a plate and a tube of toothpaste. We asked each group to squirt the toothpaste onto the plate. When they finished, we asked each group to put the toothpaste back into the tube. They all laughed and complained that this was an impossible task.  Some said that even if they struggled, the result would not be the same; they simply could not manage to put the toothpaste back as it was before.

As we watched the senior girls giggle and try again to put the toothpaste back in the tubes, we told them the following:

“We want you to remember this plate of toothpaste the rest of your lives. Your words have the power of life and death. As you encounter new students and challenges in school, you are about to see how much weight your words can carry. You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others. You will occasionally make the wrong choices. Just like the toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you cannot take them back. Use your words carefully. When others are misusing their words, each girl has to be responsible to guard her own words. Make the choice every morning that ‘life giving’ words will come out of your mouth. Decide today that you are going to be a life giver in your respective classes and around the school. Be known for your gentleness and compassion. The world so desperately needs people who are positive and those that give life to hopeless situations. There are so many reasons for a student to give up, they just need a push in the wrong direction, and they will tip over. Be the girl who holds the others up when they are having difficulty coping. When everyone else choses to be mean and a bully, be the light that shines on another girl’s path.”

There was a long moment of silence from the groups after the experiment and the words we shared. The girls were deep in thought, and we saw some of them look down in shame.

Boarding school can be very challenging for many students. Having to deal with a huge number of students, congestion in the classrooms, bullying, other student attitudes and behaviors, poverty and so much more, it can be hard for any girl to cope. Having someone who is kind and mindful helps navigate some of these challenges.

The girls listen to the talk.

One on one sessions to help the girls cope in school.

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