” I see you, I hear you, you matter”

Relationships are one of the cornerstones of our development. Relationships within our families, communities and cultures provide the foundation for how we view ourselves and the world around us.
I find there is no better way “to demonstrate” this than through Getting to Know You Activities at the beginning of the course, or Small Group Activities throughout the course. One such activity is entitled, “I See You, I Hear You, You Matter.” Students are asked to think of  a quote, excerpt from a poem, spiritual verse etc. that is deeply meaningful to them; comforting words they might refer to in challenging times. Of course I provide examples from previous students and my own personal ones.
My mother used to say, “ In life, you have to take the bitter with the sweet.” At 7 or 8 years old, I did not really have a context for this. Was she talking about biting a lemon and then biting a piece of candy? It would be years later in my adulthood that I grasped this, that life is, in fact, bitter and sweet, positive and negative, good and bad, happy and sad, etc. This is the whole of life, and “taking it” is accepting this fact. It is not waiting for the other shoe to fall, it is knowing that a shoe falling is part of the whole of life. When I really understood this, it was a transforming moment for me. My mother died when I was 15, over 45 years ago, and so many of her words continue to caress and comfort me. My relationship with my mother was one of the most important relationships in my life. Relationships matter.
In this Getting To Know You activity, I offer students 3×5  index cards to use for writing down their words of wisdom. Students generally select their quotes, verses etc. from their family (particularly grandparents),  friends, faith-based or spiritual texts and media (books, movies, online sources). A few students created their own words of wisdom from a compilation of quotes they had heard over the years. I instruct students to : 1. walk around the classroom, 2. introduce themselves. 3. Share their quotes, 4. Each say , ” I see you, I hear you, you matter” after reading  ‘their’ quote, 5. exchange quotes, 6. Go to the next person.
Some  quotes shared by students:
“ Be an original in a world of copies.”
“ Today, give a stranger one of your smiles; it might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” – H. Jackson  Brown Jr.
“It always seems impossible, until it’s done.”
The role of the  listener in the pair  is to say , “I see you, I hear you, you matter”, after they hear the quote. The listener is saying, in part, that  their classmate has their undivided attention, they are  listening to what  the classmate, is saying, and who their classmate is and their experience matters . They exchange partners about five times during this activity and they keep the index card they end up with. Sometimes they get their own card back, sometimes they get something different. It is a beautiful thing to look around the room and see students looking into each other’s eyes, smiling and making connections. This activity always creates excitement, even among the most shy students.
After this activity,  they know others in the class a little more and it provides a good foundation for discussing the Nature and Nurture of Human Development.
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