Social resilience workshop for DP students
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Social resilience workshop for DP students

To make a really positive start to the school year and to get to know each other (a little bit better) the DP students all took part in a Social Resilience workshop led by Anneke Blaauwendraad from Ortho Consult. ‘Where’s home, that is the question. Is home where you make it?’.

By Ingrid Schmoutziguer, communications

As the DP2 students make a large circle on the annex playground you can tell that everyone is slightly nervous about the workshop. At the same time it is clear that the students are also really excited to catch up with friends after the summer. Mentors Ali Mohammed, Vangelis Karagiannakis and Amaya Menendez (filling in for Polina Moutsaki who is on maternity leave), as well as student support specialist Billie Milikan and school psychologist Elzemiek Chell are all present to join in with the workshop which provides them with an excellent opportunity to get to know the students in their mentor groups.

Group challenges

To break the ice workshop leader Anneke Blaauwendraad start with a series of group challenges. ‘Form a circle based on your height’, she tells the students and mentors. ‘Arrange yourself from the shortest to the tallest’. Five minutes of shuffling, giggling, pushing and shoving later the group is arranges by height. Blaauwendraad: ‘You might notice that no once can be excluded from this exercise. We might all be different, but we all have a certain height.’

The DP 1 students did the same workshop, but on a different day

The next challenge – arranging themselves according to their birthdays – poses a new challenge. ‘When we did the height exercise, you only needed to look at one another, to figure out the birthdays you have to talk to each other’, says Blaauwendraad after the students have made their circle. Students born in the same month smile at each other and some are amazed that although they know most of the other students they never knew their birthday.

For their last challenge the group need to split into sub groups based on their eye colour. ‘You see’, says Blaauwendraad when the groups have been formed, ‘we might be different from each other, but there are also always similarities’.

What are you dreading?

The group then splits into their mentor groups and write down what they are looking forward to this school year and what they are dreading. The papers get shuffled and read out loud. The students then have to guess who wrote what. Most of the students seem to look forward to spending time with their friends and some of them are brave enough to admit they also look forward to learning new things. Students are dreading ‘the big exams, ‘the hard work’, and ‘the pressure of getting everything done’.

In smaller groups the students talk about, where they are from, how many countries they have lived in and how long they have been living in the Netherlands. Julia shares with the group that she has lived in many countries and quite often for only a couple of months or a year and how difficult it has been to start over again for so many times. Iris has also moved a number of times with her family but has now been back in the Netherlands since grade 7. ‘I have done so many amazing things and seen so many places’, she says. ‘That for sure has to be one of the best things about living in different countries. Sinan, who moved to the Netherlands two years ago, tells that the move was ‘easier’ than he had thought before hand. And ‘although he missed his friends, he can still visit them and stay in touch online’.

Being an international student

In the other mentor groups the students are also discussing being an international student. ‘What does it bring you?’, asks workshop leader Blaauwendraad and ‘What did it cost you?’. ‘It has been great learning about and from people from different cultures’, says Ella. ‘Its also been good to realise that despite our difference, everyone is also the same.’ Elias who has moved a lot in his life shares that he ‘has become really good at making social connections with people, but not necessarily at maintaining these contacts’, as he never has a ‘place that I could hold on to.’

At which point Natascha muses: ‘Where’s home that is the question. Is home where you make it?. Food for thought indeed.