Saturday, January 28, 2017

Path2Empathy

Hello colleagues! I wanted to share with you a program that our school is currently participating in called Path2Empathy. It was co-created by a former SMS counselor Jennicca. The idea behind the program is that we are building empathy within our students and ourselves. From their website, Path2Empath says that this program should, "show students that seeing the world through another's eyes is essential to personal growth," that "practice and experience walking in another’s shoes demonstrates the importance of shedding at-risk behaviors in order to help others," and "students will build self-worth by contributing to a cause greater than themselves".

The first lesson of the program includes having the students take a seven-day challenge. The challenges include:
  • Eat rice and beans for one meal a day
  • Take a cold shower one time a day
  • Sleep on the floor
  • Drink only water (no other beverage)
  • Wear only two outfits 
  • Carry one gallon of water everywhere you go
  • Walk to school
  • No make-up
  • No fast food
  • No snacking or eating between meals
As part of the seven-day challenge, there are prompting questions to ask the kids. We are planning on having the kids blog about the challenges they chose and how they are feeling. Since us teachers are ALSO picking challenges, I thought it was apropos to answer the same questions as I blogged.

What challenge did you choose? I selected three challenges: eat rice and beans for one meal a day for seven days, drink only water for seven days, and wear no make-up. 

What do you expect to learn? I expected to experience the struggles of people in third world countries. I have to experience the struggles to empathize. 

What has been the most difficult part of the challenge? I honestly believed it would be a breeze to do these three challenges. I thought that wearing no make-up would be the toughest challenge. Even though I do not wear make-up when I do not go to school, I have always worn make-up in front of my middle school students. Shockingly enough, this has been the easiest challenge. The students finally said something on Friday - "Mrs. Jeffrey, you don't look all that different without make-up. You only look more tired, but it's because you're not wearing eye makeup."

The most difficult part of the challenge has been dealing with the weekend and real life with these challenges. I didn't have the best week, and I had some friends that had a rough week. One friend called out happy hour last night, and I was quick to join in. It wasn't until I was driving there that I remembered to only drink water, and boy did I have a little existential crisis! I relented and drank something other than water because I had a rough week, but I definitely realized my own privilege at that moment, and I even brought it up while we were sitting at the table.

It also was a challenge today to eat rice and beans. We had an Edcamp session today, and lunch is provided. I was going to eat rice and beans for breakfast, but then life happens, and I ran out the door with a quick and easy breakfast instead. I would love to go out to dinner tonight before a hockey game, but it is just not going to happen as I want to follow through on at least two of the three challenges! 

How has this experience changed the way you look at food and drink? These challenges made me recognize how easy food and drinks are available in America. Even though I regularly cook breakfast each morning, today I was able to grab a quick snack on the go. I can make coffee quite fast in the morning, or I have funds that allow me to stop at Starbucks. Our fridge is always stocked with food and drink to our delight, even when I say that there's "nothing" to eat.

Part of what is necessary to build empathy, instead of sympathy, is to show gratitude and be grateful for what I have. I think I need to start daily meditation is to demonstrate that gratitude each day.

Thanks for reading. I'll see you next week :) 

- Rachel
My Teacherspayteachers website