Dear HFB Supporters,
We’re back from an amazing couple of weeks abroad. Half of our students went to Northern Ireland and the other half to South Africa. In both places students engaged in deep dialog with their international peers about issues surrounding historical conflict, race, privilege, division, forgiveness, understanding, and building a better future. These discussions, although heavy at times, happened amidst lots of singing, laughter, dancing and the formation of powerful friendships. We’d like to share with you some student writing about their experience:
“Even though everyone eventually revealed their true selves, it did not come without struggles or difficulties. The walls within our group developed feelings of exclusion and isolation. People didn't know how to break down the barriers. It took an uncomfortable conversation on Friday night for people to reveal their emotions. After this discussion, people began to make a conscious effort to create a community where no one felt isolated. Suddenly a trust was developed, and deeper conversations were held. Once this challenging dialogue occurred, we realized how much we valued each other. People showed their appreciation through singing, poetry, and dancing at our open mic. An incredibly strong relationship was developed. Going on this journey made me realize how grateful I am to have participated in this exchange.” - Bella Merrit (Northern Ireland Traveler)
“Though there were definitely difficult divisions throughout the retreat, the most special part of it was to watch the kids from each school break down the barriers that had been created by an ugly history. Each day, hour, and moment words were exchanged and a little more trust was formed. I remember looking around the dining hall during one of our first meals and being startled by the separation inside the room. I think a huge part of this was the language barrier. This difference created a lack of communication and trust, and that seemed to win the battle over efforts to join together. Over the course of a couple days, however, all of us started to see past the skin colors, the languages, and instead of ignoring each other’s cultures, we began to embrace them… Seeing everyone sitting interspersed at the last meal, without having made any announcements, was to me a testament of the power of love, and the difference that a little conversation can really make.” – Agueda Dudly-Berrios (South Africa Traveler)
Thank you for supporting this program and the important dialog it generates!