Workshop helps students become ‘changemakers’

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Workshop helps students become ‘changemakers’

A post-it note activity where participants reflected on the DGS community.

A post-it note activity where participants reflected on the DGS community.

Jacqueline Barba

A post-it note activity where participants reflected on the DGS community.

Jacqueline Barba

Jacqueline Barba

A post-it note activity where participants reflected on the DGS community.

This Tuesday, I participated in the “My Name, My Story” Changemaker workshop hosted at DGS. Over 150 of my peers and I were encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that centered around empathy, personal values and the importance of compassion toward others. From second to eighth period we shared, listened, and discussed the diverse viewpoints of the DGS student body. 

It wasn’t as bad as you’d think. 

I expected the workshop to be a jumble of awkward bonding busywork. The sort of stuff they make you do the first day of school- questions like, “what’s your favorite color” that don’t serve much purpose other than to get past the initial hurdle of awkwardness. 

That’s why I was pretty excited to find that most of the activities weren’t so much icebreaker stuff, but actually effective in their ability to make me feel like I was bonding with my classmates. 

The day was divided into a diverse range of activities. Some focused primarily on self-reflection and your own perspectives, while others were geared towards improving the DGS community as a whole. 

The preface of the day was that we, as participants, could expect the discomfort of sharing some of our happiest and most difficult memories in small groups or partners, who were most likely strangers. 

Quite honestly, as someone who truly dislikes discussing their most personal memories with complete strangers, this was a bit unnerving to hear. 

However, during the activities where I was sharing out, I wasn’t always sharing with the same group or the same partner. This made it more like sharing a little bit with a variety of people rather than oversharing with only a specific set of people, which was a whole lot easier for me to get comfortable with.

I made an effort, for the sake of honest reporting, to be as vulnerable and honest as possible in each activity. I genuinely tried to explain the “why” behind each choice I made, (another focal point of the program). I was delighted to find that although I was still incredibly uncomfortable, everyone I talked to was extremely understanding and kind, which made sharing easier. 

A strong point of the workshop was that it was mostly student-led. Energetic, engaged and sincere student leaders helped and participated in everything, from x to y. This was effective in taking away some of that initial embarrassment. 

Overall, I felt that the goal of the workshop itself — to promote empathy for everyone’s point of view — was notable for its relevance beyond high school itself. The importance of self-reflection, empath, and the wish to improve your community can be carried beyond the brick walls of DGS into the real world. For me, that made the workshop all the more valuable. 

The “My Name, My Story” Changemakers workshop promoted skills that were honestly useful in a multitude of capacities. Regardless of what your background is, regardless of your future plans, an ability to empathize and understand a diverse range of viewpoints will become applicable in the real world.

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