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Our Stories Matter

The theme of story and story-telling emerged quite strongly during our recent staff INSET days.

Story is very much the thing that connects us to others and allows us to relate to the myriad emotions that we experience as human beings. For some, telling our story comes very naturally, but sometimes our stories are harder to tell.

The Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, relates her experience of growing up in her home country, reading mostly literature from the Western canon. As a child, she struggled to relate to stories of children drinking lemonade and eating apples in the Northern Hemisphere, and the characters in these stories very seldom had names that sounded like hers. She grew up with a very one-dimensional view of the West, and in fairness to her, someone from the West would probably have struggled with the characters and content of stories emerging from the African continent too. She warns of the dangers of living life from the perspective of a single story (our own), when the world is made up of people from so many different places, having experienced so many different things.

It was wonderful to see all our boys returning to school last week. There is a delightful buzz at the start of the term as we all swap stories of what we did over the summer, and relate stories of events that occurred during our time apart. We are built for this; sharing our lives is part of our DNA.

Brene Brown speaks about being good stewards of our stories, and those of others. When we tell our stories we are building trust and nurturing connection. This is a very important part of the human experience – connecting and feeling known. It is often through the kindness of others that we are given the space to talk about our lives and how we have arrived at this point in our existence.

Our boys have the wonderful privilege of attending a school where their growing stories are nurtured and appreciated, and we want each of our young people to know that they are able to speak to any of our staff about things that are important to them. Many Pilgrims’ have no problem with this, and we are often able to guide and reflect on events with our boys, and create opportunities where the rudder can be adjusted slightly to ensure that the course of life remains true.

As Director of Wellbeing, it is my sincere wish that we can all grow to appreciate each other’s stories, and find the space to find those with whom we can share life’s trickier moments. If we can foster an environment where kindness, nurture and grace can grow, we will be going a long way towards raising a generation of young men who will be able access help without fear of shame or rejection. If we are somehow able to deal with life’s challenges proactively, it may help us to own our stories, and feel a deep sense of connection to the present, rather than feeling stuck in the past.
Craig Cuyler
Director of Wellbeing

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