As of 3:45 am on Thursday, October 6th, four Brewster students and one Brewster teacher will be embarking on a meaningful mission to discover solutions to the growing epidemic of teenage anxiety and apathy in a normal school environment. This amazing opportunity offered to us by Brewster Academy is the result of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s momentous coalition with Facebook in generating a nationwide initiative called “inspirED” last year. Along with ten other schools in the US, Brewster began an inspirED club about nine months ago, and our academy has been specifically chosen to encompass the “Passion & Purpose” piece of the initiative. Because of Brewster’s collaboration with inspirED, four of our own inspirED club members (and a special faculty member!) will be attending an important summit at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, this weekend. Brewster’s representatives are Angela First (’17), Jackson Barber (’17), Lucy Liautaud (’17), Dexter Hanson (’18), and Sarah Hunt (dorm parent/Junior English teacher).
For the duration of Friday and Saturday, all five of us will attend workshops that we individually tailored our schedules to. Examples of these fun activities will include a leadership seminar, a discussion group about personal stories regarding passions, and even physically-active events like self-defense and yoga classes. On top of this weekend being an enjoyable experience, the summit will be incredibly productive; we will be rigorously brainstorming ways to not only make our country’s youth more passionate and purposeful but also to improve upon the fervor of the student body at Brewster too.
See you in Cali!
Lucy Liautaud (’17)
Thursday, October 6
Here we go …
The day began at 3:35 a.m. with a loud, monotonous, ringing alarm. Four inspirEd students and one faculty member headed to the Estabrook in the fog, bags in hand. It’s currently 6:29 a.m. and we have made our presence clear at Logan International Airport. Sporting a classic 2003 Brewster Academy sweatshirt, I’d say my BA pride is top-notch right now. Not only because the TSA security employee mentioned how he’s heard wonderful things about Brewster, but because I’m representing such a fabulous school. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel as a group to Silicon Valley and experience a very different work place from school. As we move along in our travels, our goal is to gain as much knowledge on leadership and Social and Emotional Literacy in order to better BA culture. Here we go! #AngieTravels #InspirEdTravels
12:13 p.m. (PST)
After a long 6 hour flight, we stretched our legs and got excited for the upcoming events. Before the inspirED summit, we set out for some sightseeing. The first stop was the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Followed by drives along the coast and a nice lunch on the water. We enjoyed every single minute and the excitement for the summit mounted as the day moved on. The large cliffs, impressive bridges and city backdrops all add to the experience that will undeniably be unforgettable. The fun continues tonight when we get a chance to intermingle with other summit members at an informal dinner gathering at the Hotel. Stay tuned for updates throughout the weekend!
5:59 p.m. (PST)
Hanging out at the inspirEd mixer before our big day tomorrow!
Friday, October 7
We are waiting in the hotel lobby for our ride to the inspirEd Facebook summit. We are looking forward to this interesting day. Angie and Lucy are looking forward to the self-defense seminar. Dexter and I are looking forward to our student leadership workshops which will focus on the understanding of “meaningful” leadership. In these workshops, we will collaborate to build actionable implementation plans for the remainder of the school year and beyond. Will will make sure to post updates from the day!
Jackson Barber ’17
Everything is going to be alright – they had DC for Mrs. Hunt
A little Facebook dance party to energize us east coasters!
So we’re not having any fun at all. JUST KIDDING! Look at Dexter and Angie dance it out at Facebook! Day 1 so far has been amazing. We took some notes on meaningful leadership that our senior prefect (Angie) can’t wait to share with the rest of the leadership team in Workshop 1. Then three of us (Dexter, Lucy, and Angie) went and learned some basic principles of self-defense. We’re working up a sweat if you can’t tell! Meanwhile, Jackson participated in a Yoga workshop. Our final workshop was dedicated to becoming aware of the positives and negatives in our school culture and climate. Tomorrow we are to make an action plan for addressing these aspects of our community! We can’t wait… but until then, KEEP ON DANCING!
What a Day!! Facebook was an incredibly cool venue for a very productive day. Working with so many interesting people coming from many different walks of life. We participated in many workshops and complex conversations. We learned and brainstormed different ideas about student leadership and how to implement it, and learned about self-defense and talked about what issues need to be solved at BA. We also had talks about diversity and how to handle it and talk about it. The workshop also included an award ceremony where all of the schools who earned the Changemaker Award were honored and we heard their stories. A truly humbling experience to say the least. Tomorrow we will make an action plan on how we can improve the Social Emotional environment at Brewster.
Saturday, October 8
Today is going to be a great day. Yesterday we spent most of our day in workshops learning about how inspirEd work will benefit our school and today we will be spending time coming up with ideas to accelerate the inspired process. Really looking forward to what’s to come! Yale’s team is very smart and we feel grateful to have this opportunity to learn from them.
Dexter, as a member of the youth advisory board, leading a session on what we can do to create more understanding and tolerance in schools.
“How can we make space for PLAY & CREATIVITY for everyone?”
Angie presents an idea
Day 2: ACTION! Today we put our ideas into motion. The workshops today were dedicated to brainstorming and outline plans of action for what we want to do to boost positive school charisma. We decided on three things to do: 1) Have music playing in Esta 2) Halloweek 3) Teacher-Student Anonymous Pen Pals!!! More info to come on these three things. We cherished our final steps on Facebook’s campus and turned in our badges BUT the inspiration never ends! We’ll see you in 16 hours Brewster, back and better than ever as CHANGEMAKERS!
Sunday, October 9
5:47 a.m. (CST)
How we feel about this two hour layover. #Chicago
Wow, what a weekend! Our InspirED teammates arrived back at the Brewster campus around 12:15 pm today, after a very late red-eye flight and a minor layover. In spite of that, these few days at the Facebook headquarters were an incredible experience: we shared our personal narratives and discussed how everyone can learn valuable lessons from pivotal moments in our own and others’ lives; we learned more about effective qualities of a leader; we each met some amazing peers and fostered new relationships with people from all around the country; and lastly, we spoke about what it takes to enact change in our schools, with a lead-up to more specific action-planning for the future. We gained useful and precious information during this summit, but most of all, we have been struck by a resounding feeling of gratitude. Teenagers at Brewster are very lucky in that our administration works very closely with the student body to ensure that our minor grievances and our big ideas are acknowledged. Other schools represented at the conference spoke of their difficulty implementing certain leadership clubs, or how hard it is to coordinate events without the support of their fellow adults. Brewster is also fortunate enough not to suffer from the same social issues many high schools confront daily (e.g. intolerance). Instead, we embrace diversity within our student culture. All-in-all, this weekend reaffirmed our belief that our school environment is one defined by a sense of safety and a commitment to continually promoting positive improvements within our student community.
Thank you to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Facebook, and most importantly, Brewster Academy. All five of us were blown away by this opportunity. The chance to reflect on how much our school has done–and can do moving forward–to improve our already-positive climate was deeply rewarding.