Getting to Know One Another

Mittwoch, 04. September 2013

by Daniel Davis Wood

Members of the Ecole community gather in the Grosser Saal for the opening school assembly of the 2013-2014 academic year.

To mark the start of a new academic year here at the Ecole d’Humanité, staff and students gathered together today to meet and greet the latest members of the Ecole community. New students arrived on campus a couple of days ago and have spent the time since then meeting their Ecole family heads and some of their fellow family members. Returning students arrived only yesterday afternoon, however, just in time for the first meeting of everyone here at the Ecole d’Humanité.

In a hall flooded with warm light from a superb summer's day, the opening school assembly kicked off with a welcome to the Ecole by Sarah Hudspith and Alain Richard. Sarah and Alain have been Ecole family heads and teachers for some thirty years. Drawing on ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, a Native American poet, Sarah and Alain spoke to the theme of the moment: the process of getting to know one another.

Breaking the ice with new people, they said, begins with the obvious questions: basic questions like “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” and “What do you like?” But, they continued, one of the things that makes the Ecole a unique and stimulating environment is that it brings students into an atmosphere that allows them to easily ask deeper questions of the people around them and to develop more meaningful relationships.

Sarah and Alain recite the poetry
of Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living,” Sarah said, quoting Oriah Mountain Dreamer to illustrate the drift towards a more substantial way of getting to know one another:

    I want to know what you ache for,
    And if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. ...
    I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,
    If you can dance with wildness and let ecstasy fill you
    To the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be
    Careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

Following ‘The Invitation,’ Michael Schreier, Dean of Students, took to the stage to introduce all the new members of the Ecole community. New students, new helpers, new teachers, and new administration and support staff were all invited to stand up, say hello, introduce themselves, and let the rest of the school know where they have come here from. By the end of the opening assembly, then, the basics of getting to know one another were in place. Now we have a new year ahead of us to get to know one another in a closer and stronger way.