On March 20, Bryn Mawr held its fourth annual Community Day of Learning. Instead of classes, students, faculty, and staff have the option to attend a wide variety of workshops and lectures devoted to topics that help us better understand each other and ourselves. I went to all three sessions throughout the day. In the morning I attended “Reflecting on Bryn Mawr’s Relationship with Mental Health and Disability on Campus,” after lunch I headed to “Narrative Therapy: How the Stories We Tell Impact Our Present,” and then I finished up the day with “Managing Difficult Conversations: How to talk so people will listen and listen so they will talk.” All three sessions were interesting and informative.
The workshop on mental health and disability was the only one I went to that was led by students; three members of EnAble, a club for students with disabilities and their allies, did research in the Bryn Mawr archives to learn about how the college acknowledged disability throughout its history. I really admired how they read between the lines, piecing together documents to find the presence of students with disabilities and mental health conditions, who have always existed but have not always been accommodated.
I went to the session on Narrative Therapy just because I didn’t know what that was, and was curious to find out. The session was led by a student at Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work. He taught us that Narrative Therapy is a tool to explore and reframe one’s experiences in a way that can empower the individual. We were encouraged to discuss thought-provoking questions about the narratives that are prevalent at Bryn Mawr as well as in our larger culture, and how these might affect our ways of thinking. This session was a little intense at times, as we discussed very heavy topics. Still, it was good to get a reminder of how I can shape the stories that I tell myself about my own life.
The last session, on listening to others, provided the most practical skills of the day. We divided into pairs for most of the session and took turns practicing active sharing and listening skills. Then we gave our partners feedback. I am always trying to become a better listener, so I appreciated this opportunity.
I’ve gone to Community Day of Learning every year I’ve been at Bryn Mawr, and I would encourage everyone to take advantage of these sessions as much as they are able. It’s fun to learn about things you are not specifically studying in classes, especially topics that are so pertinent and important.