Reflections: “Enhancing Your Ability to Live an Authentic Life” with Sarah Przedpelska & Sara Pestana

Sarah Przedpelska and Sara Pestana facilitated this thoughtful session and engaged participants in the discussion of how and what we define as meaningful education. We explored how received education merges with our identities, values and interests, in building a purposeful future.

The first point of discussion was on success. How we define it and what it means for each one of us. We explored whether it was static or fluid and how it evolves through time. Where traditional education is considered, is our success determined only through and by how educated we are?

Each participant was asked to define their understanding of education. Many definitions came up – some agreed it was the state’s way of ensuring success of its citizens; others suggested it was the state’s way of passing on or reproducing culture. But education should be more. It should not only prepare us for a job/work, it should prepare us for life. Being educated is usually equated with a piece of paper – a diploma we acquire to mark the conclusion of designed knowledge, but it should also be viewed as a process of formations; one that molds us as human beings.

Schools educate us on ‘the what’ through the programs developed by national ‘experts’ on specific subjects. Together with other experts and administrators, they decide what we are supposed to know after we finish school. However, curriculums are not as fluid as changes in societies and thus leads to discrepancies and a gap between ‘the what’ – that is designed to be learned in schools, and the experiences and issues people face on a daily basis.

One way to bridge the gap is in exploring ‘the who’ – people we know and have in our circles. It is important to have people who can point us in right direction, connect us to network we ordinarily would not have had, suggest books to us to read or challenge us in a different way of thinking and viewing the world.

We all have people in our lives with whom we have strong ties – our family and close friends, who nurture us. However, the people with whom we have weaker ties are often the ones who open doors for us and help us develop into a world that can actively shape our success. These days, career is no longer a continuous process. People go though multiple jobs and careers in their lives, and in this sense, it’s very valuable to see what role our connections and network have in shaping and supporting our various paths.

Sarah and Sara, throughout this workshop facilitated activities that required us to think of ourselves and the values that matter to us. At one point, we were asked to write down ten of our strongest values. Thereafter, we were asked to quickly shave three off, then two, then three more… leaving us with the three most core values. This required quick thinking and participants had to reflect on what the three values left on their notes meant to them, and why they negotiated them as being more ‘valuable’ than the other seven that were shaved off. 

To navigate the many forks in the road that we might take, we need the right set of skills and values to adapt to and manage new circumstances. If we introspect and revisit experiences in our lives which we considered challenging or decisive, we often find that we are very proud of our achievement of surviving in spite of the difficulty. By evaluating the skills and values, we apply – for example, resilience, perseverance, hard work, kindness – we find that a common thread between those experiences are values that make us thick.

In many ways, our strengths are not something we were born with; they are traits developed via nature and nurture over time. We may come upon our strength through experiences that define us, or by exploring our interests, developing our talents and abilities and making an active decision to invest in them.

Furthermore, we were asked an important question at this session, to which participants had to reflect on and share with the group.

            “What would you do, if you couldn’t fail?”

To you reading this, we now transfer this question to you. What would you do if you couldn’t fail?

If you can answer this question, then we’d like to challenge you to start doing today, what you would do if could not fail.

We are thankful to Sarah and Sara for an excellent facilitation of this session. It involved a lot of introspection and reevaluation of inherently accepted beliefs and reproduced culture. This allowed participants to assess their norms and values, and gave us much to think about for many days thereafter. We are thankful for their time and guidance in facilitating this and we look forward to future sessions with both Sarah and Sara.

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