26 May 2017

Alex Hems: Head's Blog May 26, 2017

Alex Hems for websiteIt is hard to find the words to respond to the outrage which took place in Manchester this week. St George’s joined in the nationwide silence at 11am on Thursday, an expression of solidarity and respect for those who have lost loved ones and whose lives were changed forever on Monday night. As is so often the case, at moments such as this when we are exposed to the worst of humanity, we also see the best. The courage, selflessness and good-heartedness of rescue workers and volunteers who gave first aid, cared for children and young people who had been separated from their families, queued to donate blood or offered free transport or refreshments, are uplifting and should be remembered in the midst of understandable anger and dismay.

We are very aware at school that young people, even if not directly affected by these events, will be distressed and possibly frightened by the images they have seen. Everyone will react differently; for some it will be natural to wish to talk about what has happened and others will prefer to move on quickly. I have included some links to useful resources at the end of this message which might be helpful for anyone talking to their daughter about world events which worry them.

Of course, any girl needing to talk about these events at school can be sure of a listening ear from their form tutors, Heads of Year, the school nurses or the counsellor, Houldsworth staff, or indeed any member of staff with whom they feel comfortable speaking. We will also be offering age-appropriate advice for girls more formally in PSE sessions at school.            

Events such as these put human faces to matters of world politics. Whenever disaster strikes any human community I have found myself wondering how the people involved recover. I read an account of a man who had survived Hurricane Katrina, but only just. After several days of danger and near starvation, during which he had seen other survivors turning on one another, he returned to his job as a delivery driver. He said, “So ever since I have been back and on the delivery truck again, I go out of my way to find somebody who needs something, every day. And I try to help, help somebody every day. Makes me feel good.”

It would be glib to suggest any easy answers for those who have lost loved ones this week, but when we struggle to make sense of horror we can sometimes feel our way through the confusion by finding a sense of purpose and by recognising what we can do for others. Perhaps most important is taking control, seeing that we can be active in determining our own outcomes.

You may find the following article, written by Maria Konnikova and published in the New Yorker last year, an interesting read. It explores ways in which people develop resilience. I am grateful to a colleague for passing it on to me.

As we approach half term our thoughts at St George’s are with all those affected by recent events. In the face of an act of terrorism which is designed to challenge the values of our society, I am proud of the celebration of diversity, tolerance and the international outlook which characterise the St George’s community. I hope that you will all be able to enjoy some family time together in the next few days and wish you a very good weekend.

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