It's still early in the morning, but the grade 7-12 students at Hope School students are all ears as they listen intently to two students, one after another, share speeches they've prepared for this morning's chapel. It is their second time sharing speeches this year. As someone who doesn't yet understand Arabic, I am taking in their body language and the confidence and passion with which they speak, on topics undoubtedly relevant to their lives. They may be nervous, but I can see that speaking up about things they care about is overcoming this fear, making their nervousness almost unnoticeable to the audience.
At the beginning of the year, the school discussed about the importance of giving students space to take creative initiative, and in giving them the chance to share about, and grow in their passions. One way we created this kind of space is by giving students a chance to perform something or speak during morning chapel. Since sharing that this was available to students, what has followed has been these two brave students sharing their writing.
In a generation of heightened consumption, I've realized that space for creativity, especially in education, is most essential. It is not just therapeutic, and not simply self-expression. Creativity, especially creative writing, challenges students to think for themselves, to wrestle with life's questions, and about the things relevant to their everyday situation. The product of such creativity sparks conversation, and allows others to engage in such expression and processing. I think these student's speeches really speak to this.
Rida's speech challenged the way students too often criticize each other. It relayed his frustration of students not being as accepting as they should, and being too quick to judge. He encouraged students to be more accepting and understanding of one another.
Marah spoke in remembrance of a great Palestinian leader who died fighting for the rights of his people. She spoke of the importance of honoring such people, people who continue to lead and advocate for their community.
It gives me great hope to see these students being given the space to offer their gifts and passions to their community, and I know that they will encourage others to do the same. I hope that each student here will continue to learn that their gifts and ideas are important and needed in this world.