In one programme we had both a teacher and her pupil sharing secrets, sharing their vulnerabilities. It was a challenging and revealing experience for both of them which culminated with the pupil writing a beautiful poem, entitled ‘From Stranger to Friend.’ She moved from seeing her teacher purely in role to seeing her as a fellow human being, temporarily carrying the role of teacher, just as the pupil herself carried hers but was not defined by it.
In another programme we had a young girl sharing her frustrations over the competing expectations adults have of the young: “You can’t do this because you are too young! Don’t behave like that – you are too old to do that!” The pressures of career and life choices weighed heavily on her and she was angry at the apparent injustice of her situation. Sharing her fears and expectations with participants at very different stages in their lives was both exhilarating and illuminating for all involved.
One school pupil participant told us much later that her experience in a residential home, coming to know herself and the older people quite differently, had stayed with her as a formative experience right through her university days and on into her post-graduate studies as an anthropologist, one who studies what it means to be human!