British University Vietnam - “How might we thrive with stress?” - a first-year students’ conversation
By Trang-Iris Nguyen.
Stress doesn’t seem to be a new topic now, especially in our modern life. However, the way we view and respond to stress can tremendously turn the situation around. At the beginning of November, Knowmads Hanoi offered a workshop about this interesting topic with the participation of nearly 70 first-year students in British Hanoi University. In this special occasion, we had a chance not only to talk about stress but also to listen to the rich insights from the youth on how they handle their own stress as first-year students.
Holding the belief in the power of a hosted conversation, we decided to choose World Cafe - a methodology from the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter. With this intention in mind, we were hoping to see ideas crossing the room from tables to tables, inspiring and nurturing each other; instead of a traditional seminar where knowledge are passed only from one teacher to a hundred students. The process was designed around one overarching calling question: “How might we thrive with the stress in the 1st year of College?”
In this World Cafe, conversations happened in multi groups of four participants around specific guiding questions to gradually prepare the ground for ideas to be born and shared. The question for the first round was “When and how do I experience stress?” with the intention for participants to open the conversation and start sharing from their own experiences. The question in the second round was a bit less easy to tackle: “What might become possible if I respond differently to stressful situations?”
After each round, the participants shuffled the groups to bring ideas from one table to another and have a bigger picture of the the group.
“Now, how can I start responding differently?” was the question of the third round. Surprisingly, the struggles did not seem to prevent the young participants from seeking their own strategies to not only live healthily but also thrive amidst stress. A number of interesting ideas filled half of our live harvest with positive energy and the spirit of support and friendship. The strategies ranged from personal practices such as reading books, listening to music, walking in fresh air, relaxing and staying calm; to collective practices such as calling for conversations and having friends to support; and proactive solutions such as dealing directly with stress sources or always being well-prepared.
The workshop ended in a connecting and positive note when the participants stood in a big circle representing the community of first-year students and clapped at the same time. In just two hours, the topic of stress had been explored in many different perspectives, and rich ideas had flourished across the room with just a little support from Knowmads in hosting, harvesting, and especially, creating an engaging learning environment that cultivate self-exploration and knowledge sharing.
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