“I love you”
At the end of five days of intensive workshops and three hours of presentations, these were the final words spoken by the last student. I was surprised to hear this said by a high school student from Japan to all her classmates, a group of high achievers visiting Stanford University for my global leadership program. They had all given something precious of themselves to each other and nothing more needed to be said.
Its sincerity and clarity brought feelings of joy and peaceful satisfaction that come with teaching in a way that empowers students to bring forth their authentic selves. I know that if we provide the space where students feel safe to be themselves, they will open up. The vulnerability they experience is shared and others follow as if ripples are spreading, enveloping all.
Before the final person's last three words many others had spoken words of similar sentiments, expressing how they were being awakened to the awesome reality of their human imperfection, knowing that it’s okay to be not okay. They realized that their weaknesses were simply part of being imperfectly human, humanly imperfect, and the place of connection with others in community. Expressions of gratitude flowed abundantly and freely. 27 individuals came together in synergy, creating a connecting web of human beings embodying the spirit of mutual respect in which we see and are here for each other.