Earlier this week, I took this stunning picture in Forest Park (St. Louis, MO), which I see as a metaphor that I want to share with my students.
Life is full of choices, phases and bridges. Crossing these bridges can be slippery (icy) and scary, but often times doing so allows for new discoveries and for beautiful life changing experiences.
You can’t always go back, but you can always move forward
Often, when I advise students, I realize that they have incredible potential, but are scared to move forward with their endeavors. This has been especially true when talking about studying abroad or relocating far away to study or intern. It is true that it is impossible to know the future. Moving away inherently comes with challenges, but it also has the potential to be extremely rewarding.
I can relate to my students, as I have felt these fears before myself. When I left Quebec City to attend a business school in the United Kingdom, I vividly remember understanding that leaving the country for an extended period of time would change me. I knew I could also never come back to what I was leaving behind. Of course, if I wanted to I could decide to move back to Quebec City, but it would never quite be the same. People change, places change, things change. I knew that I could never really come back to the Quebec City I was experiencing at the time.
That being said, I understood that while I may not be able to find that special place again, I would be able to move forward. There would be other bridges and other opportunities. The more I would be exposed to new experiences, new people and new places, the more bridges would appear. That is exactly what happened.
I keep fond memories of my undergraduate experience in Quebec City. While the journey to where I am now has not been easy, I am grateful for it. I would never have anticipated that I would have been able to be where I am today,
The challenge/support continuum in student development
Student development requires an environment that provides a good balance between challenge and support (Sanford, 1967). In order to reach their educational and developmental goals, students need to be challenged, but also receive adequate support to succeed. I was never quite sure how to find this balance in my practice.
When I saw that icy bridge, I came to realize that I wanted to help students find bridges and also help them cross them. Transitions are stressful and difficult. However, beyond that I wanted them to experience their new surroundings fully and be challenged until they felt ready for a new transition.
Feel free to use the comments below to discuss your own philosophy and some of the initiatives you are working on that tackle that challenge and support balance in student development.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Stacy Oliver-Sikorski on Professional Development