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It’s all about connection

We have a problem.

And I wonder how many people are noticing.

So many Nepali students who feel like school has nothing for them are making a choice to step out. What does this say about how our schools are meeting the needs of our clients? Our customers?

If school holds nothing–no social aspects, no love of learning, no immediacy–then I think we’ve lost our way.

When I asked my students to read an article on Bhutanese suicide rates–they are nearly twice as high as the general population–they reported that they all knew someone who had committed suicide. That’s a pretty scary poll. But they also said this article didn’t interest them. Perhaps it’s because it’s old news.

The reasons for this high rate, according to Refugee Health Assistance Center, are  varied. And this rate of suicide is the same in the camps as it is when they are finally placed in a receiving country. Reasons include:

  • Substance or alcohol use
  • Depression or impulsivity
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Social isolation
  • Unemployment
  • Recent loss

holding-hands-924942_1280So I’m doing my little part. I started a one-woman campaign to keep one student from dropping out. She had isolated herself from friends. She was not accessing learning opportunities offered to her. She was calling out sick from school. She was not eating.

I talked to her at school. Although she had told me that she didn’t want to attend anymore, I told her that I noticed that she did not look happy. Staying at home was likely not working to make life better. So would she please try? Just one more quarter? I got a yes. I bought some food. I held her hand and cried with her a bit.

And then we had a party to reconnect her with friends. There were so many smiles and giggles. Her teachers have noticed a turnaround.

And it’s all about connection. We need to make sure that kids feel heard. And safe. And that there is a friendly face. A person who really cares.

I am hopeful as I get ready to take time off for break. I’m ready to relaunch and redefine why I’m here.

And I invite you to do the same.

If you need some resources to help build empathy, try sharing these stories from the Refugee Health suicide prevention toolkit.

And just remember what difference a connection can make.


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