We want every person to belong – To feel welcome, encouraged, valued and supported to be their best self.
A sense of belonging is a vital ingredient to our wellbeing. Whether it be a football team, a school, church or our family, each of us needs to feel that we belong, that we feel accepted as a member or a part of something bigger.
We seek belonging in a range of settings – with friends, family, sporting/cultural groups – even on social media. Some of us are most comfortable with connections to one or two people while others seek a larger and wider circle of connections – some even seek a connection to the whole world!
Sadly, some seek belonging through the exclusion of others.
When we belong to a community, our motivation, happiness and wellbeing are enhanced. We become aware through our interactions that everyone has difficult times and problems. Importantly we learn that we are not alone and that our problems and issues are shared by many.
At Investigator College we seek to build a sense of belonging for our students, our parents and caregivers, and our staff. We recognise that this takes boundless effort and lots of practice and that we don’t always get it right. Importantly however, where all of us [as the Investigator College community] strive toward a common goal, the likelihood of success is far greater, if not assured.
So what does this mean for each of us on a day-to-day basis?
- We should attempt to look for similarities rather than focussing on our differences. The ability to respectfully share our experiences while accepting the other person’s differences creates understanding and peace. Importantly acceptance does not always mean agreement – and that’s OK.
- Given we come into daily contact with a range of people with a range of different views, another strategy is to strive for genuine acceptance of other people. We will always meet people with alternate views and values to those we hold – and that’s [also] OK! Often, too, there are elements of truth in another person’s viewpoint and this is a great opportunity to learn…..even if you don’t agree.
- The enthusiastic acceptance of the opportunities that come our way is another way to break down barriers. Even if an activity is not one we would normally involve ourselves in, each is an occasion to check our personal judgements and experience something outside our comfort zone. Most importantly, each is a chance to meet people with whom we would not normally associate.
- We should, at all times, be aware of the language we use. There are words that separate [and judge] and words that bring people together. Remember that each of us has strengths and offers our own unique contributions.
My prayer is that Investigator College continues to nurture genuine community, with a strong sense of belonging and acceptance of all, and that this is valued highly – perhaps even above which football team we follow, which town we live in and which Facebook groups we join.