First of all, I’d like to thank you all for your prayers and the encouragement you gave me after my last update. In the week or so following that, things really started to turn a corner, and we were able to end the term on a much more positive note.
Oddly enough, it was one of the things that was giving me the most trouble that ended up making the change. You might remember me mentioning that there was one of my girls who was struggling with some of the rules and there were a lot of trust issues going on there. Well, that soon morphed into some disciplinary issues on a much broader scale than anyone had anticipated, and the end result was that this girl was sent home. Obviously, this isn’t the part that made things get better—there was a lot of tension and anger going around the dorm for a while. Discipline issues aside, this was a very popular, friendly girl, and we all do miss her. Her closer friends were very angry at what seemed to them to be an abrupt dismissal, so for a while there, things were actually worse. But as the dust started to settle, I noticed the atmosphere in the dorm making a change for the better. This girl’s issues had been more in the academic realm—in the dorm she had been very pleasant, so I was surprised to find things becoming more peaceful after she left. She hadn’t been one to stir up things, but she was quick to react when others did. Without someone to react to their shenanigans, those that did stir things up have been calming down as well. So, what started out as something sad actually has had a positive ending.
Once things began calming down in the dorm, we were able to start working on building up unity within the dorm. We’re a mixed-grade dorm, about half new students and half old hands, half super-athletic and half artsy/drama people. None of those halves are the same, unfortunately, so we’ve got a lot of small groups that co-exist peacefully with each other, but don’t really venture outside their social circles much. We’ve started up a tradition, which has gone over very well, of having a weekly dorm dinner. Three or four girls come to my apartment and we have dinner and chat. It’s a great way for me to get to know the girls a little more personally, and gives them a chance to interact with each other more too. We’ll definitely be picking that one up again next term. We’ve also been working on watching our words and making the effort to build each other up instead of tearing each other down, even in joking. We did a devotional using the metaphor of carrying around a backpack, where all the unkind things people say to you (or you say to yourself) are bricks being put in your bag, weighing you down. Since then, I’ve been hearing girls around the dorm admonishing each other to ‘stop throwing bricks!’.
This term ended on a much more positive note than last term did too. School ended last week on Thursday, so Wednesday afternoon was our dorm clean up and inspection. It was rather disastrous last time—everything had to be redone during the inspection—so this time, the girls were much more proactive about the cleaning and really threw themselves into it. There was loud music playing and bleach and soap EVERYWHERE, and three hours later, it was so shiny and pretty. Part of our trouble last term had been that, being a small dorm, people are spread a bit thin when it’s time to clean at the end, and last term, people cleaned their part and were done. This time, when people were done with their assignment, they went and helped others who weren’t. Our Station girls even came and pitched in too, which, considering they don’t actually live in the dorm and therefore aren’t under any obligation to clean it, was very sweet of them. So, you know, little by little, we’re pulling together. We’ll get there in the end.
Here are some random pictures from this last half of term.