As month two of the Reflections writing class drew to a close at the Hayward Senior Center, students were tired. The topic we explored this month was an emotional roller coaster for many and half-way through the month, I wondered if people would stay committed through to the end of the month.
They did. As a teacher, I held plenty of space for us to talk about the fact that writing brings up emotions, and that we have the choice to write through the emotions, or back off a little, whatever is needed in the moment. Students did just that; they approached their piece, then took a break, then came back to it, till it was done.
We ended May's session as we always do, with a celebration. Students read their work aloud, and in doing so, completed their journey with a sense of satisfaction and closure. Many reported back that reading their finished pieces to the group felt rewarding and cathartic, and helped them let go of some of the emotions that the writing had stirred up.
In fact, many students experienced fascinating things through their writing journey: one student was able to connect with a family member in a very real way, something he hadn't experienced for a while. Another student found compassion for herself and the person she was writing about.
One student struggled with how much to reveal, and then decided to go for it. She stepped up to the center of the room and spoke eloquently about some of her experiences and struggles bringing many of us to tears. Afterwards, she felt a sense of release, of letting go.
It is incredible to watch my students' journey over each month. Each month, this powerful group of students display courage and integrity. They are honest about their struggles and they are well aware of the rewards.
And each month, they come back, continuing to develop the stories of their lives.