Students ask: why am I here?

by Jeff Druery

I am really grateful for being able to attend the personal discovery course because it empowered me to tap into my full potential. Marybeth and Jeff were fantastic facilitators and always available to guide and support me through the journey. The course gave me the wonderful opportunity to reflect and grow .

– Christopher

Open Circle’s Personal Discovery Course was the perfect way to start my fourth year. I started the school year wanting to reflect about the person I had become over the last four years and who I hoped to become before leaving university. I have always been a reflective and spiritual individual, but this course guided me on the path to asking the right questions to finding the answers within me. I really enjoyed how we started the journey as a group of strangers, but by the end, I felt that I knew the people within the group on a deep level.

– Sandra, Fourth Year Kinesiology Student

“Do we have any other bids for Good Health? Going once, going twice, sold! Who would like to start the bidding for Wisdom?” As the auction continues, students consult their homework assignment on values, strategizing about which items to bid on. The competition intensifies with students battling it out over some items while showing little interest in others. Amidst all the laughter a serious question is being asked: if there were an auction and you could purchase the things that many people hope for – love, financial security, spiritual fulfillment, leaving a legacy, helping others… you name it – what would you choose? What do you value in life?

The “Values Auction” was one of our first activities in the new Open Circle Personal Discovery Course, where students committed to six weeks of soul-searching about their lives. They asked many questions of themselves: What gives my life meaning? Where do I want to go, what are the obstacles I face, and how do I find support? What are my values and principles which I wish to live by? What do I want to look back and be glad that I did it? Where does my “deep gladness meet the world’s deep need?”

Asking so many big questions all at once can be overwhelming, which is why we provided lots of support through “homework” reflections on each topic, the peer support and encouragement in group sessions, and the individual mentoring Marybeth and I offered. Throughout the course we taught people how to include personal and spiritual reflection in their lives, as well as how to develop the habits and character needed to stay true to their values. We covered some very practical skills, such as financial literacy and values related to money. By the end, everyone created a personal “Life Mission Statement,” which distilled their best understanding of what they learned and discovered. But it didn’t end there! Later in Open Circle discussions, these students keep referring to their mission statement as a reference point in daily living.

As Dana reflects: “For me, this course was a reminder once a week for six weeks to ask myself ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘What do I want?’ It's hard to get to where you want without knowing what that is. Committing to this series helped me to figure out what school and life meant to me, as well as gave me a group to connect and grow with. I can now go into second term with a clearer idea of what I want to gain, my purpose of being here, and exactly why I'm doing what I'm doing.”

The certificate that each participant received at our “graduation” ceremony isn’t backed by any academic institution and it won’t open career doors for them, but it was a moving and proud moment that marked a significant achievement in these students’ lives. And of course, not all of the big questions have been resolved! The graduates are keen to continue supporting each other in their intention to live with purpose and integrity, and next term, we have planned both a follow up course and a repeat of Part One for more students who have already signed up.