While Breaking Down the Walls was definitely a powerful and rewarding experience, I’m not sure that it had much of a lasting effect on me or the way I act towards others at school, and I wonder if those who participated along with me feel the same.
On Aug. 29 and 30, two groups of students experienced the daylong program, designed to better the Carmel High campus community. This is the second year that BDTW has come to CHS; it focuses on positive interactions: sharing one’s own personal story and listening to the stories of others.
As I went through the activities on the second day BDTW was offered, I noticed that the students who spent a day together in the gym seemed to be completely random, with no common thread other than that they all attended CHS. I didn’t have any good friends going through the program with me, which, we were told, was the whole point.
The various partner activities were certainly interesting and fun, from games of “team-tag” to telling a partner a funny story about myself. I met several people that I really liked.
That was weeks ago, and I haven’t talked to any of them since, not because we are purposely avoiding each other, but rather because we simply don’t run into each other in the course of our everyday schedules.
The program’s emotionally captivating catchphrase, “It’s hard to hate someone whose story you know,” didn’t seem to apply, since I didn’t have any enmity toward those people at all; I hadn’t even known they existed!
I came away a bit confused as to the exact purpose of the program, wondering if it was to get students to meet new people or to help them better understand those they think they already know.
If the emphasis is on the latter, then it would be better accomplished by conducting the program with a group of students who are already acquainted. Dividing the student body into grade levels would be the ideal solution, although this might not be possible due to the monetary cost.
As far as meeting new people goes, it’s definitely an important part of building a stronger and more open campus community, but some kind of follow-up would be desirable in order to encourage the new relationships to continue and develop.
BDTW is a great program that offers a powerful experience, but the long-term effect would be more significant if students went through the day with people they are already somewhat familiar with or if there was a follow-up in order to keep those relationships with new people going.