Mrs A Stubbington, Head of Hirschfeld House
‘At least half of what we call hope, I believe, is simply the sense that something can be done.’ Anna Funder (2011)
One way or another we are all in transition at the end of another year. For all of us transition means, at the very least, a change of focus from one year to the next, a separation from people to whom we are attached, or perhaps, a reassessment of who we are and where we are. For each girl it means a step up to a new Year level or stepping out into the world, and for Brisbane Girls Grammar this year it means a transition from one Principal to another. In the life of the School this is indeed a major transition. Our appreciation goes to Dr Bell for her inspirational leadership during the past 11 years and our hopes go with her for her future. Our hopes too, remain with the School for its future.
Hope is a fundamental building block of our existence which develops motivation and resilience. Hope makes transition possible, it enables us to think through problems, evaluate solutions and take action. And when things go wrong, hope helps us to reflect and consider alternative possibilities and to bounce back. Hope is a resource and a strength by which we strive for meaningful goals. In itself, of course, hope is a developmental achievement and subject to the vicissitudes of experience that makes each one of us an individual, so that we are not each endowed with the same quantities and qualities of hope. (Snyder, 2004). As teachers and parents, we understand that a child’s broadening world of experience and anticipation enables her to grow in hope even as she develops a greater and greater capacity for the toleration of separation and disappointment, and also for the delay of gratification in the interest of a positive future. This means a great deal of trust is placed by the child in the adult to help navigate the pathway to becoming a positive person with a capacity for hope.
Much of what we do in School is about developing hope, motivation and resilience, and creating meaningful goals. This is particularly true of the Service programme. There are certain Service programmes and traditions that have become established over the years, but in recognising the way girls work best, there are always opportunities for personal choice, initiative and decision making so that any Service event or activity here always takes on a life of its own. The Service Captains articulated their goals for 2012 in their first address to the School:
Today, we seek to build a doorway between Girls Grammar and the world. Together we are members of a global community, connected to the whole world by ties of culture, politics, travel and a shared environment…. We hope you will be willing to be involved in service this year…. We encourage every student to practice active citizenship and become involved in community activities both within and beyond the school. With this, the Year 8 and 9 World Vision Sponsor Child Programme has begun. Again, this is a wonderful opportunity for girls to broaden their gaze to a global perspective, acknowledging issues within developing nations. The Year 10 Service Programme has officially commenced for the year. This programme enables the Year 10s to contribute time and create a tangible difference to someone’s life. As such, we encourage the Year 10s to make the most of this unique opportunity.
Holly Richardson (12H) and Jacqueline Roberts (12G)
Girls who invest something of themselves for the benefit of others through service, reap the rewards themselves many times over in their sense of being and their understanding of the world. Giving to others helps them to become better people. In their interactions with others who need help, they are giving more than help, they are giving hope. They are sharing a deep sense that ‘something can be done’. This developmental experience is particularly powerful in Year 10. The girls have the responsibility of choosing, negotiating and setting up their own service placement for fifteen hours of community service. They have to move out of their comfort zone and move into the real world. There is a firm support and monitoring structure in place but we do them an injustice if we try to do too much for them. They need to realise the power of their own capacity for independence. When girls accept the challenge and take ownership of the situation it becomes a significant learning experience:
After considering many ideas we chose to give our help to YoungCare Australia. Currently more than 7,500 young Australians under the age of 65 with full-time care needs are living in aged care facilities simply because there are few alternatives….Overall, our experience at YoungCare was extremely rewarding. When the three of us first walked in we didn’t know what to expect. We were unsure of who we would meet and what we would be asked to do. It was quite overwhelming for us. Seeing the residents for the first time made us a bit unsure if we had the influence to really carry out our service but after our first visit we realised we had nothing to worry about. The people we met were so kind and warm. We played games and cooked or helped them in their apartments. We listened to their stories. The bonds we now share with these lovely people will be held for a very long time and we continue to visit long after our fifteen hours have been completed. With everything we do, we always seem to make them smile and that is the most satisfying thing the three of us got in return, a smile. We couldn’t have picked a more gratifying service than YoungCare.
Abigail Hume (10L), Claire Phillips (10G) and Raquel Toren (10L)
For my community service, I went to the Hear and Say Centre with the Wings of Sound for children with a hearing impairment. I would help the children with reading their music, singing the right words and singing in tune. The choir is a new programme and I believe it is really beneficial to the children’s confidence and their speech…..The experiences that I had at Wings of Sound were ones that could not be replaced. The children were always happy to see me and it was a great feeling to see them smile. I didn’t realise how much the children looked to me as a leader until one girl said she wanted to be like me in high school which made me understand the value of a good role model. For the fifteen weeks that I helped the children in the choir I was at all of the concerts, even conducting some of them. I enjoyed my time there and enjoyed the leadership role that I took. This experience was beneficial to me and I hope my commitment helped the organisation as well.
Sophia Bergman (10G)
I completed my community service at Hilltop Gardens Nursing Home and Care Centre in Kelvin Grove. My main activity was to talk with the elderly residents who clearly appreciated the company. I also gave manicures and handed out newspapers, both of which allowed ne to bond more closely with people. I made many strong relationships with people and found it difficult to say goodbye. I ended up doing more than my fifteen hours because I couldn’t bear to tell Elma that my weekly visits would end. I went with a friend which was very helpful as we could talk about some of the more overwhelming aspects of our experience such as when one of the residents we had built a relationship with, passed away. Yet even this sad aspect made me more aware and more appreciative of what was happening in the community. Participating in community service allowed me to mature, learn, appreciate and enjoy the happiness I brought to the people I visited. It was a joy to see the energy we could bring to people just from being there and I always looked forward to going. I realise how lucky I am in my youth and have become more appreciative of my situation.
Alexandra Knight (10G)
In Term’s II and III of 2012, I completed my second community service placement at the Amarina Aged Care Centre, Windsor. This aged care centre offers accommodation and full time care for patients with Dementia and other high-level care needs. It aims to provide a safe, warm and homely environment for older men and woman living with dementia. … The person I formed the biggest connection with was Jean. By the end of my time at the centre, I did not want to leave! Every afternoon when I told her I had to go home, she would insist on walking me to the door, even though she was in a wheelchair! I feel I not only made a significant impact on her time in the centre, but she definitely became the highlight of mine. Overall, I have truly gained so much from this experience. Not only has this experience changed me, in a positive way, I hope that I have changed, or made a difference to, the lives of the people I was with at the centre. I could honestly say, this experience has changed the way I act and feel and I will always remember the things I have learnt not to mention the people I have met.
Mackenzie Geeves (10M)
I chose to work at the Pyjama Foundation, a charity that is breaking the cycle of disadvantage experienced by children in foster care. Pyjama Angels are volunteers who read with children in foster care to help develop their literacy skills. As you have to be 18 to be a Pyjama Angel I worked in the office making birthday cards for the foster children. I really enjoyed working there. It made me realise how lucky I am to have a family and a house to come home to every night.
Louise Hickey (10G)
These reflections represent what all of the Year 10s have been doing in their service programmes – making sense of their lives and their world, making a contribution to the community and bring hope to others who need help. Later, in Years 11 and 12, girls continue to volunteer their time and energy through School service clubs such as Second Chance and The Ecumenical Coffee Brigade, and through activities such as the Royal Brisbane Children’s Hospital WonderFactory and the Study-Buddy programme. This quality of service helps to balance the ups and downs, the positives and the negatives of the transition through adolescence. Veering from hope to despair is part of the job description of the adolescent but the emotional roller-coaster can become more worthwhile and less terrifying when perspective and resilience, and a personal sense of hope, are developed from the experience of helping others.
Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
Vaclav Havel (1986)
Funder, A. 2011 All That I Am. Hamish Hamilton
Havel, V. 1986 Disturbing the Peace. Chapter 5: The Politics of Hope. First Vintage
Books Edition, April, 1991
Snyder, C.R. 2002 Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Psychological Inquiry, Vol13, No.4. Retrieved 7/11 2012 from http://www.jstor.org.stable/1448867