Make gratitude and appreciation a habit

December 1, 2020

Aristotle once said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves”, but the question is: how do we reach happiness without being grateful?

He pointed out the relationship between human dignity, “the best of us” and gratitude. That relationship teaches us that a mere thank you is not only that, it’s uniquely tied to the giving of one-self. With this in mind, I have come to the conclusion that it’s important we continue to enforce a culture of gratitude and appreciation around us. Being thankful is such a beautiful and powerful quality as we navigate in this tumultuous world.

It should be noted that being happy or being thankful does not depend on your economic status, or how many friends you have and it certainly doesn’t mean being dependent on electronics or even the most recent gadget. It can start as a small seed of appreciation and grow into a life leading direction that will allow ourselves to be grateful when we take the time to reflect on the moments, relationships and stories that truly shape our lives, and we give back a sense of peace and loving gratitude to our families, communities, and the world.

Gratitude means learning to appreciate the hard times because these moments that make the good ones feel even better. This mindset will give you the courage, the spirit, and the strength that allow you to get through challenging times and shape the person you are today. I believe that reflection, and being thankful should happen every day, but specially on these days, we have a shared opportunity to thoughtfully and collectively push our ‘thanks’ beyond our normal circles. So now, take a moment to reflect about what you’re thankful for.

Thankfulness is something that is personal and controllable. What are you thankful for?

I am thankful for:

  • My family, the love, support that comes with that structure. Thankful for my friends, who accept but challenge me to grow and become a better person.

  • The people who fight for the health of others. Those that fight for love, equity and inclusion of all people. Those who see both successes and setbacks in the next step in their journey.

  • Our nurses, staff, workers, IT team, faculty and leaders for making EARJ a school that cares about the immediate needs, safety and future of our children, and I am thankful for the amazing professionals that I get to work alongside and learn from.

  • The love and kindness of our students and community, which is expressed in actions that show gratitude and appreciation for those in need. They are tutoring, helping animal shelters, sewing face masks for people in Rocinha, organizing toy and food drives for the coming holidays, raising funds for our workers, and continuing to work consistently in many community service initiatives.

  • And of course, thankful for our Panther MUN delegates for their fantastic accomplishments this semester and for our student athletes that during this semester practiced sports and competed virtually with great results for our school. They became the champions in 4 out of the 5 sports, with the largest participation of all the participating schools.

What are you thankful for? Thanks to everyone reading this article, who in many ways, large and small, can, has and will continue to change other’s lives showing others your appreciation. For that, I am thankful.

Claudia Araya
Athletics & Activities Director

The power of Passion

November 18, 2020

One of the things I really enjoy is to work with people younger than me. Not just 2 or 3 years younger, but from a different generation – I have great friends who were my interns or trainees in the past that have become amazing professionals. Apart from the fact that I loved to learn and to hear their fresh ideas, I found it rewarding to push them to take risks, to make them feel confident to discover their passions.

I believe passion is a game changer. When you feel good about someone (no matter if it’s a Lower School crush, a High School sweetheart, or the love of your life), you want to make a good impression, say the right words, make the right moves. If it’s a passion for what you do, time seems to fly. There’s this strange energy, this fuel that keeps you moving and gets nothing but the best out of you.

Passion is not something you bump into everyday, though. You need to feel inspired, to be open, to “practice new”. Practice builds confidence and also helps you learn that although you will not thrive everytime, it is worth taking the risk.

So a few days ago I received the cutest video from the Lower School team, with kids trying new things like doing pirouettes, surfing, skaterolling. They were taking risks, experimenting things they never did before, feeling the rush. It was part of their exploration of the PYP Learner Profile Attributes. At some point, they would explain why they considered themselves risk takers, feeling proud about themselves no matter if they went well or not. They were proud because they tried. They were feeling the grounds of a new activity that could lead or not to a new passion. Most importantly, they were developing their confidence.

At EARJ, students are inspired to take risks, to try new activities in sports, arts, social responsibility, leadership, and so many other things. They may or may not quickly connect with some of these activities, but what will echo in the future, either in their personal or their professional lives, is that they developed their confidence and were always inspired in trying something new.

Inspiration ignites passion. Passion leads to purpose. Purpose defines the path. It’s no surprise that at EARJ, we are passionate about our purpose to help our students find their path.

Cristina Conforto
Director of Advancement

The value of educating our children in a social work environment

November 3, 2020

As Director of Human Resources here at EARJ, I spend a lot of time thinking about people. If you Google “making the company more human” you will find over 4 million results of your search.

Perhaps due to the pandemic, companies the world over have woken up to the critical importance of social and interpersonal skills in the workplace. This is something that we maybe take for granted at EARJ. Ours is a school where people come first. We understand that a critical element of being a successful adult is your ability to work collaboratively and empathetically with other people. This is why it is so important that our school values social skills in our programs and in how we support the growth of our students.

Actively listening is vitally important to success in our globally connected lives. They say: “Listening is not the absence of talking, but the presence of attention; is not simply hearing, it is understanding.” The world is increasingly growing smaller when one considers the rapid forms of communication and travel available and the businesses utilizing each. We are learning exponentially more about our world, universe, and selves. Living in a community where each individual is heard – being a student, a parent, or an employee matters. As a mom, knowing that each child is recognized as having unique needs at EARJ is a blessing.

Just as “the whole is greater than the sum of parts”, we achieve more by working together than through individual efforts. In my experience at EARJ, senior graduation is a perfect example of the benefits of long-term collaboration efforts. Each young adult carries with them the work of many people who cared for and educated them over the years. They are impacted by the experiences and learnings they had with colleagues, parents, and with the newest and the experienced global network of educators from Brazil, the United States, Canada, and the UK, to name a few places in the world.

No professional life thrives without healthy connections. Making EARJ a safe place for our students and employees is paramount. Our academic and non-academic staff are highly trained and know that their individual contribution and attitude impact us all in this area. Last July, Dr. Doug Walker, a family psychologist and specialist in childhood trauma, worked with our employees. He emphasized that vigilant safeguarding and support of our people pays off. Even in a chaotic context such as the pandemic, the EARJ employees and parents’ daily routines to stay present, centered, and grounded – presently or virtually – kept us connected. And for that, we all should be very proud.

Communicating, actively listening to each other, collaborating, and staying connected – These are nothing short of making history, and I count myself and my family lucky and honored for being part of our community.

Ana Paula Stadelmann
Director of Human Resources