جميع الأفكار

Storytelling and Connection

byHenry Prillaman
onMarch 2, 2022

By: Henry Prillaman, HAF-UVa Intern

Dr. Ben-Meir teaches a class from the fruit tree nursery in Imerdal, which overlooks the burial site of Moroccan Jewish saint Rabbi David-ou-Moche. July 2021. Photo: HAF

In our Global Development in Morocco class with Dr. Ben-Meir, we discussed the need for storytelling and experiencing genuine emotion in both the classroom and in life. In many of my classes, it’s easy to simply attend, leave, and never talk to other people in order to connect on a deeper level. This is different for both this and another class I take called The Science of Happiness. Both of these classes support the discussion of ideas among peers and look at things from new perspectives. Throughout this semester, we have been taken along on travels across Morocco and met so many new and exciting people. We have seen things that we never were able to before and have learned about a faraway place in real time. The storytelling and connection in this class has impacted me in many ways.

Humans have a responsibility to help each other and this class has given me a first-hand view of this happening in Morocco. Going to the women’s cooperative or schools around Morocco and everything in between, we have seen people working together and genuinely connecting with each other. This has inspired me to look more closely at the relationships in my own life and work to foster them and cultivate relationships with those that I want to be closer with.

I think for many of us, this comes from becoming more emotionally mature and realizing what we want in life. When I started college, I was sort of floating along. At least in hindsight it feels that way compared to how I feel now. But I also think it was in part due to feeling like I didn’t have as many genuine connections and wasn’t as emotionally aware of myself. I had close friends, but there is a difference between being close and being close enough to candidly share feelings. Life is all about finding what you love and who you want to be around and sharing the experience together. Whether it’s planting trees for a family or stopping by to say hello to a friend when you could have just kept walking, connection and giving some of yourself to others is very important.

In my class, The Science of Happiness, we have studied many topics that I never considered learning about before. We learn about stress, and about happiness and how to foster it, relationships and friendships, and just generally how to be more in control and live the way we really want to. We also have meditations every week at the beginning of class to get our headspace right and be more present. I had practiced mindfulness some before, but something about having a meditation in a classroom that is typically a lecture hall and being surrounded by many of my peers makes it very different. There’s a sense of community that makes the process all the more special, almost like a collective unconscious. Our professor leads us through exercises with our eyes closed and the lights dimmed, helping guide our minds to a place of peace. I have found meditation to be very helpful for me in awakening different emotions and getting to know myself better. It’s hard to really get to know someone else and connect with them if you don’t know yourself. Having both our Global Development in Morocco class and this happiness class each week has been helpful in keeping focused on where I am and having check-ins with myself to help me stay on the right path.

Connection and telling your story can help you find your place in the world. It’s easy to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of jobs, school, and other activities and lose sight of what really matters: connecting to others and knowing yourself. I’m reading a book titled Happiness Right Now by a Buddhist monk and he talks about not letting your emotions control you but instead realizing they are just thoughts that arise in our human experience. Through both classes and this book, I have become more emotionally aware and continue to work on being more of who I want to be.