Alumni Corner: Continuing to Spread Compassion after Graduating

by Kala Grant, Student Open Circles alumni and board member

Last April I set off with 10 co-workers to build a school and educate a small community in Nicaragua for 9 days. This was my first opportunity to practice and teach (the best I could) mindful leadership: the act of slowing down and focusing, in order to make thoughtful decisions. Our group of volunteers was unique. What we all had in common was that we all worked in a fast paced tech based company. Our daily lives consisted of making phone calls, answering emails, ensuring customers were happy, negotiating with some difficult people, working late when needed and trying to get enough rest that night so we could wake up the next day and be amazing at our jobs all over again.

Leading up to the trip, I was having a fair bit of anxiety trying to figure out exactly what kind of impact I could possibly have. I was used to sitting behind an air conditioned desk and had enough trouble opening doors, let alone lifting 40 pound bricks and digging 5 foot ditches in humid 30 degree plus weather!

I was thrilled when our group leaders suggested that we reflect on our volunteer experience each day, because I knew what a positive impact it had, attending weekly reflection circles with Student Open Circles during my last year at McMaster. Naturally, I felt drawn to leading these daily reflections, and a resource library provided by Jeff and Marybeth ended up being the key to some brilliant group insights, team bonding and discovering how to serve the community we found ourselves in!

It was a special experience and I have Student Open Circles to thank in my journey to help spread compassion.

Read a more detailed account of Kala’s experience