From "Headless Chicken" to a Sense of Direction

by Srimann Chari, Open Circle Student

Chari (on floor beside fireplace), at an Open Circle retreat.  Pictured here: students engage in a silent group reflection, creating with clay in response to a question

I have tried to think back to my state of mind before I joined Open Circle, but it is perhaps beyond what I can describe. It brings to mind the image of a headless chicken running around with no sense of direction or purpose. This is, unfortunately, the state of most students (and I think most people), where focus is shifted from one assignment to the next. The most valuable gift Student Open Circles has given me is the ability to reflect. Introspection does not come naturally to me, but Open Circle finds a way to effortlessly seam it together with student life. It has granted me a sense of purpose, and I am no longer doing things simply because a deadline is approaching. I have been granted a new sense of calm, and the ability to control my reactions to the challenges the world has to offer. The plethora of events that Open Circle offers caters to a vast majority of students and helps us in a myriad number of ways. Personally, the weekly reflection circles provide me with a sanctuary to pause, sit back and reflect on what it is that I do every day. I reflect on experiences that shaped who I am, and develop ways to improve my daily interactions with the people around me. The circle allows an open space to express feelings without inhibition and to discover our true selves.

Open Circle also provides a medium of expression for the sense of peace it instills through its volunteer circles. The principle difference between these volunteer circles and other volunteer programs is the mandatory reflection at the end of each session. During a busy school term, volunteering can quickly become another weekly chore, like a 3-hour lecture that you don’t really want to attend. Reflection helps ground you to what you are doing and why you are doing it. The emphasis is placed not only on the children’s development, but also on the volunteer’s growth. It allows volunteers to have a rewarding and challenging experience while pursuing something that makes a visible difference.

Student Open Circles has been integral to my development as a student and as a person. It has given me a reason to continue working to the best of my ability without losing sight of why — to make a positive difference, no matter how small, in my life and the lives of everybody else.