Working to Build a Healthy and Happy Boarding Community
Ms. Jieun Kim,
Don, Shin Saimdang & Counseling Intern
The Boarding Peacemakers led a workshop called “Under Pressure” for Grades 5-6 living in Shin House. The objective of the workshop was to start a conversation about academic pressure and stress. It was reported in the Korean Herald (2022), “957 children and adolescents ages 9-24 took their own lives -- almost two per day -- indicating an increase for the fourth year in a row” in 2020. Although the reason for committing suicide cannot be generalized, students are under high levels of stress due to cultural and familial pressure to perform well in education (Moon, Uskul & Weick, 2018). The workshop was a response to the conversations the Teacher Don in Shin is having with the Grades 5-6. It was a preventative measure for students to identify and express their struggles and know that someone is listening to support them and by their side.
The workshop started off with a phone call from a mom overseas to one of the Boarding Peacemakers - the phone was connected to the Bluetooth speaker. It was playing music to get the workshop started, and everyone in the room could hear the mom through the speaker saying, “I am upset about your grades! I sent you all the way to Jeju, and I am disappointed." The student tried to tell the mom she is in the middle of a workshop and they should talk later. However, the mom did not want to hang up, so the student ran out of the room. Then the rest of the Boarding Peacemakers gossiped about the grade that this student received. An uncomfortable silence fell in the room.
The silence was broken as the Boarding Peacemakers revealed that it was a skit to get the conversation started. The participants were divided into small groups to talk about the theme in the scene about pressure and gossip. The Boarding Peacemakers continued the workshop through a presentation on pressure and stress and how to cope with them. When they talked about the Stress and the Pressure Performance Curve, the participants reflected on where they were in the curve: Boreout, Optimal performance, and Burnout. There were more students in Boreout and Burnout than Optimal performance. One of the Boarding Peacemakers remarked that it seems that due to the stress and pressure to perform well, students are working too hard and then burning out, which results in Boreout–where they are not motivated to study at all. The workshop ended with the Boarding Peacemakers offering their support to Grades 5-6. They shared their contacts and offered counseling sessions, with the guidance of dons and myself, as a Counseling Intern. The Boarding Peacemakers are trained in Restorative Practice and are working to build a healthy and happy boarding community.