As part of its annual seminar, Assumption France brought together all the head teachers of the network, accompanied by their management team, in Brussels.
First of all, it was an opportunity to spend a full day immersed in Belgian school life, at Assomption Boitsfort (assomption-edu.be). Two primary schools, a secondary school and a high school welcomed us, even in the classrooms, gave us a glimpse of the rhythm and organisation of the school, allowed us to take part in the afternoon workshops and simply allowed us to meet pupils and adults to talk and listen. The metaphor of caring for people was already well spun on that first day, when each participant received a letter written by a Belgian pupil to say, according to him, how the team of Assumption Boitsfort took care of the young people and their progress.
This is indeed our overall theme: forming communities where there is attention to people. To deepen, as it were, that new polite phrase that we hear so often now: "Take care of yourself", by introducing the notion of community. In the case of Saint Marie-Eugénie, Foundress of the Religious of the Assumption, we will speak briefly of the strength of community. She said to Abbot Combalot: "Father, you must help me, I can do nothing on my own. She continued: "With the sisters you will give me, I will be able to speak of the wonders that delight the mind and the mercies that touch the heart”. It is a bit like saying the personal weakness and the strength of the community. From the beginning, the community was present in Marie-Eugénie's thinking, as an essential condition for the work to come. This is why we wanted to follow this theme during the 2022 seminar, in order to better understand the accompaniment that we must have towards each other and to better know all the tools that bring attention to the students.
Thus, we continued in plenary with the remarkable intervention of Sister Véronique MARGRON, President of CORREF, who wrote: "Accompanying is watching over someone who is experiencing the search for unity. She was there to put the value of companionship at the centre, in the sense of walking with one another to build a team and to interact with one another”. She was also there to remind us that accompanying is not about looking after the good of others, but rather about looking after what can become good in one's own eyes, in order to open one's life to the future.
After a presentation by Caroline HENNING, PPPF Referent, of what is called EARS (Education Affective, Relational and Sexual) and PPPF (Programme de Protection des Publics Fragiles), we enjoyed a final plenary session with Sister Anne DESCOUR, Provincial of France of the Religious of the Assumption. In the latest book she co-authored, La Vérité, we read: "Listening forces me to update what I believe, to revise a hierarchy and a system of values, received ideas, it invites me to move”. We took up with her a well-known theme at the Assumption to see how listening favours the transforming power of education: listening transforms both the listener and the listened to, that is active and committed listening; it supposes a real welcome of the other in oneself, a profound welcome of oneself too, as someone who listens and who discovers themself through this very action of listening.
Like regular side steps, the participants took part in several transformation workshops: what listening and prevention mechanisms should be used in schools? What are the attitudes to cultivate in our teams to fight against all abuses and promote self-esteem? How do we react to crisis situations? What protection do we provide? What are the levers that promote quality of life at work? So many questions to get us started, to let ourselves be moved and to enrich our daily lives with new practices.
This stay in Brussels was very much appreciated, not only for the variety of Belgian beers or the quality of the Chips accompanying each dish, but also for the difference that these few days allowed us to make with our established habits and references.
"Be a peaceful person who keeps their peace by giving it to others," writes St. Marie-Eugénie... a beautiful way to form communities where there is care for people.
12 December 2022
Anthony ODIN, Trustee Delegate