PJI Circles Address Grief and Resilience Within the Valencia Community

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Message from Celine Kavalec, PJI Academic Coordinator and Professor, English, and Rachel Allen, Director, PJI

Finding the courage to talk about what we are going through is one step to growing personal resilience. Courage and authenticity are needed now, more than ever, as we navigate our current challenges.

Over the last three weeks, PJI, in partnership with Organizational Development and Human Resources, has hosted a series of healing circles to build resilience within our Valencia family by connecting through our stories. Each one of us has a story to tell about how we are walking through our days. These safe spaces are created to remove blaming and shaming and to welcome honest, open sharing of our personal experiences, struggles and triumphs.

With the grief that surrounds us due to the current racial terror tragedies, the death toll of the virus, the financial fallout of the pandemic, and the uncertainty of our future, participants express appreciation for the space to process their struggles and grief, and find support in the group setting.

As Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, writes, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” In these Circles, people are able to express their vulnerability and find support and strength from one another. Some attendees are returning to the Circles week after week to share how they are really doing — an act of courage in and of itself.

One participant said, “…the three questions and time to share personal challenges during these times helped me feel a lot less alone.” Another participant shared that, “…having this organized during the week was such a treat … It made me feel more connected than usual!”

People joining the groups represent all areas of the College and bring diverse experiences to share and relate to one another. These 75-minute “Circles” on Zoom include mindfulness practice, the Principles for How We Treat Each Other, as well as a poem, a prompt to guide the sharing, and a gratitude practice.

Part-time Faculty of Humanities Josh Bell, a Circles facilitator shared, “I have been so grateful to be part of the PJI Circles. The vulnerability of our participants has created a safe space where people can truly share their experience. This has allowed me and our other participants to feel heard and supported during this turbulent season.”

Human connection and a community of support are significant ways to build personal resilience. PJI Circles are offered weekly on the following days and times:

Please note that the last session will be held on Thursday, July 2, 2020. 

  • Tuesdays, 12 – 1:15 p.m.
  • Wednesdays, 4 – 5:15 p.m.
  • Thursdays, 7 – 8:15 p.m.
  • Fridays, 10 – 11:15 a.m.

Whether you’d like to discuss racial terror tragedies, the coronavirus, the financial fallout of the pandemic, the uncertainty of our future or another topic, come join us. This is a safe space for conversations about anger, fears, pain, hopes and responsibilities to each other during these unimaginable times.

To register for a circle, click here. Participants are always welcome to join multiple Circles.

In addition to Circles, colleagues can find support through the College’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and other resources offered through Organizational Development and Human Resources, including weekly yoga and meditation.

Faculty are encouraged to enroll in a summer session of the PJI Academy for Teachers in order to learn how to create trauma-sensitive classrooms and support students to grow their resilience in response to COVID-19. Learn more about the PJI Academy for Teachers here.

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