BY EMILY HOFF
“Seek first to understand.” These are the words of Mike McIndoe, a former principal of L.V. Rogers.
A couple of years ago, Mike worked for a few weeks in Fort McPherson with his son Ryan, who was teaching at Chief Julius School at the time. Mike helped out the students, and got to know the community and their culture.
This March, Mike came to one of our weekly North/South Exchange meetings in the hope of broadening our minds of Fort McPherson. He came into the classroom, grabbed a pen and wrote the poetic words that have been stuck in my head to this day: “Seek first to understand.”
I know what this means. I know that a head full of experience is clearer than a head full of ignorance and shadow. But as Mike started to talk about his weeks in this small northern town, I began to realize what I would see when our charter plane landed in Fort McPherson.
For all of us, having the students come to Nelson was an experience of a life time. I couldn’t wait until I got to talk to them, got to see what they like and what they do.
Since their departure, I haven’t thought about taking that first breathtaking step into their town. Now as March whizzes past my face, I think about how different it will be for us up there.
Mike began with an introduction into Fort McPherson. He showed us a slideshow of the landscape and the surrounding area. When he got onto the topic of Chief Julius School, he said that he was taken aback by the attitude of the students.
Many students filtered into their classes by midday. He couldn’t grasp their attention.
Mike told us that he had assumed many things by just walking into the school. He assumed these things before he searched for answers. Mike told his story to warn that it will happen to us too. Every human judges and assumes by what they see. They relate what they see to past experiences. But we must explore these unknown territories. We must search for new openings and clear our thoughts and feelings that come crashing into us like an angry tidal wave as we enter Fort McPherson. Clear them to make room for new feelings.
Thanks to Mike, we have an idea of what it will look like up there.
Now, our group is starting to prepare. We have made packing lists as well as a safety list.
The whole group is building in excitement. Our excitement will soon make way for enlightenment and a new perspective on life. Soon we will meet the students’ families, see their homes and their way of life.
Soon we will enter Fort McPherson. When we return, we will be changed forever.
Emily Hoff is a Grade 9 L.V. Rogers student who is part of the exchange to Fort McPherson