Communications Office student writer Melissa “Aurelie” Kaleka ’24 attended a Know Thyself 101 workshop on Oct. 2. Here she shares her impressions.
Michael Tennant ’04 is founder of Curiosity Lab, a Black-owned company that focuses on building community through empathy. He and his partner, Caroline Bel-Kher, visited Hamilton on Oct. 2 to lead 70 students through a Know Thyself 101 Workshop hosted by the Career Center.
Designed to give first-year students, sophomores, and juniors the tools to help develop empathy and mindfulness skills, the workshop used team-building exercises and facilitated discussions to give students the chance to share their thoughts and be listened to. I wasn’t sure what to expect entering the workshop but was surprised to find such an intimate and open environment created among such a large group of people.
This is in large part thanks to Tennant, who began the session by being vulnerable himself. He shared stories of how the pandemic and the death of his brothers affected him. This encouraged students to be candid and to trust their classmates to provide uninterrupted space to share feelings. Everyone was comfortable in letting themselves be vulnerable, even if there was a prize incentive for volunteers.
The workshop was divided into large-group discussions and activities in smaller breakout rooms. Tennant discussed mindfulness routines, how to recognize emotions and values, and ways to channel your purpose, while offering personal anecdotes and lighthearted jokes. He then sent participants off with student facilitators for more intimate conversations.
Prompting the discussion were questions and topics featured in Actually Curious, a card game Curiosity Lab created to build meaningful relationships through dialogue. Although having to speak in a breakout room of 10 students seemed daunting at first, facilitators handled it well by allowing students the time to think and then commenting on their answers to show that they listened.
In the end, representatives from every breakout room were tasked with sharing something from their groups, opening up more discussion about empathy and community. Everyone was much more eager to share their thoughts and other students’ words as a show of active listening. Students left the workshop with a new understanding of empathy — two valuable decks of Actually Curious cards they can use in the future.