Hyde School Visits China: Family Workshop in Beijing

By Laura Gauld, Head of School and Executive Director, Boarding Schools

June 8, 2013 –We spent the day with seven Hyde families of the following students; Kitty, Lily, Ray, Bryan, Jason, Wang Xi, Tiffany and Steve. The first exercise was a mingle with the five words using the time honored “inner/outer circle” format. Parents jumped right in. Lily Baba spoke about integrity in his business and how important it is when you are dealing with challenges at work. Ray and Bryan’s mother said about concern, “In my life, I take care of everyone else before me; my children, my mother and my co-workers. I need more concern for myself.”

Timeline Exercise
Timeline Exercise

The group then broke into two groups and shared life stories. Again, everyone spoke and applause followed every comment. After the life stories, each person created a timeline of the important events and feelings during different stages of their life. The timelines were carefully done with a lot of effort displayed. Several students and parents listed Hyde as an important event in their life. Kitty’s father said, “I have never told my life story to anyone and certainly not my daughter.”

After a catered lunch, the group split into role play situations with the students playing the parents and vice versa. While the exercise started with much laughter, it got serious when the students challenged the parents with their issues of control and total focus on SAT prep. The faculty was able to share our own experiences taking hold and letting go when it came to our children. After the role plays, each family worked on a family motto and wrote them on a special card.

The day ended with families writing letters to each other about the following:

  • What did I learn today
  • What can I do to strengthen myself
  • What does my family mean to me

We stayed in the big group and each person stood up and shared their letters. There was emotion and a sense of unity in the room. While some of the parents struggled with putting down their cell phones, they kept in the game. At the end, Steve’s father jumped to the front of the room with an impromptu speech about how uncertain he was about Hyde in the beginning and then talked about how important the Hyde concept was to the world. (We finally had to stand near him to help him stop talking.)

At the circle wrap –up, we went around and shared the take away. While we could not understand many of the words, the feeling was palpable. Jason’s Aunt said, “I am so glad that I came. This should be happening in every school.” Other action steps included, “I need to listen and learn from my daughter” and “I need to appreciate my parents and their work ethic.”

As we took the group photo, everyone felt connected and proud to be part of the Hyde community. On to Shanghai!   LDG