Today was an unscheduled day off from school.
Christian institutions around the country, in a sign of solidarity, shut their doors in protest over religious attacks in the eastern part of India.
We started the day off with an all-school assembly, during which time some of the details of the conflict were explained. The principal asked a couple of students to place flowers at the base of our flagpole. The finance director reminded everyone they were privileged to be educated. The chaplain spoke to the students, focusing on the little ones. "You shouldn't be afraid. And here's why: Could I ask all the adults in the room to please stand up?" As soon as all one hundred-plus of us stood up, he continued, "Because see all these people? They're here to protect you and keep you safe and love you." In a way, his words touched me, made me think of my responsibilities here in this boarding school community.
The day wasn't completely free. Following the assembly, students returned to their dorms, and high school teachers met to hear about their duties for the day. Each of us was assigned a dorm to supervise for an hour.
I went up to where the senior boys live. It was sunny and almost hot, and the hike up was wonderful. The boys were welcoming, friendly, laid back. We sat around and chatted about things we don't get a chance to talk about in the classroom. I talked to some guys who auditioned for the fall play, to the student director of that play, to the dorm president who is frustrated by the living conditions, to a couple of guys that are helping me start an open-mic coffeehouse in the girls' dorm, to another about a planned Japanese party at my house.
My hour turned into two, and I left knowing that the strike wasn't a blow-off day, wasn't an interruption in the students' education. In fact, it was a day to connect, for teachers to start acting like adults.