Introduction of Resilience in the Country of a Thousand Hills

As The Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda is known for its many beautiful hills and mountains which are prevalent throughout the country.

Hiking up one of these hills to reach the peak requires considerable resilience. As a result, many people start the journey and never finish.

However, for those that do make it to the top, they realize benefits that those left behind will never see. The views from these peaks offer stunning panoramas of the surrounding terrain and create lasting memories of beauty for those who achieve the goal of making it to the top.

Teacher Resilience Training | CorStone Youth First Rwanda
An introduction of Resilience for teachers | CorStone Youth First Rwanda training

Spreading resilience throughout Rwanda starts with training

CorStone’s Youth First Rwanda | YFR personal resilience and health program was introduced in Rwanda in November 2020.

Youth First is implemented by local NGO partner Inspire, Empower, Educate Rwanda | IEE, with support from the Rwanda Education Board. The program primarily targets 12-14-year-old students and aims to improve their psychological, social-emotional, and physical wellbeing.

In December 2020, we were thrilled to begin training the first team of teacher facilitators to lead the program in schools.

In this training, we introduced the 24 topics that make up the Youth First curriculum, to equip teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to effectively transfer the session content to students.

An introduction of resilience includes goal setting

One of the training session themes focuses on defining and setting personal goals. To begin the session, we look inward and think about our own goals.

Setting goals to measure progress| CorStone Rwanda Teacher Resilience Training
Measuring improvement begins with goals

While leading this training, I asked the teachers, “Do you have personal goals that you intend to achieve in the next five years?”. Surprisingly, no one answered my question.

So, I asked, “What of the next three years?
Nothing.

What about one year from now?
Silence.

When I probed further, I learned none of these teachers could speak to a single goal they have set for themselves.

Why don’t you have set goals?” I asked.
Going to an unknown destination involves challenges. Ups and downs are inevitable and generally, people fear or dislike challenges.” one teacher told me.

Going to an unknown destination involves challenges. Ups and downs are inevitable and generally people fear or dislike challenges.
Rwanda Teacher | Youth First Training Participant

I don’t set goals because I do not achieve them,” another said. “For instance, I come up with so many New Year’s resolutions but at the end of the year, the things I planned for haven’t changed. So why should I go through it?

The discussion went on like this and left me troubled.

I learned that most of the teachers in the group were tolerating situations in their lives that made them unhappy. For instance, some teachers are uncomfortable with their very low levels of spoken English.

Youth First Rwanda Resilience Training | CorStone
Teacher training includes defining + setting practical, measurable goals | CorStone Youth First Rwanda

Better results begin with small, measurable goals

There were many who shared how their teaching skills and their lives, in general, could be improved by greater fluency in English.

This seemed to be a clear example of a goal that one could work towards in order to improve their happiness and life trajectory. Together, we discussed how to break down the end goal into smaller steps.

What if you plan to read one English book every month? How will your language be at the end of each subsequent month? And then how would it be in one year?

A similar example was used for a teacher who has been staying in a rental house for 10 years but doesn’t see how she can plan for a mortgage to own her house.

As we broke down these large goals into small manageable pieces, the teachers got excited. The various paths to achievement seemed thrilling and inspiring.

Soon, the group was helping each other envision the practical steps that build to attainable goals.

I didn’t know that better outcomes are attained outside of my comfort zone.
Rwanda Teacher | Youth First Training Participant

After the discussion ended and the session was over, one of the teachers approached me privately.

He said, “I wish such lessons were introduced to me 10 years ago when I was young. I can’t imagine what I could have accomplished by now! I have been so content with what is familiar to me. I didn’t know that outside my comfort zone is where better things are attained.

Measurable metrics on the path to positive change

At CorStone, we believe an introduction of Resilience must include setting goals as a potent activity for youth and adults alike.

Goals provide the direction you need to reach your destination, the motivation to sustain you on your trip, and a way to measure your progress—not unlike climbing up a mountain.

A goal does not have to be huge or life-changing. One can start with simple things, also known as “micro-goals”, that he/she wants to achieve in the near term.

Achievement of goals, even small ones, results in positive emotions and happiness.

How setting practical, #measurable #goals improves outcomes for #positive #change | CorStone Click To Tweet

Essential resilence tools for navigating a new year

As we enter the New Year and think about what we envision for ourselves in 2021, consider not just setting goals, but also the skills and a realistic plan to follow through.

Self-efficacy is the mindset that one develops that makes him/her believe that they have the ability to achieve the set goal. Self-esteem is having confidence in one’s own worth or abilities.

Together, with optimism and persistence, we are better equipped to set realistic goals, identify the incremental steps to achieve them, and attain our dreams.

These skills, and many others, are part of CorStone’s YFR program, working to build resilience among teachers, students, and communities in Rwanda. The program is currently being implemented in a small number of pilot schools in Kigali, with the goal to bring the program to hundreds of additional schools throughout the country within the next 3 years.

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