The Real World Runs on Relationships

The Real World Runs on Relationships

I grew up overseas and moved back to America when I was 18, where I quickly became obsessed with learning the rules. I wanted to know exactly how to respond to various questions, what clothes to wear to each setting, how fast or slow to drive, which jokes would provoke a laugh, and which jokes would make people back away in horror.

Despite all my work to learn and follow the rules, I never really figured them out well enough to feel comfortable.

Over time, it gradually dawned on me that the rules weren't the foundation to how things worked here. Relationships were. Realizing this freed me to stop trying to decode everything, be myself, grow healthy relationships, and begin finding my place in the world.

If we want to prepare our students for life in the real world, we have to equip them to navigate relationships well.

Setting up rules and punishing students who violate them may help set parameters, but it doesn't build a base from which people make wise choices in a complex, relational world.

The foundation for our discipline begins with relational connection. Our students are given a secure spot with a group of peers who are their "pod" throughout their life with us. This long-term connection gives them chances to resolve conflict, play, solve problems together, and build stable, long-term relationships.

Students grow under the care and guidance of a mentor who shares their background. Our mentors grew up in our neighborhood, understand the lives and challenges of our students, and work each day to help the next generation learn and grow.

We treat our students as whole people. Each student brings their own background and personality into our programs. Instead of trying to suppress that to create an "ideal" student, we welcome them in and stay present with them as whole people. This means they choose their own greeting when they enter, we ask how each person is feeling, and we solve problems as they arise by working things out personally and interpersonally.

Resolving conflict is still a regular practice at Presencia, but our proactive work on relationships gives our staff and students the structure, stability, and acceptance they need to work things out and grow.

Have a great weekend,

Ian North
Co-founder, Development Director

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