Stepping Up

Stepping Up

By Dr. Elizabeth Susan V. SuarezDean, College of Performing and Visual Arts

In March of 2014, I was requested by the Early Childhood School of Silliman to give the graduation reflection to the 50-100 five to six year olds going to grade 1. The question that I asked myself was how I could hold the attention of these children and still get my point across. Then there was the question of what point did I really want to share. Then it got to should I include the parents and teachers in this reflection? Upon serious consideration, I decided to create a play that could remind us, parents, teachers and students of five very important phrases that we should know, live by and live out.  In collaboration with my students, we created a short skit, which we performed for the graduating children at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium.

This is the story.

The night before the first day of class, Glen’s mother heard him praying, expressing all his anxieties about going to his first day of class. He was anxious that his classmates would not accept him. His right leg was limp from polio, and  he came from a broken family.  His mother of course reassured him that he was loveable and sweet and would make friends easily. She told him that everyone in that class is anxious to go to the first day of school. Like Mayo, her mother was saying that she was ashamed of her scar behind the back of her neck (as if anyone could see it) and like Glen afraid that no one would be her friend or that she be accepted.

Nonetheless, Glen was scared on that first day of school. His mother, knowing his fears asked the teacher to take a bit of time to look over Glen. When class began, each child was tasked to introduce themselves. When Glen stood up, Ian began bullying him with nasty words that put him down and made him feel smaller and more fearful of what the rest of the day would bring. His seat mate Tina stood up for him and she too got insulted by Ian. 

Bully Ian continued his antics at the playground, together with his co-bullies, they kicked Glen and Tina out of the sandbox and grabbed her toy bear. Then they started to play catch with the bear. Eventually, they themselves ended up fighting and bully Ian got kicked out of the group. When Glen saw this, he pitied bully Ian and told Tina he wanted to make friends. Tina didn’t like this idea but Glen went to Ian anyway. Then Ian asked Glen if his parents fought all the time… or if Glen’s mother always screamed at him at home. He told Glen that he felt unwanted because his mother paid more attention to his brother than she did him.

Glen asked Ian if he wanted to play with his toy car and offered to bring his toy truck the next day. Tina, seeing a friendship growing also joined the group and they became fast friends.

At home, after school, Glen’s mother asked how his day went, he said he was bullied by Ian but eventually forgave him because Ian was just really sad feeling being unwanted at home. His mother then expressed how proud she was of him and thanked him for making her proud. In return, Glen said, “Thank You Mom, for loving me.” The End.

As I summed up the skit to the audience, this is what I said:

Glen was able to show kindness because he grew up with kindness and love. He was able to recognize Ian’s need to have friends despite his own bad experience because he is smart. Glen, while making friends with Ian showed Ian that he was important and most of all, Glen, at an early age learned how to say, “Thank You.” That is gratitude.

That day, each graduate was handed a medal with a red ribbon inscribed with these words:

I am kind… I am smart… I am loved… I am important… and I am grateful.

With children of all ages, wherever they find themselves, in the workplace or at home, there will always be bullies or bullying situations, but should we remember these 5 phrases, the world would be a bit less tense, a bit less stressful and a bit more peaceful.