Today, we are facing many challenges and it may seem difficult to find things for which to be thankful. However, I suggest that we should try to be thankful for the challenges themselves.

This week we take two days off school in celebration of American Thanksgiving. The U.S. holiday was made official by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, setting aside a day to thank God for His many blessings and also to pray for those less fortunate. To some, setting aside a day to be grateful in the midst of the current global pandemic may seem incongruous. However, Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday amid a Civil War. The American people were definitely facing many challenges and hardships and were likely more divided than at any other time in history. Yet in the midst of this, a day was set aside to thank God.

Today, we are also facing many challenges, and it may seem difficult to find things for which to be thankful. However, I suggest that we should try to be thankful for the challenges themselves. This quarter, we’ve been talking about building resilience, and resilience by definition is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Without facing and overcoming challenges, we cannot build resilience.

Online learning has been challenging, but I am so thankful that this pandemic occurred at a time when we have access to so much technology. Being able to keep in touch online with friends and family helped to reduce the isolation. Many students, teachers, and parents greatly increased their technology skills over the past year. In the midst of travel restrictions, I am thankful for the opportunity I had to see so much of the beauty and history of Malaysia.

The Obstacle is the Way is an entire book written by Ryan Holiday about overcoming hardships with examples of several leaders throughout history. “While facing profound hardships, Marcus Aurelius used each obstacle as an opportunity to practice patience, humility, courage, reason, and creativity.” The key to building resilience is our attitude towards challenges. If we can set our minds towards growing and overcoming rather than being victims of our circumstances, we can grow and flourish no matter what happens.

Students returning to school this week are again facing challenges in getting back to “normal” — longer school days, walking from class to class, and socializing with friends face to face. We have the opportunity to model a growth mindset, practicing courage and patience. On Monday, the power went out just as we were about to start our first High School SEW chapel. Pastor Bob and the student leaders rose to the occasion, and some students commented afterward that they really enjoyed the “low-tech chapel.” As we take time out this Thanksgiving week to focus on gratitude, I will do my best to practice being thankful for the obstacles and the opportunities they present for growth.

Written by Shawna Wood

Ms. Shawna Wood is dedicated to mentoring and discipling the next generation. Shawna has a Master of Education and has been at Dalat since 2012, first as Middle School principal and now as Deputy Head of school.
Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
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