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Self Evaluation and Reflection

Shirah Kraus's picture

I chose to handwrite my reflection and draw images with it. I have transcribed it below.

When I think about what EMERGED from our conversation, I think about growth, about a tree literally emerging from the earth and stretching upward. I think about where I was at the beginning, where I am now and where the seasons will take me. I think about where I have blossomed and where, for lack of sun or water, I have not grown as much. I was listening to another On Being episode--I think I might be slightly obsessed--and the poet Mary Oliver was discussing her distaste for writing indoors and on a computer. And as I stared at the screen, a small headache forming, words escaped me. I turned to paper and I was moved to draw and write and think more about what I want to say and less about the blinding brightness, distracting tabs, page numbers, and word counts.


My biggest regrets are the times when I did not give my three the nutrients it needed to grow--I wish I had read more and revised more and pushed myself past what I wanted in any given moment. I wish I had done things, read things even if I didn’t want to. I hope to fight that part of myself that loses the excitement and the drive that I begin things with--I love that excited part of myself no only because it makes me happy but also because it enriches the group and makes others happy, too.


I remember one moment when there was a fire drill in my high school while we were changing for gym. It was winter in Cincinnati and there was snow on the ground. As we shivered outside with only shorts and t-shirts, I smiled wide and made jokes with my friends. Although they glowered at my positive attitude, preferring to wallow in complaints, I continued to annoy them with humor and I noticed flashes of grins creep onto their faces. This is who I want to be. Like when we discussed Antigone and I read it again and took lots of notes and participated actively in discussion. I got so much out of it, I learned more about the text and the themes and how it applies to this context. And, I hope, I contributed to the group, to the learning of others.


I am grateful that I have learned so much about silence and education and politics and prison, as well as about my classmates and myself. I love when i can see things in a new way and traveling to prison, actually experiencing the prison system first-hand changed the way I think about it. THe experience made the system more personal, more urgent, more present. Before, I had the privilege of not thinking as much about prison. Now, I can’t avoid doing something about the dehumanization. I am not necessarily “guilty” but I am not “innocent” either. No one is.


I have become so radical politically since coming to Bryn Mawr and I hope to learn more and study more so I can better develop and support my arguments and advocate for what I believe in. This is an edge of my learning and writing that I want to leap from.


I am grateful for the opportunities we had to practice reflection and spirituality--from Anne’s opening silences to Joel’s writing and reflection times to Jody’s space to discuss where we are and want to go to final feeling go-arounds in prison. I loved changing the way I think about silence and becoming more mindful of silences in words. I loved lesson planning, creating spaces to learn and discuss and be together. I loved writing my experimental essays and my posts and I love how I have grown. I loved reading about SNCC and community organizing--it felt so personal and empowering and exciting. I am grateful for the feedback from professors and classmates and for the relationships we have built this semester. It wasn’t always easy or fun and there were times when I just didn’t (want to) do the work. But, especially with the final project, I am glad that I did. I became intrinsically motivated to create the website and enjoyed adding content and arranging the aesthetics. There are so many concrete things and abstract ideas that I felt moved to share with the world and I would not have had that before this 360.


I am most grateful for that, for growing and learning and knowing that I can do something unconventional like this and I can be honest--I was so honest in our conference and I confronted a somewhat vulnerable self that isn’t “the perfect student.”


So where to, now? I don’t want to be “the perfect student,” I just want to keep getting better.


Words from a camp song:

“Peace, peace will come

and let it begin with


“Shalom, shalom yavo sheyatchil iti.”