Trans-Atlantic Success Story

Neuroscience tells us that connecting to others feels good and does good, and that was certainly the case this past week when ten student visitors and two teachers from Spain arrived at Parker.  Our families took them in; our students welcomed them with open arms and curiosity; and everyone formed new friendships.

The St. Peter’s trip blog reveals what our visitors found different about life at school at Robert C. Parker School in Albany, NY: a huge playground connected to a forest; playing with “sledges” going down a hill; making plaster masks of their own faces in art class; having “lunch in boxes that their Mom prepares for them.”  Parker students were inspired by the level of English that their new friends have mastered; that they also speak Catalan, Spanish, and French; and that they know many of the same American pop songs.

In Barbara Fredrickson’s NY Times article Your Phone vs. Your Heart, she describes the connection between head and heart, reminding us that social interaction with others increases our capacity for connection, friendship and empathy.

“When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other,” she says.

That’s what the week was really about – the connections we made.  Everyone remarked about it all week as we smiled and felt happy with refreshed empathy and understanding.

We got to practice being warm and welcoming hosts, building empathy and friendships that cross the Atlantic.  The world feels smaller and our hearts feel larger!