Scheduling a time just to hang out seems rather odd, but busyness is a reality here just as it is elsewhere. Before we moved here, we used to say, "If you don't put it on the calendar, it won't happen!" Well, we say the same thing here. Thus, even though all of our staff wants to spend quality time with the students, it doesn't seem to happen unless we're intentional. From this realization came our formally organized fellowship groups; several students "assigned" to a few teachers and/or staff to build relationships. So, as formal as it felt, we literally sat down with our "assigned" students and scheduled times just to hang out.
It is such a great learning experience just to hang out. When we hang out, the students are themselves, not pupils fixated on taking notes. And, I'm sure, they see us as real people, not just teachers fixated on lecturing till their hands get cramped. But hanging out also has a way of revealing our differences. The other night we had four of our group members over to play a game and watch a movie. After playing spoons, which was met with screams and laughter, we watched the newer version of "Freaky Friday." Karyn and I both agree that the students were way more entertaining than the movie. It's difficult to explain, but when westerners watch movies, we are somewhat removed from what's going on on the screen. We are so used to movies, that we watch them critically, if not a little analytically (we're all movie critics). Sure, we laugh, and we are moved, but with some reservation. Not so these students! The movie was punctuated with ooo's and ahh's, laughter, and delight. Even physically they reacted. Hiding their faces in embarassment, eyes opened wide in wonder, hands over their mouths in shock, they felt every bit of the movie. It was actually quite refreshing. Here were these (young) adults fully opening themselves to the gamat of emotions elicitted by the movie , and they loved it. And we loved it.
So we learned something: even if it requires being intentional, it's worth hanging out. Who's on your calendar?