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Learning to Trust

Negativity, aggression and lack of self-control

There are some schools where it feels like everybody has problems. And that is exactly the sort of school where Kav L’Noar sent Hodaya, to mentor a group of French speaking girls.

Most of the students in Hodaya’s group have parents who are either working in low paid jobs, or not at all. Their families came from areas in France known to be problematic, with a lot of crime.  They came to Israel to get away from the anti-Semitism rather than because of any positive connection with Israel. All of this usually results in a lot of negativity, strain and pressure at home. Their teenagers absorb it all, while dealing with the usual adolescent hormones and social pressure.

The girls in Hodaya’s group struggle with self-control. They can be physically aggressive,  they attack each other verbally and betray confidences, and they have trouble focusing on individual tasks. And because so many of them are like that, there has been a complete breakdown of trust. Nobody will admit to having or liking anything, for fear of having it taken or thrown back in their face. Nobody tries to do anything well, for fear of being mocked and humiliated for their effort.

Establishing trust is the most difficult task of all

The only way that Hodaya could reach these girls therefore, was by somehow establishing trust. But teaching this group to trust her and ultimately, each other, was the most difficult task of all.  Hodaya has had to show the girls, from the very first meeting, that she trusted and respected them. She has also had to demand trust and respect in return towards herself and towards each other.

There are very clear rules in the group about how they can behave in the sessions. Hodaya holds the group to these rules, so that they all feel equally safe. In her private sessions with each group member, Hodaya is careful to show the girls that she genuinely cares about them, is listening to what they have to say, and respects them for who they are. She has introduced ‘compliment time’ where they all take turns to compliment each other, on their clothes, on a word they used, on anything they can think of. Very slowly, the dynamic of the group is shifting, becoming more open and less defensive. Hodaya has even brought her own puppy into class to give the girls the chance to practise affectionate behavior with no fear of rejection.

Hodaya hopes that with time, the girls will start to put their new skills into practice even when she’s not there to encourage them. Above all, she hopes that each girl will have the courage to stop hiding behind each other and reach out for something that brings them joy.

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