I have had the pleasure of writing three belief statements in my life (so far). I wrote my first belief statement, called a credo statement, when I was 14 years old as part of my coming of age ceremony at the Unitarian Universalist Church (incidentally Chelsea, Laraine (Petrolina’s one and only English fellow) and I are all UUs!). Then, I put what I believed on paper again during my fifth year free at Agnes Scott College as part of a series called Agnes Scott Believes based on the National Public Radio (NPR) series This I Believe.
While our 12-year-old credo statements at church were mostly angsty cries evoking the right to privacy and freedom to do as we pleased (aka make stupid decisions without parental interference), the Agnes Scott Believes series was, as everything at my wonderful college was, life changing. I’ll never forget the story our feisty College President Kiss (who continues to be one of my most cherished role models) told about her Hungarian Grandfather, who chose to plant a bed of roses with the handkerchief-sized plot of land he was alloted by the then-communist regime. She used the image to illustrate her belief in optimism.
After that day, her words and her idealism became such a part of my life that I wished to share the formative experience. And so after the initial two months of an English Writing Course I offered at the IF- Sertão, Petrolina Campus, the course evolved into IF Sertão Believes, and belief statements became a part of my life for a third time.
The class began in December (during my time at home in the USA) as an English Writing at a Distance course. Ten weeks later when I returned to Brazil, we began IF- Sertão Believes. Over the final weeks, 5 students who will forever be near and dear to my heart, thought deeply (in English!) about what it was they believed. On the last day of class (last week), after the final peer revision, they submitted their 300-500 word statements and voice recordings to the This I Believe Website. You can see what they wrote in the scribd document embedded in this post. I encourage all of you reading this post to 1- take a moment to be still, 2-ruminate and then 3-write about what it is you believe and why! Feel free to send me some thoughts!!
Then we celebrated with cake and I was gifted this adorable t-shirt, which says Amigos para sempre!, “Friends Forever,” which I know we will be!
Thank you – Raquel, Aline, Luzanira, Iane, Sandra and Sergio — for such a rich and inspiring class.