On January 3, 2020, thirty-one students who were nominated by Arts faculty attended the College of Arts’ annual one-day symposium focusing on Empathy in Action, core to the development of mindful leadership. The day included a keynote address, three workshop sessions and a lunch panel.
Keynote speaker, Swil Kanim presented a talk entitled “The Art of Honour,” which used music and audience interaction to explore the elements of honour and how we can recognize and use these elements in all aspects of our lives.
“One of the biggest takeaways that I got from today was from our keynote speaker, and how he was talking about how important it is to honour ourselves. I had never really thought about it in that way, that staying true to yourself is actually honoring yourself and by that way you can relate to others more authentically. He also spoke about compassion towards our own selves too, and I think that can be really important as students to remember to reflect on your own mental health and relate empathetically to yourself and, you know, give yourself a break if you need one,” said Hailey Berge, a student attendee and panelist.
The symposium also held three workshop sessions throughout the day. Session one “Empathy Activate! Everyday practices for building empathy and strengthening relationships” was given by Angela Low, a specialist in emotional intelligence and developmental psychology from the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education. Low spoke about empathy as a key ingredient for building positive relationships, resolving conflicts, and creating inclusive and peaceful environments. Session two “Non-Violence Communication” was given by Dr. Steven Schroeder, a Teaching Chair in the Peace and Conflict Studies program and Associate History Professor at UFV. Dr. Schroeder held a non-violence communication breakout session introducing participants to a manner of relating and communicating that optimizes connection and fosters peaceful relationships.
The third session was also given by Swil Kanim, which further elaborated on his keynote presentation and was entitled: “The Art of Honour in Action.” This session was an interactive group discussion that led students through processes and exercises that demonstrate how honour can work in everyone’s life.
The day also featured five student panellists who shared their experiences and expertise about Empathy in Action.
Overall, students gave positive reviews about the day and what they had learned. They especially liked Kanim’s inspiring and authentic story-telling, and his connection between empathy and honour. As well, they enjoyed Low’s excitement and passion, and Schroeder’s detailed breakdown of communication (learner versus judger).
This year’s artwork was designed by UFV Visual Arts student Chantelle Trainor-Matties, which was incorporated into the symposium’s logo.
The artwork Chantelle created for the Student Leadership Symposium was inspired by the images that were generated when she typed in “empathy” into the Google search engine. A common theme is always having two persons, one empathizing with the other, connecting.
She wanted to incorporate these ideas in her own way, first creating an original abstract palette knife type painting, the colorful paint both representing their connection and emotions. She then finished it off by digitizing the painting and turning it into a vector graphic, combing her two main art practices, painting and graphic design.
Planning for the next annual 2021 Student Leadership Symposium is already underway. Stay tuned for next year’s theme, design and layout.
If you would like to get involved in the planning process or if you have any questions, please email us: ArtsEvents@ufv.ca.
To continue to discuss Empathy in Action and move from words to action, we have created a private Facebook group for student leaders. Click here to join the group.