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Mindful : February 2014
February 2014 mindful 51 education house they have. It’s all about who they loved and what they did that mattered, in terms of interper- sonal connections,” he says. “These guys are getting watered with empathy in a very fertile way. They’re hearing it and seeing it over a nd over again. For many of them, they realize they may be the last person this resident talks to.” Marshall stresses that the students a re just regu- lar kids, something he managed to capture by giving them all video cameras and asking them to docu- ment what they do for fun outside of school. “It would be easy to see these kids as a special group of kids—kids who are somehow better than other kids,” he says. “They’re just regula r r un-of-the-mill students,” Kane says in a clip from Marshall’s film. Case in point: After she talks about the profound experience of losing her grandmother, Delaney finds out her photo for this article won’t be taken until the next day. “Oh good,” she says with a little-girl grin. “I can do my hair!” Is empathy something that can be taught? Bob Ka ne is circumspect. “I guess it depends on what your model of teaching is,” says Kane, who finished teaching the course last spring and now has plans to move to Ireland with his wife, where he hopes to create a place of spiritual reconciliation in a lodge they have acquired. Another teacher continues his legacy at Harley. “If you are looking at teaching as a struc- tured profession where people get a curriculum and all these standards, I don’t think so. “It needs to be naturally woven in, a nd from what I see, the only way it’s stimulated and nurtured is through touch and contact—when you’re in a v ul- nerable position but you’re willing to open up. When you’re fearful, you step forward and hope the other person will reciprocate.” Kane uses the word “stimulate” deliberately. Because he thinks empathy is in all of us, and it just needs to be prodded. “When you start caring for people who are ill, you understand what empathy is. I think that death, the dying process, is something that is essential to teach and nurture empathy because we all have it in common.” ● Jennifer Campbell is a freelance writer and editor living in Ottawa. She is editor of two magazines, Otta wa Citizen Style and Diplomat & International Canada. Student Delaney Glaze, left, helps hospice resident Wendy to her room with fellow student Sofoniyas Worku, right.