On a normal 23rd April, the streets of Barcelona would be lined with rose and book sellers, creating a sea of red and green wherever you look in the city. On a normal 23rd April, the streets would be bustling with life and excitement, romance in the air and couples of all ages walking together, hand in hand, perusing book stands. On a normal 23rd April, children would be running up and down the streets exclaiming with delight in anticipation of seeing a representation of the story of George and the dragon, (el drac de Sant Jordi) and in schools and homes throughout Catalunya, children would be hearing tales of knights and princesses (or in the case of my home this year, female knights and princes -- my boys chose the theme!) encouraging a love of reading and stirring their imagination.
But these are not normal times. And that's ok. History has shown us that some of the greatest love stories and friendships are born from extraordinary and adverse times. And that in challenging times, a love for your fellow community, friends and neighbours, can grow stronger.
Today is Sant Jordi (St. George's Day), one of the greatest and most poetic Catalan traditions whereby couples, parents, grandparents and lovers offer each other a rose or a book as a symbol of love and friendship. And never was there a more relevant time to call for love and friendship than now at a time where some are feeling isolated and alone. Recently, some of our learners participated in an opt-in "adelante workshop" (if you don't know what an adelante or genius hour is, read about it here) on random acts of kindness. If ever there were a time for acts of kindness, it is now.
Confinement and social distancing has also changed our habits. Social meet-ups and 'Tinder dates' have been replaced by teleconferencing and group call apps like Houseparty. Dancing and raves have been replaced by choreographed dances and workouts (much to the embarrassment of teenagers the world over as their parents discover a sudden enthusiasm for TikTok dances). But the essence is still the same. It all comes down to positive relationships. If we have solid, trusting and loving relationships they can withstand any kind of technology, the best and the worst of it. Our recent "much loves" shared by learners for our Learning Guides, in celebration of Sant Jordi, shows just how important and central positive relationships are to a healthy learning experience.
So if you have five minutes today, here are a few suggestions on what you can do to share a random act of kindness to celebrate Sant Jordi:
- Surprise someone you care about by sharing a "much love" with them. A "much love" is a show of appreciation or gratitude to that person for something they have done or why they are special to you as a person. As Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said we often wait too long to tell others we care: "If I knew this is the last time I see you, I would tell you I love you, and not just assume foolishly that you knew it already." -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera.
- Send a message of support to those who are in hospital, unable to see friends and family at this time. You can do this here by sending a "Letter of Love"
- Give yourself some time and self-care today by taking some time out in your day to read a book or do something that gives you joy. My grandmother used to say "Books are friends so you need to treat them kindly and with love. If you do, they will stay with your throughout your life". As a child, I remember thinking "How can a book be a friend if it can't speak?" but over the years I have understood what she meant. It was about giving ourselves time for self-reflection and learning to love ourselves, be kind to ourselves and others, and ensure we create space for lifelong friendships and relationships.
- Bake something and share with your neighbours or even better, leave it on their doorstep with a note, ring their doorbell and run away to hide! :)