“Fierce Affirmations”

Emily Shi, Staff Writer

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In the “Creating Connections: Fierce Affirmations” workshop, students practiced lifting each other up and offering praise in order to encourage community building, co-director of the Office for Identity, Culture and Institutional Equity John Gentile said.

Throughout the workshop, students engaged in interactive activities and gave and received affirmations–statements of appreciation–among each other, Gentile said.

After a discussion on the different applications of affirmations to relieve stress, encourage emotional development, and promote healthier habits, the students learned about the five languages of affirmation in a Google Slides presentation, Euwan Kim (11) said.

“Some of the ideas that comprise the languages of affirmation include physical touch, words of appreciation, and favors. We then used these ideas and a general affirmation structure Mr. Gentile taught us to write an affirmation to someone we know,” Kim said.

“Affirmations are an important part of community building and wellness. The positive and joyful energy that is produced when we share the things that we value in others is contagious,” Gentile said.

For Bernard von Simson (11) and Katya Aru (11), the workshop offered a new perspective on friendship. “Mr. Gentile brought out a concept of the way we approach and thank others that I wouldn’t have even thought of before because it seems like a minute detail, but it was so helpful in my personal approach to others,” Aru said.

“I’m going to try [to] incorporate affirmations in my friendships in the future,”Simson said.

Gentile has run the workshop before, and he believes that each different person brings their own ideas and experiences to the table to shape a different approach to the activities, he said.

Gentile gained inspiration to base his workshop off of affirmations from a book called

“Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott,” which outlines the process of having difficult conversations, he said. Gentile used this framework and researched how affirmations impact one’s sense of self in order to develop the process of creating a Fierce Affirmation.

Gentile hopes to show students how to give and create affirmations while also gaining an understanding of their own power and abilities, he said.

“A safe space for affirmations allows us to understand our power in a broader theme of exploring and talking about the things that help us be more grounded in who we are. It is a “meta-moment” to process what we need to be better learners, community members, and friends,’ he said.