Trayce Peterson talks with QuakerSpeak about how to support young people, the power of speaking truth, and the incredible importance of students finding their voice.
- Trayce says that a place where young people often get tripped up is around their own fear and inadequacy, so she tries to be a cheerleader. What is a time in your life when someone helped you develop that internal voice that allowed you to see yourself and your power more clearly? How might you be that “cheerleader” for someone else?
- In the video, Trayce points out that the founder of Quakerism was a young man with a prophetic message. Where do you see people in this age group bringing prophetic messages to their home communities today? How can we make ourselves open to hearing these messages?
- Trayce holds up that conflict can be useful because it brings to light deeply held values. What are some deeply held values that you’ve seen illuminated by conflict, and how do you speak the truth with love and then engage in the messiness?
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I think the places where young people often get tripped up is around their own fear and their own inadequacy and so often what I tried to do was to be a mirror so that they could actually see themselves more authentically and to try to help them to develop skills so that they could listen more deeply internally instead of the voices of their peers or their parents or so on and so forth.
Mostly I always see myself as this cheerleader: “You can. Yay!” The little Quaker cheerleader.
My name is Trayce Peterson. I live here in Richmond, Indiana. I just finished working at Earlham College, 15 years at the College. I attend Clear Creek Friends Meeting and College Meeting for Worship here on Earlham’s campus.
One of the things that Quaker education does for young people is it enlivens their spirit and helps them to cultivate their own voices.
There is a kind of bravery that, when you’re 18 to 26, that you have. You’re just fierce. That’s really exciting to walk along with young people during this period. It’s very exciting.
If we think about the founder of Quakerism, George Fox was a twenty-something year old person. He was a young man, and he had a prophetic voice and he had something important to say to the society in which he was raised and that nurtured him. A movement was started as a result of his faithfulness to that.
Really the student organizing is that prophetic voice saying, “look at what you are saying and what your literature says about justice and peace, equality, and then what are you doing? Are those two lining up?”
Conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it brings to light deeply held values. Part of the work always is trying to speak the truth in love but speak the truth and then engage in that messiness. Because it isn’t neat. And recognize that even in that frustration that good things can emerge from that and often do.
I think it’s critical to the institution and I know there are naysayers that say that there are professional people who are trained to address whatever the issues are and students have only part of the story, but I think its so valuable and so important because if we are to try to live up to our aspirations, then we have to speak the truth.
That’s not going to get squelched here at Earlham. It will, like weeds, grow up through the crevasses. It’s not going to get silenced. In fact, it’s one of the unique things about this College.