Reply To: Integral Clergy of Ancient Egypt Studies course-Assignment-handling the heart and its related behaviors

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Situation where Gottman Principles were invoked.

During summer 2019, I mentored three students on a research project at a laboratory in Long Island, NY. Two of the students were awarded paid summer internships via a research grant that I received at the university where I teach. Indeed, the award was mainly based on their previous performances in my class. In a word, these students demonstrated a high aptitude level on their exams, homework and quizzes. Therefore, their selection for the research internship was easy, so to speak. The other student, a local Long Island resident who attends a university in upstate NY, was highly motivated as well. To prepare for the summer project, the two students from my university met with me once a week for about a month to learn some foundational information about the research emphasis. Thus, they were sufficiently primed for the project and subsequent requirements of the internship.

As their mentor, it was clear to me that all of the students began their summer internship at the lab with excitement and enthusiasm. Everyone essentially reported work on time for about a week. Due to the schedule, the area of the lab that we were working around was scheduled to shut down for about a month over the summer. Therefore, it was imperative for our research team to get our data before asap. This was compounded by the fact that I was scheduled to go on the spiritual pilgrimage to Kemet within two weeks of arriving at the lab. Fortunately, I had sufficient time to provide the students with additional training, so that the measured data would be effectively recorded. Furthermore, I was able to make arrangements with colleagues at the lab to secure additional time to perform other small experiments. That noted, the students and I were given an opportunity to set up some equipment for a standalone experiment in the morning of the day that I left for the Kemetic Spiritual Pilgrimage. To cut to the chase, the two students from my university did not show up at the designated time that we all agreed on – so that we could set up the experiment. In fact, one of the students showed about 2 hours late, while the other did not show up at all (“due to illness”). Fortunately, the local student showed up and we had just enough time to set up the equipment and take pics. Needless to say, the students from the university that I teach at were reprimanded by me and the scholarship coordinator at the university for their absence. I offered the students the option of returning home – and they could keep the money in my opinion. However, they were threatened with expulsion from the program by the scholarship coordinator – and they would have to pay back all the internship money they received to the university (i.e., $5000). (Of course, the students chose to stay for the duration of the internship.) To some extent, this action set a negative tone between these students and me. It was evident that the students felt criticized and defensive. Furthermore, the remnants of contempt and stonewalling were apparent in their interactions with me. The above noted, I used the Gottman techniques coupled with spiritual principles to remedy the relationship with these students. To this end, I convened a separate meeting with each student after enough time had passed for us to be calm and stable. In this meeting, I used a gentle start up and spoke in the affirmative using “I” statements. In addition, I communicated the importance of personal responsibility and conveyed some stories consistent with my youthful experiences that adversely impacted me at that time. The impetus was to relate to each student’s experience. Throughout the conversation, I let them know that I respect them. However, I advised that it would be beneficial for them if they used this experience to elevate their behavior and level of professionalism. Also, it would be good to let go of the ‘reprimand experience’ and move forward in a calm way with dignity and kindness. I conveyed to them that situation happened, now it is over – never to happen again. I shared that a crisis is external to them; however, they create their own thoughts. In some way, I endeavored to informed them of the importance of becoming a master of one’s emotions. Blaming others for one’s short comings is the easiest way to live in painful. Indeed, this is consistent with the thoughts of one who has a victim mentality. To this end, I encouraged them to regularly check their thoughts and endeavor to take personal responsibility by creating positive thoughts to overcome negative experiences. The students listened with a few exceptions – and the rest of the summer research went much smoother.

Un Shen