Our nephew, Chase, came to visit this weekend. He is finishing his fifth year of college and graduating. We hadn't seen him much during these academic years and were curious as to what they were like. Eight family members gathered.
I decided that I wanted to learn more about his college years. What would be an acceptable/non threatening way to introduce this topic? After thinking about it a while, I contacted the people who were coming and asked them to bring a question to ask Chase about his university life. When he arrived here, I asked him if he was willing to answer some questions. He said he would be glad to - so we proceeded.
We sat in a circle using a pom pom from his university as a talking piece and each guest asked a question - what was the high point of your college years and what was low? How much music did you play? What role did the fraternity have in your experience. When you hit your most challenging personal time, what sustained you to overcome the adversity? Who were your best friends? Each question added something unique to the mix and brought out highlights (and low lights) of his total years as an undergraduate. Chase was articulate and terrific about answering the questions. He could have given one or two sentences and let it go at that, but he gave insightful and interesting comments about each topic.
At the end, all of us listening to him felt we had a better understanding of his total experience, where he was heading, lessons he had learned, appreciating his ability to speak eloquently on short notice, and observing the wonderful young adult he has become ready to tackle the next stage of his life.
This circle was simple in format, fairly non threatening to the participants, and gave Chase a chance to share his story. It was a delicious closure of this part of his life - maybe it even helped him notice the bigger picture of his school life now that it was concluding.