Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Two Inches from Death

Name: Roy Dayan
From: Tenafly, New Jersey
Grade: 11
School: Tenafly High School
Votes: 0


Two
Inches from Death

The
pain was intense and jarring. I immediately looked over my shoulder
to find scissors wedged in my back. A moment later, my eyes caught a
glimpse of the attacker fleeing down the school hallway. Then it hit
me: I had just been stabbed. I recognized my assailant. She was in my
grade. As she ran away, I yelled, “Why would she do that? I’ve
never even spoken to her.” The next thing I knew, my panicking
friends rushed to my aid.

Having
witnessed the incident, my wrestling teammate Rob ran behind me and
pressed down on the wound to stop the bleeding.

Sensing Rob’s fear, I gave him a reassuring smile.

Within an hour, the news had spread like wildfire. An innocent victim
of rare violence in my safe suburban town, I instantly became a
school celebrity.

Later
that day, I opened the group chat I had with my twenty-four eighth
graders from the Israeli Scouts, a youth movement focused around core
values in which I volunteer as a counselor. Scrolling down hundreds
of texts, I was shocked to see their messages change from warm and
supportive to combative and threatening, calling for violent revenge
on the stabber. I was speechless. As their counselor, I had created
activities that engendered respect and tolerance. I was deeply
disappointed that they had chosen to promote further violence. I
realized I had yet to invent an activity stressing non-violence; it
was clearly needed more than ever. Over the next four days, I
designed an exercise effectively illustrating that violence is never
the solution. I scheduled the activity for the upcoming weekend we
would spend together at a campsite.

On
our last day at camp, I woke my group at 3:00 am and led them from
our cabin to a forest clearing where I had earlier scattered
envelopes, each of which had a different anti-violence quote taped to
it. I instructed each scout to sit next to the envelope with the
quote he or she found most meaningful. They then opened their
envelopes. Into each, I had placed a different inspirational story
about the quote’s author who had faced violence with integrity.

While
the scouts read the stories, I dispersed the messages they sent me on
the day of the stabbing. I then urged my scouts to read their own
messages and reflect upon their actions by comparing their
inappropriate messages to the anti-violence quotes. Acknowledgement
of their guilt appeared on their faces. During this profound moment,
they realized there was a better way to handle the situation.

The
school incident placed me in a perfect position to exemplify proper
conduct when faced with aggression. Violence had created an
opportunity for me to educate my scouts to reject it. Commitment to
my youngsters drove me to take advantage of the opportunity. What
began as utter disappointment became an
effective
lesson.
As the sun rose, its rays
illuminating the forest, we concluded the activity with a new sense
of enlightenment.


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