Head of School Blog

Kicking off Our Spirituality Program with Mitakuye Oyasin: We are all related.

Jill Singleton | Volume: 7 Issue: 2 | September 20, 2017
One of the things that impressed me most when I was considering the possibility of coming to serve at All Saints in 2004 was the school’s unofficial tagline, Mitakuye Oyasin – a Lakota expression that roughly translates “we are all related.”
As we kicked off this year’s Spirituality Gathering on this same theme, I was touched to learn that Ms. Beesley had a similar experience when she was interviewing with our school.  Ms. Beesley has given me permission to share the story she told in our gathering this week.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
My intention this week is Mitakuye Oyasin: We are all related.  As I was thinking about what I was going say today the first thing that came to my mind is the song “We are the World.”  Maybe you have heard it?  It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie and performed by USA for Africa which was basically a group of something like 40 different musicians. 

The lyrics are:
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day so let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
we’re saving our own lives
it’s true we’ll make a better day/just you and me.

When this song came out in 1985, I was 10 years old and to be completely honest with you, I didn’t think very often about the people outside my own family- my mom and dad, my sister Patty, my brother Raymond, my sister Christine and the baby my mom was going to have later that year.  I never really considered people who lived in other countries or communities.  

But I did love music- I still do.  This was the first time that I actually stopped to think about the idea that we are all part of one big human family.  This song raised over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and inspired me to think about other people in need.  

Later, in 1989, when I was 14, a big oil tanker hit a reef and spilled lots and lots of oil in Alaska.  This was a huge environmental disaster and it was caused by people.  Many animals were affected by this, too, especially sea otters, seals, salmon, and sea birds.  Not too long after hearing about this, I heard that song again, “We are the world, we are the children…” I have always loved animals and the environment. Again, this song inspired me to do something! I decided to do everything that I could to raise awareness about protecting animals and the environment by supporting the World Wildlife Fund.  

Fast forward many years, to the year 2006. That summer, I came to All Saints for the first time for a job interview with Ms. Singleton.  She told me about all of the amazing things that this school was doing to help others.  Earlier that year they had worked to help the victims of a tsunami.  She also told me about Empty Bowls which is an annual event which helps to collect money and supplies for the Hoboken community as well as raise awareness about hunger and homelessness in our world. This was also the first time I heard the words Mitaskuye Oyasin and learned what they meant.  I have to say that I was so impressed! After hearing about all of the incredible things this school was doing, I really wanted to work here.  That night when I got home, I heard that song again.  At that moment, I knew that I had made a great choice by accepting that job.  

Today I volunteer with the students in service club along with Ms. Nguyen and Ms. Cariani to help people, animals, and the environment each week.  Working with the First Graders at the Waffle Inn, we raise money each year for one of my favorite charities, the World Wildlife Fund.    

I am so happy that I work at All Saints where I have the opportunity to continue to help and support my human, animal, and natural or earth family. I also get the chance to teach you about the importance of Mitakuye Oyasin.  If all living things are related, it means we are family and families take care of each other. So ask for help if you need it and if you see someone who needs help, please give it.  Our actions, no matter how small, do matter.  We are the world.  It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me.  

Questions?  Comments?  Ideas?  I’d love to hear them!  Email me: jsingleton@allsaintsdayschool.org