Luther College Chips

‘Handling the Holidays’

Counseling Service hosts workshops on increasing sensitivity regarding breaks

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‘Handling the Holidays’

Students listen to Tyler Zeimet (‘20) and Mimi Finger (‘19) as they lead the workshop.

Students listen to Tyler Zeimet (‘20) and Mimi Finger (‘19) as they lead the workshop.

Martin Donovan (‘20) | Chips

Students listen to Tyler Zeimet (‘20) and Mimi Finger (‘19) as they lead the workshop.

Martin Donovan (‘20) | Chips

Martin Donovan (‘20) | Chips

Students listen to Tyler Zeimet (‘20) and Mimi Finger (‘19) as they lead the workshop.

Martin Donovan, Staff Writer

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While Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks are a time to destress for some, they may cause extra distress for other students. Luther College Counseling Service sponsored two workshops for first-year students in Brandt and Ylvisaker Halls called “Handling the Holidays” to address students who feel this stress on Thursday, Nov. 9. Student workers Mimi Finger (‘19) and Tyler Zeimet (‘20) led the workshop.

Finger and Zeimet focused the workshop on topics such as expectations at home, grief due to the recent loss of a loved one, self-care, conflicts with family members, and loneliness. According to the Director of Counseling Services Meg Hammes, the purpose of the workshop was to provide resources and tools to address students’ various circumstances.

“Our intention is to provide some self-care ideas to students regarding the holiday season,” Hammes said. “Often, for our students who have lost a loved one, it can be a time of great challenge. For our students who do not have a home to return to or have distressing home lives, the holidays can be a difficult time to navigate. We hope the workshop offers some strategies and points to think about regarding self-care and care of those in our Luther community.”

Finger and Zeimet also utilized the workshop to teach students to be more mindful of their peers’ anxieties. The intention of this was to encourage students to reach out and be more supportive of their peers’ anxieties during holiday breaks.

“I think it is really a matter of letting them know that they’re not alone and then making sure that they can be as comfortable as possible whether they stay here and are nervous about that or whether they go home and are nervous about that,” Zeimet said. “There are a lot of issues when [students] go home — it’s not just about staying here.”

Martin Donovan (‘20) | Chips
Tyler Zeimet (‘20) and Mimi Finger (‘19) lead the workshop in Brandt social lounge.

In addition, Finger urged the attendees of the workshop to avoid generalizing international students’ situations. Finger suggested to the participants that they should reach out to international students and be empathetic towards those who are staying on campus during holiday breaks.

“Don’t just assume that international students are staying here because they could be leaving and going home with their roommate or leaving with someone else,” Finger said. “I think it is important to reach out and maybe ask what their winter break plans are instead of saying, ‘how do you feel about staying on campus?’ Just listen to what they have to say.”

Finger and Zeimet intend to build off the two workshops by organizing another event before Christmas break. This event will focus on being mindful of students who do not celebrate Christmas. Finger and Zeimet also want to expand the workshop beyond first-year students so they can reach the larger Luther community.

“You have to keep in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas [and] not everyone is Lutheran,” Finger said. “There is this mindset that everyone at Luther College is Lutheran.”

The workshop also centered around the length of Christmas break, particularly for students who remain on Luther’s campus. Christmas break is Dec. 14 to Jan. 8, 2018 which is 26 days. Finger and Zeimet believe that this topic is relevant because of the number of students who stay on campus for this amount of time. According to the Ylvisaker Hall Director Kevin Wegner, the amount can range anywhere between 100-200 students, the majority of which are international students.

Finger attested that the end goal of the “Handling the Holidays” workshop was to give students a sense of ease, as winter break can be a stressful time for some.

“We don’t want to put extra stress on students,” Finger said. “We want our workshops to be reassuring and calming to give the people who attend it a sense of ease about topics like homesickness or handling the holidays.”

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