Published : Thursday, January 7, 2016 | 4:17 PM
Last month, Ramona welcomed Linda Biehl as a guest speaker for both Sophomore and Junior Theology classes to discuss the transformative power of forgiveness. Linda Biehl is the mother of Amy Biehl, a young Stanford graduate student and an anti-apartheid activist who tried to make social change in South Africa during the 1990’s. Unfortunately, Amy was brutally murdered by young black activists who saw her as the “white” oppressor. In her daughter’s honor, Linda Biehl co-founded the Amy Biehl Foundation in South Africa to empower black youth with education. Through the creation of the foundation, Linda forgave the South Africans who murdered her daughter and offered them employment within the organization as a pathway to social healing.
During her visit, Mrs. Biehl’s talk far surpassed a typical lecture as an open dialogue with students about how the value of forgiveness is a formula for healing in human relationships and restorative justice within a nation. She initially described the link between South African politics during the post- apartheid era and the tragedy of her daughter’s murder. She posed a question to the students, “How do you think I forgave?” In response, the girls remained silent because they couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of her forgiveness towards the men who took her daughter’s life and ultimately changed her life forever. Ms. Biehl graciously said, “I forgive these men because that’s what Amy would’ve wanted. These men lived in horrible circumstances and they were a product of the hostile political environment. Amy’s death wasn’t personal; it was a political action. She would’ve wanted us to forgive in order to help South Africa heal.” Essentially, Mrs. Biehl expressed that forgiveness is the first step to healing not only for oneself but also for the greater global community.
After she explained her testimony of forgiveness, Linda Biehl was curious to learn about Ramona students’ personal thoughts about forgiveness. A few shared their personal stories of struggle and their coping mechanisms for tragedies within their own lives. In response, Linda offered them insightful advice in order to help the girls understand the value of forgiveness. She informed the students that the greatest power of forgiveness is dialogue. Dialogue provides an open platform towards understanding the other person, who has hurt you and why he or she hurt you. Sophia Fuentes ‘17 described the impact of her talk as “an eye-opening experience and not what I would normally expect to hear coming from a mother that lost her daughter in a very malicious way. She is a very strong, touching woman who changed my view on forgiveness and taught me that in order to live a contented life after something tragic happens, I must understand the perpetrators’ motives and forgive them.”
Since Amy Biehl’s death, the Amy Biehl Foundation has expanded its mission to the U.S and has developed human rights programs in order to combat social injustices non-violently. Ramona Convent is very privileged that The Amy Biehl Foundation would like to expand its program as a component to one of Ramona’s clubs, the Peace and Justice Society. The Amy Biehl Foundation will be a perfect fit because Ramona Convent educates students to cultivate social responsibility as a means of approaching social injustices within their communities.
Ramona Convent is a school for girls in grades 9 – 12 that is set apart by a rich curriculum, expansive selection of college preparatory and AP/Honors courses, comprehensive co-curricular programs, and a welcoming community. Students travel through four years of high school with the support of spirited friends and expert, caring, and engaged teachers while surrounded by the inspiring beauty of a college-like campus. Ramona Convent Secondary School warmly invites you to visit and meet Ramona for yourself!
For more information, visit http://www.ramonaconvent.org/.