This all changed when for the first time in my life I listened to the most powerful, encouraging and inspiring words ever to be said by any leader I have listened to. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama changed my understanding of what compassion is and made me realize that we tend to think about anger, hatred and how it effects us but we don’t pay attention to compassion and the role it plays in our lives. We focus on problems and challenges facing us today but don’t look at the things that people have done in order to make people lives better.
Our generation is filled with opportunities and all the materials that one needs to achieve his or her goals and dreams, and all we need is to have compassion. Compassion is not only being helpful and loving to the people around you. It also understands the potential that you have and how you can use it to help yourself and other people as well. Compassion is not only giving without wanting something in return, but it is also the feeling of human kind. To love, to be kind and friendly to all people that are in the community that you live in.
His Holiness said that with all the creations and inventions that we have in our generation we should be willing to share and not fight over what can be shared. He continued and said that the violence and anger that we have we should turn into compassion. When I go back home I want to show the exact compassion that I have been shown in Seattle and be able to change people minds by showing love and making them understand what compassion really is towards friendship. For those who are involved in crime just because there’s no food at home I want to make them realize that there’s more that they can do to help their families and put food on the table without violence and anger. I would encourage them to ask for help because I know there are a lot of people who are willing to help.
In my school there’s a program that provides food for students who really need it, but many of them don’t go because they feel ashamed. I know how it feels because I also needed the food but didn’t go because I was also ashamed. I commit to going home and making a change. I want to show that we as a community can work together to help improve our lives, and I will start with having something to eat at school everyday so that others can see the compassion that I have for my self and be proud of who I am.
JUST WANTED TO SAY THANK YOU TO THE FAMILIES THAT HOSTED ME:
I have spent more than two weeks in Seattle and I will be leaving soon. I was happy when I came here, and it seems like I will be crying when I go back home. But I just want to thank the families that hosted me for loving me and welcoming me into their houses and giving me whatever I needed when I went out to workshops or visited schools in Seattle. Also to your wonderful, friendly, and loving kids that you had in which I made good friendships and who took me to places I have never been before. I thank you for everything that you have done for me, and I will be forever grateful to you.
To Zoe’s family the Schulers:
From the first day that I landed, you guys were there to comfort and welcome me to Seattle in a way that was so surprising and unusual for me. To be honest it was something that was totally new to me and I didn’t know what to do or say. It felt like you guys had been long waiting for me to come and right from the beginning you made me feel like I belonged in Seattle.
You made me experience something that I have never experienced before, the love of humankind and understanding how important it is in a person’s life by loving and caring for me. How it felt to love and at the same time be loved. When I was at home, and even when I was out of the house, I didn’t feel like a visitor. I felt like I was at home in South Africa with my own parents and just living my life the way I want.
We were always having conversations about how life is in South Africa and what I liked about my own country and what I like about me. Afterwards it would be you listening to South African music and dancing like you belonged there and understood the lyrics of the songs as if you knew what they mean. Whenever you were busy I would be on your laptop listening to music till the morning comes and you never said anything. While I was with you I felt like I was with my father and I really loved spending my time. To the father of the house Doug Schuler, you are number one.
To my host mother Terry, you were the one who was always making sure I was happy and satisfied. Your words reminded me of my own mother and you took me to places and acted like I was your own child. Everybody seemed to forget that I was on a visit and will be leaving this country to go home. I will always love and miss you, Mom, so much and I keep remembering the first day you took me to a Thai restaurant and I had my first experience of how Thai food tastes like. To the mother Terry, no mom can ever replace you- you’re the best!
To the beautiful, young, and loving girl that I have come across was none other than Zoe Schuler, the daughter of Doug and Terry Schuler. I remember the beautiful flowers that you brought me when you went to welcome me to the airport. On the day that I was leaving and you had to go to California, I felt like crying, but I couldn’t cry in front of so many people so I saved it and cried a lot when I got to my new home. Because you were the one I spent most of my time with when we were in school and at home. On my way to school and when I came back it was always you being there for me all the time. Even when I didn’t feel comfortable you found ways of making me happy. You will always be in my heart for as long as I live. For everything that you have done for me I just wanted you to know that you will always be part of my life forever.
To Emmanual's family the Yearwoods:
I would also like to thank the Yearwoods for being a loving and friendly and interesting family to me. Even though I didn’t have enough time to spend with all of you because I was busy and had to attend the Seeds of Compassion events and always came late. You guys never worried about that and you enjoyed having me around, and I will miss every little time I spent with you.
To Felicia: mother
I want to say thank you for looking after me and making sure that I had everything that I needed and for taking me to the mall and to the movies. You sacrificed a lot of time to take me to all the places I had to go to. I thank you for being a kind and loving mother to me.
Mr. Perry: father
I wish I could have spent more time with you but I understand that you wanted to spend more time with me as much as I did. With your company being one of the sponsors for the Seeds of Compassion, you were busy all day but I enjoyed going to school with you in the mornings and how you showed me how to use your computer.
To be honest you were like a brother to me and I enjoyed every little information you shared with me about your school, your community and your culture as well. I enjoyed meeting your friends and going to the programs that you did when you were out of school. I enjoyed your jokes and funny comedy movies that we watched when we were at home. I know I was a bit older that you, but it felt like I was your younger brother when you always told me what to do and always woke me up in the morning. Remember when you said a brother from another mother? That I will always remember.
I would love to say thank you for every thing that you have done for me.
I appreciate what you did for me and I wish I could come back again and pay you guys a visit or one of you can visit my family.
THANKS TO BRIDGES TO UNDERSTANDING
From my own understanding, life is an interesting journey of experiences and love, care, friendship, and compassion make it worthwhile. If we are sitting there doing nothing, not knowing how the other part of the world looks like, we don’t see life as a journey at all. When we never love, care, be friendly, and show compassion to other people, we say life sucks with its ups and downs and blame it all on God.
As a student from Hector Peterson in South Africa I would like to say thank you to Bridges to Understanding, a program that started a year ago in our school, for making an opportunity of a life and a dream come true to me. It has given me so much that when I go back home I want to pass on what I have learned through digital storytelling and sharing information with different students from different schools in Seattle to my fellow South Africans back home.
When I attended Bridges workshops, not only did I learn about photography and how to create digital storytelling, I started to understand that a photo or any image can tell you something when you look at it very carefully. I understood what Bridges was trying to teach and the message that it is trying to give out to people. I am so happy for the Bridges program because it’s an opportunity that comes once in a life which our parents never had when they were still in school. Our president once said that the world has changed and with this generation that we can make it a better place to live in. I started to realize this when I saw digital stories from students in Tibet, Seattle, Guatemala, and not forgetting my country, of course.
From what I have seen I think we have to give whatever little we have to those that need it most and to love, respect, and be kind to all different kinds of people that we come across. That’s what Compassion is all about.
THANK YOU, BRIDGES, FOR BUILDING A BRIDGE THAT ENABLES ME TO SEE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD AND TO SEE LIFE AS A NEVER ENDING JOURNEY OF EXPERIENCES!!!