To sum up his internship experience Ziv, shared a quote from Che Guevera with me, “Let the world change you, and then you can change the world.” He elaborated that burdened by a personal problem not too long ago, he was conducting a session out of duty and could not wait to finish his shift. In other words, he was in no mood to “do good” and to put it mildly, he was preoccupied. However, his mood changed suddenly when his students invited him to occupy an empty seat next to them.
“Ehhh cher come and join us lah!” Ziv told me he was very surprised by the invitation as he was there to teach a class and he imagined that the kids wanted to keep their distance with a teacher. Instead, they enjoyed sharing their personal time with him and they led him on a tour of the neighbourhood. “Their bubbliness and inclusiveness lightened the weight in my heart,” Ziv recalled the occasion fondly. The children’s presence changed his experience of the evening and he felt strong and enthusiastic about his work once again.
Like Ziv, a memory from many years ago, was being led on a tour of the neighbourhood by some children. They showed me where they would wager a few coins on a horse inside a “racecourse machine,” and where card games were held. They seemed to enjoy having me around and eventually I picked up Hokkien, the dominant language spoken in the neighbourhood from them.
However, I was also often tested by them. To say the least, they were deviant and defiant, and their behaviours got me picking up the skill of reflecting. I had to make sense of many disruptive encounters and so, I always had to consider a range of possible reasons behind challenging behaviours. As a result, I believed I was becoming more patient, opened and prioritised understanding over punishment. Not everyone around me agreed though as they thought that I was just permissive and not being a very good adult role model.
Anyway, the world that occupied me was changing me and one reason why I am still here is because I like the changes in me. Today, I continue to be challenged to change as working with others is very much working on ourselves. Thankfully, I am convinced that I will be better off for it as the world will always be inviting us to embrace it and a hug is a comforting experience.
Wishing you and your loved ones, health, and peace of mind.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. – Max Ehrmann © 1927