Relationships & Empathy

By Charlene Tran

Dale Carnegie once said that if we are too selfish and ignoble that we cannot express a little appreciation and a few sincere

compliments to converse without focusing on what we can benefit from others – if our souls are no greater than wild sour apples, we will receive corresponding consequences. There are no points in laying various schemes to find friends. We should appreciate others from the bottom of our hearts, encourage them with their strengths, and people will start being closer together.

A few months ago, I thought this idea was hollow. How could I believe such a hypocritical conception when I was living in a grievingly emulative and materialistic community, where people always compete against one another and prioritize their own personal benefits? I was tired of putting my all-out efforts on being hilarious and sarcastic on social media, or getting higher GPA than others, or boosting attention on my volunteering activities to show off that: “Hey, I am the founder of this charity project!” What was that for? I established Espelune because I wanted to bring art to the unfortunate, not to attract followers on my Instagram. I was torn out by getting too carried away in the cold-blooded competitive society. I realized that I needed a break, and the immersion trip to Senegal was the perfect opportunity.

Maybe my friends in modern cities cannot penetrate the profound reasons why I chose being in the middle of nowhere instead of shopping around Times Square with them on Black Friday. Maybe my roommate cannot comprehend the true valuable lessons from this trip except how to urinate in a hole. So let me tell you all about what I gained. It was simply pure happiness. In other words, it was the great gratification when the kids smiled complacently after seeing thumbs up towards their lovely drawings, or when I noticed looks of smug satisfaction on their faces after having their nails painted, or when I thought about how easy it was to bring joy to others. I did not have to buy them expensive gifts or promote their instagram posts. All I did was treasuring every minute I hung out with them. That was when even my 3-dollar nail polishes were cherished. That was when my enthusiastic claps gave them more confidence. That was when people from different religions, with no mutual languages, communicated with one another by smiling and hugging.

Perhaps this was what Dale Carnegie tried to say. Perhaps it is just all about relationships and empathy. Now, I am more motivated than ever to spread my fortune towards the others. Next year, I will definitely come back to Niogani village with a project that helps them maintain meaningful memories.

6 thoughts on “Relationships & Empathy

  1. Charlene: This is AMAZING!!! Keep asking all the good questions and reflecting so deeply. I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the trip when you’re back!


  2. So amazing and proud of you Charlene.
    Loved reading this and Niognani is one of the best outdoor classroom in the word to experience the humanity!


  3. Charlene, I am proud of you. I shared with your friend . He was delighted to hear that the trip had helped you found that true happiness could only achieved when shared. He was truly excited to hear more about the trip once you’re back.


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