Today I attended the orientation for incoming Grade 1 students of STC.   STC has always prided itself in instilling social awareness in the students.  There are activities that expose the students to different sectors of society and give them an opportunity to interact with them and help the less fortunate.

The principal related an incident that really struck a chord.

In one of the activities in STC,   some street children were invited to the school and they interacted with some Grade 2 students.  One student was chatting with one of the children and she asked the child where they lived, how many were they in their house and where they ate.  The child answered her questions and said they ate on the floor.  The student was shocked that this child had no table in their house and just placed their plate directly on the floor.

At home that night, the student was having dinner with her family.  She suddenly picked up her plate from the table, sat on the floor and placed her plate on the floor.  Her father was shocked and asked her what she was doing.  She replied by saying she wants to experience how it feels like to eat on the floor.  Her father was furious at the school, saying, “What kind of things are they teaching you in STC?”

The next day, he talked with the principal expressing his displeasure at what happened.  The principal told him that he had a perfect opportunity to teach his child values that night.  It was the perfect time for the child to appreciate her life situation, her blessings and ways she can help the underprivileged.   Unfortunately, the father did not see it that way.  The principal told him, “If our values are not aligned, then maybe, this school is not for you.”  He pulled out his daughter from the school at the end of the school year.

I am an alumna of STC and have always been grateful for the education that I had received.  I realize the importance of being aware of what’s going on in society and of finding ways to help in our own little ways.  I am really saddened by this story.  That student had the right idea and the right consciousness.  But her empathy was nipped at the bud.  How can we survive as a society, how can we prosper if we have people who are isolated and continue to perpetrate their isolation?

Sometimes I really lose hope in our country.