Empathy on a holiday? Three steps to show empathy, compassion & respect

The IB Learner Profile – “CARING – we show empathy, compassion & respect.”

Last Saturday as I sat in the departure terminal of Soekarno-Hatta, waiting for my flight to Singapore I reflected just how busy the airport was on this particular day. Logical reasons for this were that it was school holidays time. In addition, the fasting month had just commenced and the annual exodus of household help to their villages always means that many families move to a serviced hotel or apartment rather than cook their own meals or clean their own homes. Hundreds of people on the move…..

I glanced at a nearby television screen in the area where I was sitting. I could see a news channel crossing to correspondents who were beaming reports and images of the refugee crises in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Thousands of people on the move…..

It occurred to me then that a holiday time is the worst time to invite reflection on empathy. We take a vacation to ‘escape’ not to be troubled. However, isn’t that the same reason why refugees decide or are forced to flee? Might a holiday indeed be the best reason and moment to empathize?

So I hereby invite you to open a CAS conversation with your students in the first days or weeks of the new term or school year, after they’ve returned from their respective vacations.

1) Read this thoughtful blog on why we should teach empathy. Then open up a path to empathy based on vacations. Reflect, compare, contrast these holiday experiences with the plight of millions of refugees on our planet.

2) Investigate – World Refugee Day (June 20) and focus on a ‘missed’ opportunity – the chance to “show empathy, compassion & respect.”

3) Prepare – actions and service experiences to demonstrate CARING.

And then share your ideas with other members of your learning community as well as other CAS schools.

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