As the Chinese proverb goes, “家有一老，如有一宝”, meaning, it's like having a treasure when you have an elderly at home.
Learning and acquiring wisdom do not only happen in school. Compassion, resilience, selflessness are learnt from examples and role models. If we take time to observe the people around us, the elderly among us can teach us many things in life where the structures of a school setting will not teach.
Five students from the School of Business, Temasek Polytechnic, came together to share about connecting with their "treasure".
This is part 3 of 5 on what these teenagers learnt from their grandparents.
Showing compassion in our daily actions (contributed by Alicia Goh)
I have a very loving relationship with my grandmother, ah-po; she took care of me and has participated in every event in my life. Ah-po has short, wavy, dyed-red hair and is almost 67. She can be strict at times but is one of the most compassionate people I have ever met. She is a social butterfly with excellent social skills. Ah-po's optimism makes her stand out from the crowd.
Wanting to learn something more about her, I requested to look through photo albums. Ah-po was more than delighted and excited to share them with me, and we took a trip down memory lane.
There was a very old-looking dusty album, filled with her pictures. I was overwhelmed with emotions as I have not seen these before. I learnt so much about ah-po as we flipped through the pages and she shared her childhood memories with me. I felt foolish to think that I knew her well.
I shared with ah-po about my inability to feel strong compassion for others. I am selfish and often put myself first. She complimented me for acknowledging my weakness, as it is the first step to improvement and finding an answer to an issue. Ah-po said "when there is a problem, there will always be a solution."
Ah-po and I had a long chat. She advised me to look for the good qualities in everyone, with compassion and understanding. She showed me a photo of her and a child with disabilities. Ah-po shared that the child could be heard crying and making noise in the middle of the night. She told me that she understood her neighbor's circumstances. Admitting that although she was affected by the noise, she showed compassion by being sympathetic and patient with the disturbance. Since then, she actively helps her neighbors and even kindly offered to look after the child when the parents are at work.
In today's busy world, we often lack empathy. Using ah-po's life stories as an example, I realised that compassion is a way of life and not just an emotion; it lifts people and embraces the humanity of others. To be compassionate means that we can put ourselves in the shoes of others and have the desire to take action to help them.
In our chat, my grandmother imparted me the values to live by. It changed my view and perspective of the world and the people around me. I am so glad I walked down the memory lane with ah-po'!
Student contributors from Temasek Polytechnic, School of Business
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of St. John's Home for Elderly Persons.
St John's Home for Elderly Persons is not a government-subvented Home and depend largely on the public's generosity to enable us to continue our work as a Registered Charity.
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