Random Thoughts

The Power of Empathy

When I came out the college I thought teaching was not my cup of tea. But, as the adage goes ‘God disposes’, by the time I got an employment it was ‘teaching’. I considered it a tough proposition! It is, indeed. So I resolved and consoled myself to be a ‘good and caring’ teacher rather a ‘brilliant academician’. The first one needs only lot of empathy; not brilliance or excellence. I could do that and it worked. So after some years when I was asked to move away from ‘teaching’, I volunteered to continue till my retirement and I did.

Honestly, it is difficult yet interesting one as I came across and even now coming across a host of youngsters of myriad colors and shades in their character, intelligence and behavior.

My experiences, if graphically described, can go for a book. Nevertheless, I just wish to share a few experiences with the student community.

  • A student who had been so close to me during his college days, after completion moved out of the country he detached himself. So when he got married to a foreigner many of his buddies came and asked me about it as if I knew the details. But, the fact was that I too didn’t know. Later, he came and introduced his wife but once again vanished into thin air.
  • A highly reserved student of mine was my caring host and guide when I made a visit to United States of America but I do not know his whereabouts now. 
  • One guy suddenly came and met me in my house after nearly 25 long years. 
  • Yet another boy pleasantly surprised me by organizing and accompanying me in my Europe and Dubai sojourns. 
  • I get odd friends also. A fellow train traveler became my friend and I was the witness to his love marriage after a couple of years. 
  • A boy who came for a corporate social work became a friend and also his whole family. In fact, most of the boys and girls who moved with me closely invariably make their entire family known to me and vice versa. 
  • Just the other day I understand a rebel boy in my class (especially in my subject) who passed out 15 years back is now working in UK in the field of IT identified and responded to me through a social network.
  • A young guy who came as a client for a project made me feel now like one of his family members. I roamed a lot with him in East Asia. 
  • As mentioned earlier, many of my FB followers are new guys for whom I went as examiner. 
  • Two guys who surprised me with their remembrance after long gaps of years are from other college again and I went only as an examiner to them. (one is abroad and another is a genius and globe trotter who really made me a VIP during the celebration on the eve he received his doctorate from a prestigious institution!)

I can keep on adding. I feel the main reason is ‘empathy’. In all my relationships I tried to give importance to understand them and feel for them. I tried to be unbiased to the extent possible.

So, the profession I once despised taught me a lot.

However, I know all relationships are transient but rest mainly on empathy.


More by :  G Swaminathan

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