By Carolina Carneiro, Summer Times Staff Writer

Many people at Exeter Summer have tested my patience through betrayals and bringing me down. They even caused me to believe that this program was not for me. I even began to doubt my values and my worth. Nevertheless, I was able to pull through with the support of my amazing, brilliant friends and teachers. Love is so powerful that it shines through the darkest, opaque of places.

The point is,  I (just like everyone else) have gone through a lot these past couple weeks, and my support system has been my friends whom I now, regardless of their substantial encouragement and support, have to leave behind, or we all have to leave each other, since the program is ending. Mr. Weatherspoon wasn’t lying at the first assembly when he said these past five weeks will be gone in a blink of an eye. It feels as if just last week I was arriving with my suitcases and fear of the unknown future that lay ahead at Exeter.

Now that we have lived that Exeter experience, we have to pack our experiences as well as our lessons up into a box and take them back to our communities where we will captivate our neighbors with the skills we have learned at the Academy. Although there seems to be one box holding a vital skill, holding all of our existence’s undergarments, that we forget all the time, and that box is hold empathy. The lack of empathy within Exonians really shows, honey, it really shows. 

When I was in arguments (or about to be in one), I noticed that I want to be right, that I had the right to be angry because this person did X,Y and Z. Before I came to Exeter, I knew how dangerous this belief is because I have seen how people turn their backs on friends just to prove their own point, as if that person is does not have feelings. Yet, I was so immersed with angry people that I found myself falling into that idea. 

When we are arguing with others, we always try to prove that we are correct and the other person is wrong. Guess what? WE are wrong, that whole concept is wrong. We should not be arguing with friends or acquaintances just to prove our point — as a matter of fact, we shouldn’t be arguing at all. See, when you are upset with someone, particularly a close friend, speak WITH (not TO) them; do not let the roots of what could be a beautiful friendship rot inside you.

When you address the problem in a very respectful manner, then you and the other person will feel better. Try to use “I felt (INSERT EMOTION) when you (INSERT ACTION) because (INSERT EXPLANATION),” instead of using “Well you did (ACTION) so….”.  If you use the accusation statement, the other person will certainly not comply because no one likes being accused, and people always have their reasons, you just have to give them a chance to explain their actions. If you use “I feel” statements, the other person will feel safe to speak WITH you (not TO you). 

Now that’s where empathy comes from; regardless of how angry you are or what that person did, you need to respect them because they have problems just like you; they have emotions, just like you; and they have a REASON for what they did, it could be good or bad, we would not know until we TALK ABOUT IT. You have to be empathetic towards other humans because every person has emotions and every person makes mistakes, so allowing them to speak and not mistreating them is being empathetic to their humanity. 

So please, please, be empathetic to everyone, even those whom you are angry with.

Also, on a side note, do not assume, you are making an ASS out of U and ME (ASSUME). Always remember that! Because we usually are so scared to ask questions or speak with others, or others aren’t speaking to us, and we want answers so badly that we tend to fill in the blanks ourselves and fully behave based on them. We never, EVER know what’s going on in other people’s minds, so always ask questions, always COMMUNICATE. It is what we need to do in order to live in a peaceful society. So go back home, take all of the positive lessons you have learned and apply them to your life to better yourself and your communities, because it always starts there. 

(Side note: my issues are important, but as we speak, someone is suffering from hunger, a gun shot wound, sexual violence, homophobic violence, homelessness, and so on. I am reminding you that currently there are people enduring worse problems, and they need love in order to heal, so please go and love them. Thank you for this short TED talk).