On November 14th, the eleventh grade students were given the opportunity to attend a Theory of Knowledge compassion conference led by three guest speakers: Katy Webley, Sayadaw U Nodhinana, and Daw Kathleen Thein. The objective of the conference was for students to “better understand how they know compassion and how it plays out in real-life situations.”
Sayadaw U Nodhinana is a renowned Buddhist monk, a Pali scholar, and an experienced professor. Despite having a high fever on the day of the conference, he still delivered a moving and insightful speech. He emphasized how “success can only be reached through compassion and wisdom.” He felt that society in today’s world values wisdom and knowledge above being a compassionate citizen. The Sayadaw reminded the audience that compassion comes from the willingness to open our hearts to the suffering of ourselves and others.
Katy Webley, former program director of an NGO called ‘Save the Children’ in Myanmar, talked about traveling to South Sudan for the first time and taking note of the poor educational opportunities the children faced. The schools she built there provided education for the less fortunate children, which responded to the “desire to take action to improve their lives” and how it “gives us the ability to understand someone else’s situation.
The last speaker, Daw Kathleen Thein, a professional English educator, and a community service volunteer, shared a Hindu perspective on compassion and the concept of karma. She presented a touching story about aiding a young Burmese man who got his arm amputated and how she helped raise funds, through compassion, for him to get a prosthetic arm.
After the conference, Min Sitt Thu Aung, a current junior who attended the conference, said that he was able to “learn about compassion from the Buddhist perspective, from the Hindu perspective, and also from a personal level.” He also commented on how it was an eye-opening experience, as it contradicted the idea that compassion isn’t about pity, “although it’s presented that way in the definition.” He acknowledged how attending this conference “truly brought light” to a ”very vague concept” of compassion in his life.
Another junior, Chhavi Verma, stated that she learned how “compassion is subjective and varies from person-to-person, and also depends on what people have seen in their lives in terms of what they experience and encounter.” Meanwhile, our own global member, Phaebe Ouyang said that for her, “the conference was unexpected, and broke all the expectations that I had while going in.”
Published by Global