This I Believe
I believe in caring.
Godfrey Shaba taught me the importance of caring. Godfrey was a friend in
college from Kenya that lived in my dorm. We became friends through the
whole dorm life experience – eating in the cafeteria, practicing karate,
hanging out and joking around. One day I had finally forced myself to sit
down to study in my room, and he came in and offered me five dollars. I was
taken aback because I was trying to focus on my books; it was an unusual
offer, and I was a little afraid of what it meant. I said, “I don’t care” in
a casual way, not to be offending, but letting him make the choice of
whether or not to give me the money. He became very angry with me. He said
that where he came from, gift giving is what friends do, and if I didn’t
care for the gift then I didn’t care for his friendship. He left before I
could apologize or even speak. Our friendship was cordial after that, but
not close and I always felt regret.
I vowed to always remember Godfrey by telling students this story when they
come into my office and say, “I don’t care.” I tell them to say no if
they mean no and yes if they mean yes! I tell them to care and have an
opinion about something and not beat around the bush. It doesn’t matter if
I like what they’re telling me or not, only that they’re straight-forward
and honest. I challenge them to tell me what they do care about.
I found out years later that Godfrey died in a car crash when he had
returned to Kenya. I never got the chance to tell him the importance the
lesson he taught me. I try to keep my passion in what I do in remembering
Godfrey and always being sincere in the work I do with students.
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