What is empathy? It is a
simple question but depending on how you answer it determines who you are. Do
you care about someone’s well-being? Their state of mind? You may be a
sympathetic person but not be capable of understanding and feeling another
person’s emotional state. Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
or in the words of the great Alfred Adler “Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another,
listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.”

            Upon arrival, it was clear that the fifth grader’s
thought being sympathetic meant you were also empathetic. Even though empathy
and sympathy have intertwined definitions. They are not the same thing, one means
being nice, sympathy and the other means feeling it deep inside your core. It
was hard to change their preconceived idea but I think we did it. Using the
emotion cards, we helped them to identify different emotions and see which one
could use a little empathy. Their underdeveloped brains sometimes mistook sadness
for anger or vice versa. So, we had to be mindful of that. We tried to create
child-friendly presentations that would absorb in their brains. Our content
focused mainly on activities and games that we thought would be fun. Our group
decided from the get-go that we wanted them to enjoy and really feel what
empathy is, we didn’t want them to regurgitate information we wanted them to
feel it.


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