Photo by Pawn Nitichan
There was once an elderly and wise gentleman who lived in a village. He would often spend his days sitting in the shade of a big tree in the center of the village, reading books and talking to passersby. One day, a traveler came upon his village and stopped and said, “Old man, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?”
The elderly gentleman looked up at him and replied, “Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found on your travels.”
The traveler scowled and said, “Old man, I have met people who cheat, steal, and aren’t kind to strangers, and people who don’t look out for one another.”
The elderly gentleman looked up and, with a faint look of sadness in his eyes, said, “Oh my friend, those are the people you will find in my village.” The traveler kicked the dirt under his feet, scoffed, and marched off towards the village.
By and by, as the elderly gentleman continued to enjoy his day, another traveler came walking through the village. Once again, the traveler stopped and asked, “Please kind sir, I have been traveling across the countryside, and I have seen many things and met many people. Can you tell me what kind of people I will find in your village?” The elderly gentleman said, “Certainly I can, but first tell me what kind of people you have found in your travels.”
he traveler replied, “I have found people who are kind and welcoming of strangers, people who care for one another, and people who love. These are the people I have met in my travels.”
The elderly gentleman looked up and, with the faintest smile in his eyes, said, “My friend, those are the people you will find in my village.”
— West African folktale
Social change is an adventure, a journey, and we meet many people along the way. We are all Travelers. Attitude colors every experience—it is the lens through which we see the world. If we expect the best from people, we will tend to find the best in people. Similarly, we must not allow negative experiences to taint future expectations, especially in relation to people we have never met. A positive attitude toward the next adventure in social change and toward the people we encounter along the way is essential to success.
About the Photographer: Pawn Nitichan was on the founding team of City Year New Hampshire, and now serves as its executive director. Born and raised in Thailand, Pawn was a student ambassador in the international student exchange program at Assumption University (ABAC) in Thailand; a program that eventually brought her to Loyola College in Baltimore, MD. She said, “I love and value City Year’s founding stories and use them all the time in and outside of work. I believe they are powerful tools for our members, staff and champions in our collective effort to make this world a better place.”