One Person Can Change the Lives of Many

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Congratulations Polina Panicharvoa from Bulgaria studying at Florida State University! She is the winner of microscholarship #3! Read her winning essay about how her favorite educator changed her way of thinking about kindness.

One time the teacher at Sunday school asked us what we felt was the purpose of our lives. Most of the answers to that question were, “to help others.” Honestly, when I thought about the true answer in depth, I came to the conclusion that people were such hypocrites to give that answer. I will tell the truth for myself, all I want from life is to be happy, but my purpose here is to get as close as possible to fulfilling what Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Reading his saying at first seems like it is an easy act to be kind to each other. But I think that to be good to each other is very hard. It is easy to give your seat at the bus to somebody else once in a while, or to feed a homeless person; but the hard part is to give your seat to somebody else when you’ve been standing up for eight hours at work and your feet feel like you have been running on broken glass; the hard part is to feed a homeless person with the last couple of dollars you have in your wallet when you haven’t eaten for the whole day. I am not judging the students from my Sunday school whose answer was, “to help others.” I am simply saying that there is more to that to be a good person. And I am very thankful to this one person who put the time and effort to teach me true kindness, my English professor Dr. Welch.

College can be a very inspiring place. There are so many different people with interesting backgrounds, professors who give astonishing speeches, teachers who teach us lessons that go beyond the subject they’re teaching. We learn from each other from sharing experience. For instance, my calculus teacher taught me that studying is more than just memorizing the material and having good grades. He compared education to being a “chef”, saying that a true cook was not somebody who had ingredients and followed a recipe, but a cook was somebody who had ingredients and made something delicious out of them. Therefore, in order to learn a particular subject, we have to study it and involve in it, to be as good as we can at it. Every teacher or professor touched my life in some way, but only my English professor taught me how to be a truly good person. And that is something that college doesn’t really educate about.

My English classes didn’t start like any other class. My professor took attendance in a very interesting way. He would ask a question and call the name of each student. The student, if present, had to answer the question. My professor’s questions varied, he could ask what our parents did for a living or how we thought the world would end. Although having a short discussion with each student at the beginning of the class took a big part of the class’ allotted time, he would ask us a question every class. Coming from Bulgaria it was very interesting to me to hear about other people’s lives. However, I didn’t quite understand the purpose of this question-answer routine, so one day I went to my professor’s office to ask him about that. His answer was simple, but it has had a great impact on my life. He said he asked us questions because he needed to get to know the people he was working with. It was a class in which we had to write Rogerian, Position, and Analysis essays. Dr. Welch explained to me that he believed that writing an essay is not just expressing an opinion on a particular subject; it is sharing a part of your soul. It was very important to him to know at least a little about each student in order to evaluate his/her paper at the best he could. My English professor taught me that every person we meet is more than an image; it is an entire life standing in front us. Like a map of decisions and experiences that have made the person who he/she is right now. That taught me compassion and empathy. So next time I am on the bus, even if I am tired, I will give my seat to somebody else. That way I will be doing an act of kindness which will become a part of that human’s life. Then maybe my deed will make another person happier; and then maybe that person will do something nice for somebody else.

Being kind is not an easy thing, but as Dalai Lama said, “…It is always possible.” I will be always grateful to my English professor that he showed me a true act of kindness and inspired me to not just seek happiness for myself, but for others too.

Polina will receive $100 and be featured in the fall 2014 issue of International Student Voice Magazine.

We have three microscholarships left until May!

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For more details and to apply, visit



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