Experience and empathy

We can be inspired by the wisdom and compassion of some young people.


In a recent intercultural cultural communication class I presented several perspectives on intercultural adjustment, including the classic “W-curve,” the development of behaviors and insights, and personal growth. After the lecture students wrote short essays about it.

One third-year student emphasized the importance of personal experience for the development of empathy and compassion. Here’s her essay:

I learned by many experiences, and I’ve grown up. Many experiences can get us to grow up, I think. I think that to experience things is very important for us. People who have unhappy experiences are very kind because they can understand the pain of other people.

So we should not avoid pain, sadness, and fear. We need a little more effort. We must advance step by step. Then, I think that we can get real growth. I want to know many things that I don’t know more and more, and to spread up my own knowledge, ways of thinking, ideas, and thoughts to become a person who can understand the pain of other people.

That’s wonderful. Many adults criticize the attitudes of youth, but I prefer to be optimistic. We can be inspired by the wisdom and compassion of some young people. (171 words)


Ady, Jeffrey C. “Toward a Differential Demand Model of Sojourner Adjustment.” Intercultural Communication Theory. Ed. Richard L. Wiseman. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1995. 92-114.

Bennet, Janet M. “Cultural Marginality: Identity Issues in Intercultural Training.” Education for the Intercultural Experience. Ed. R. Michael Paige. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press, 1993. 109-135.

Gullahorn, John, and Jeanne Gullahorn. “An Extension of the U-Curve Hypothesis.” Journal of Social Issues. 19.3. (1963). 33-47.