Growing up, my parents ensured that my heart was full of love and that my actions reflected it; so, after learning that KLRN, SA2020, San Antonio Area Foundation, and Santikos Entertainment were hosting a “Turning Conversation into Compassion” event, I was ecstatic and cleared my schedule so that I could attend.
With a warm bacon and egg taco at hand, I found a seat near the top center of the auditorium. I smiled at my peers passing through, awaiting the commencement of the program. SA2020 team members Kiran and Jeanette handed out halves of a quote concerning the topic of discussion. The following activity required for us to find our ‘other half’ and talk about what the complete quote meant. I was able to pair other people with their halves, but I could not find my own. Ironic. I ended up getting into a group of three due to a small error with distribution, but that allowed me to socialize and network with more students.
Following that activity, we returned to our seats and listened to volunteers share their talents and reasons for attending. The answers ranged from being forced to attend to voluntarily seeking personal growth. Suddenly, while students continued to raise their hand, I caught glimpse of a large fuzzy tiger making its way to the front. Everyone froze and turned to see the one and only Daniel Tiger. I smiled ear to ear as Molly allowed us to take a 5-minute break to take pictures and reminisce in Daniel’s presence.
Sadly, Daniel had to leave and our photoshoot was complete, so we resumed our activity then returned to our seats. Once we were settled, a representative of KLRN welcomed us and proceeded to present a 30-minute mini documentary about Mr. Rogers called It’s You I Like. The film was heart-warming and uplifting, similar to the feature length documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?—only without the waterfall of tears.
After pausing the movie, Molly introduced the First Lady of San Antonio, Erika Prosper. She was enthusiastic about the event and encouraged us to make our city a haven for compassion. The agenda was surely full of spontaneous surprises, because as Mrs. Prosper was speaking to us, her husband, Ron Nirenberg, the Mayor of San Antonio, waltzed right in. We all gasped as Mrs. Prosper let out a joyful scream and gave Mr. Nirenberg a loving hug. He continued her speech and emphasized the fact that each and every one of us sitting in that room had an important role in the future of San Antonio and the world. Talk about a power couple: they each inspired me, to go the extra mile in the name of service and compassion.
We participated in a concluding conversation that required us to move between two walls, similar to a spectrum, from strongly agree to strongly disagree. It was interesting to see my generation disperse between both options, with each person respectfully expressing their opinion and perspective with clear logic and maturity. It was especially fascinating, in my opinion, that we all pressed closely to the ‘strongly disagree’ wall when the statement claimed something along the lines of “all compassionate leaders should never make mistakes.” We all understood that humans are imperfect and that even with a heart of pure intentions, mistakes will be made; however, failures, should not affect the mission of one who pursues compassionate action and service—instead it should encourage them to find new solutions and strategies for the future.
To wrap up the event in its entirety, we returned to our seats for the last time and received an impact bingo card as well as two free tickets to a Santikos theater. The bingo card was full of community-building and servant-leadership type of activities, including volunteering with a local non-profit, using a reusable water bottle, attending a city council meeting, creating art, tutoring a younger student, and attending a faith service outside of one’s own. Using an honesty policy, we are allowed to use our tickets after completing the bingo card.
I am eternally grateful for having been able to attend the event. I enjoyed the activities and found an even deeper appreciation for San Antonio. I found even more ways to give back to my community and live out the lessons my parents raised me with. In the future, I hope to be the compassionate leader that inspires future generations just like those working at KLRN and SA2020.