Stranger 5, Day 5 – Meet David “Compassionate Educator”

Stranger 5, Day 5 - Meet David

Looking around the Starbucks today for my 5th Stranger, I saw a well-dressed man staring furiously at his computer. Surrounding him and his computer were books and papers… it was clear he was too busy to talk to me. But I engaged him anyways.

David was a little skeptical at first, but I saw in his eyes there was intrigue and a desire to help… little did I know he would probably jump to help anyone even though he had much work to do.

So….

Meet David, 36

Who are you?

“I would see myself operating from the context of my faith… a Christian… Educator as an occupation.”

Ah, I started to see why he would be willing to sacrifice some time to work to help me in my quest of 100 Strangers, 100 Days.

He continued sharing his passion immediately, “making a difference in students’ lives.” What a great segue into my next question…

What are your passions? Dreams?

“To see a school started in India… Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).” This was an interesting twist as he was very specific about the city to start a school.

David shared how he “saw the poverty” and children’s “lack of basic needs”. I could tell how much this meant to David from the way he described his need to help. He further validated this with how he became “burdened for the needs for children” and how he wanted to share with the children how they were “cared for and loved”.

David then began to share how he saw his life’s journey playing out — building many schools in remote areas to provide children with opportunities to learn and thrive. The big milestones he foresees include being an effective teacher, especially grounding himself as an able and compassionate educator. In fact, the books that surrounded him today were for his studies as he pursues his Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

As he thought more about the milestones and his future, David surmised, “biggest thing is praying, and to have God’s hand in this massive project”. He wanted to continue meeting people who shared in the vision.

What was your biggest regret?

David thought about this question for a moment before commenting how he didn’t view his life with regrets. Instead, he shared how he believed “all things happen to better us. Even the poor choices I’ve made in the past, they’ve all worked out.”

In one example, David shared his past having studied Aerospace Engineering. This was not ultimately his dream or passion, especially as he’s now pursuing a Doctorate in a completely unrelated field. He looks at this moment as a “stepping stone”. During this time, he learned and understood the value of hard work and money.

What is a life lesson you’d like to share?

“Find joy in what you’re doing with all your heart and might… understand this moment is a stepping stone.” Much like some of the Strangers have already said, David was reflective on appreciating the present — “while you’re there… being grateful of what you have”.

At this point, I really started to understand David. Through all our interactions, you get a true sense of not just gratitude, but a trust and faith that things will work out as he keeps in compass focused. Even through “the trials and difficulties,” he shares, “it’s a process of bettering myself (better person, father, teacher).”

He expands on this notion of “bettering the self” by explaining how with this mindset, you start to see life in a different way. In this way, you embrace every opportunity as a learning opportunity… an opportunity to better one’s self.

What was your Life-Defining Moment?

“My conversion experience… to knowing Jesus Christ… allow me to have compassion for others.” For David, his conversion came during his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma when he heard a message spoken by a pastor. It was the first time he truly thought about life after death. Prior to this moment, he didn’t have the right understanding, so he fully embraced Christianity and his new direction.

Who was your most valuable relationship with? Why? (Thanks to Dasha, Stranger 4)

“Jesus Christ. He has been my provider, friend, and light… guided me to where I am today.”

David admits having several dark moments where all seemed hopeless. However, he always had his faith to turn to.

I wanted to ask for a dark moment, but believe he would have shared, if he truly wanted to. We’ll see if I press others when this comes up in the future.

Final thoughts?

“Challenge and encourage people to share in aspirations. Think about living their lives… what really counts, what really matters.”

What’s a question you would like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“What is true happiness?”

David wanted to understand how the person responds believing the response “defines what they’re living for”.

After the handshake.

Not a religious person myself, I appreciated hearing how David found comfort and his compass with his Faith. Christianity had enabled David with so much, and through his relationship with God/ Jesus, David was compassionate and was on his path towards helping countless others.

Further, David’s question for tomorrow’s Stranger plus his responses around final thoughts and life lessons, he continued to hit home a recurring theme I’ve heard just 5 days into this — live life in the present and appreciate the [present] moment. I’m very curious to tomorrow’s response to “what is true happiness?”

Also, David and I talked shortly about this notion of trusting the current path as a betterment of the self. This hit home for the second day in a row this idea of how you can only “connect the dots looking backwards” — an idea espoused by the late Steve Jobs.

So meet David. No longer a Stranger.

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