Shane Koyczan is a spoken word poet who makes hilarious, haunting, and heart-breaking presentations. In February 2013, he delivered a powerful presentation of “To This Day” at a TED Conference. The poem explains the painful journey many children face when bullied by other children and “explore[s] the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.” Yet, Koyczan’s message is one of hope.
I found the poem so moving that I shared it with my thirteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. My precious girl actually teared up as she watched it and said, “Mom, I have to tell you about what happened at school…” My heart began racing as I thought of all the terrible things someone may have said to my intelligent, strong-minded, unique daughter and I waited for her to talk. She proceeded to tell me the following story.
Some boy approached me today and said, “Hey! Don’t I know you?” I was confused at first and said, “I don’t know.”
He asked me, “What school did you go to in 2nd grade?” I thought it was funny that he was asking about that grade in particular but I told him.
Suddenly he exclaimed, “You’re Elizabeth?! I knew I remembered you! When I first came here [to the United States], I couldn’t speak very good English, but you sat next to me and tried to help me. Other kids teased me but you didn’t. We were both little then, but I remember what you did. It made a difference. I was confused about what was going on, but at least I wasn’t so lonely with you around. I really didn’t know what was going on, but you stayed with me.”
As a parent, I have worked hard to raise children who are aware of the effect their actions have on others. I always tell them to try to make a difference in whatever small way they can. When my girl shared this with me, my heart swelled with immense pride.
So whatever it takes, make a difference in someone’s life today. You never know the ripple effect your actions will have on strangers. And for Koyczan, stand up for the “Yogi Bears” of the world who like karate chops and pork chops.