Friendships teach us more than we know.

14 people, 7 friendships, 1 vision

27 Jul 2017

Friendships teach us more than we know.

"The language of friendship is not words but meanings." -Henry David Thoreau

Like our fingerprints, each of our friendships have their own identity. They are formed, shaped, and nurtured by shared interests, experiences, values, cultures and so much more. They are never one-sided, and we have much to learn from them.

As a Community Manager, I’ve had the opportunity to befriend and learn from our team and the people behind our stories: our storytellers, and story subjects. We are all a part of this community, with the shared vision for making our world better.

This International Day of Friendship, we celebrate the special connection between a storyteller and their story subject. The United Nations believes that friendships between people, cultures, and countries can inspire peace, and build bridges between communities. We believe that our stories have the power to do the same.

Here are six friendships forged and strengthened by stories we’ve told and what we’ve learnt from them:

1. Friends give each other HOPE

Meet Dave (right), our storyteller from the Philippines who told the story of Hasan (left), a Syrian refugee in Malaysia who spends his time helping other refugees.
Meet Dave (right), our storyteller from the Philippines who told the story of Hasan (left), a Syrian refugee in Malaysia who spends his time helping other refugees.

“When Dave visited me at my family's house with his mom, I told them ‘When the war is over in Syria, I want to take both of you to my country’ and Dave said ‘I can't wait for that moment!’ His answer makes me feel I'm not the only one waiting for that moment. It inspires me to continue working for my dream to rebuild Syria.”

Hasan finds hope in Dave’s excitement for his dream. Dave sees Hasan as a source of hope and a “force of good” in his work to help other refugees.

2. Friends expand each other’s PERSPECTIVES

Meet Grace (left), our storyteller from Singapore, who told the story of Sophanna (right), and his relentless pursuit of music to inspire others.
Meet Grace (left), our storyteller from Singapore, who told the story of Cambodian musician, Sophanna (right), and his relentless pursuit to inspire others.

“I’ll never forget the time Sophanna shared his childhood story. These were difficult memories to recount – seeing loved ones murdered, and having to come to terms with illness and disability – but the phrase he used sums up his amazing heart and outlook on life. ‘I have a crazy but beautiful life.’ Despite all that he's had to overcome, his heart lies in helping others look beyond life’s challenges to dare to chase their dreams."

Sophanna changed Grace’s perspective. “We live from the heart, and I want to show the world how to make a beautiful life,” Sophanna said to Grace. These words are now embedded within her.

3. Friends CHAMPION each another

Meet Ashima (right), our storyteller from Singapore, who met Eliane (left) when she told the story of Clown Doctors Singapore, a group of trained medical clowns spreading joy in hospitals.
Meet Ashima (right), our storyteller from Singapore, who met Eliane (left) when she told the story of Clown Doctors Singapore, a group of trained medical clowns spreading joy in hospitals.

There are few friends Ashima can sit with in silence. Eliane is one of them. Both have a quiet confidence in one another. Ashima knows she can depend on Eliane’s calm and caring nature. Eliane feels the same: “Ashima has shown me that it’s worth taking a leap of faith to go for what you are passionate about.”

Both women champion each other. As friends, we all have the ability to encourage one another no matter where we are in our lives.

4. Friends are SINCERE with one another

Meet Thomas (left), our storyteller from the United States, who told the story of how Sok Hwee (right) is breaking barriers by teaching English to migrant workers in Singapore.
Meet Thomas (left), our storyteller from the United States, who told the story of how Sok Hwee (right) is breaking barriers by teaching English to migrant workers in Singapore.

At the root of Thomas and Sok Hwee’s friendship is sincerity. Sincerity in how they live their lives, the warmth they exude to put others at ease, and the strong friendships they’ve formed with migrant workers in Singapore. (They’ve even attended the weddings of these friends from India!)

When describing what he's learnt from her, Thomas said “Sok Hwee taught me that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being open, and accepting of people regardless of where they are from or their background.”

Their friendship shows us that being sincere in the way we welcome other people into our lives can foster greater understanding between us, allowing us to open our minds.

5. Friends SHARE INTERESTS

Meet Bill (right), our storyteller from Hong Kong who told the story of Khai (left) who uses music to empower youth in Malaysia to lead drug-free lives.
Meet Bill (right), our storyteller from Hong Kong who told the story of Khai (left) who uses music to empower youth in Malaysia to lead drug-free lives.

Music brought Bill and Khai together. This photo was taken the day Bill and Khai first met at our Good Story Pitch, when Bill pitched to tell Khai’s story. They both use their creativity to help other people: Khai through music, and Bill through filmmaking. But it was their shared passion for music that bonded them.

Bill and Khai show that friends may be different but a shared interest bonds friends like no other.

6. Friends ADMIRE each other’s strengths

Meet Anshul (left), a storyteller from India who told the story of Coach Zai’s football team, the National Cerebral Palsy Football Team of Singapore.
Meet Anshul (left), a storyteller from India who told the story of Coach Zai’s football team, the National Cerebral Palsy Football Team of Singapore.

Though Anshul didn’t have an interest in football prior to telling the story of the Singapore Cerebral Palsy Football Team, this changed once he met Coach Zai and his players and saw firsthand, the transformative power of football in their lives.

Anshul admires Coach Zai’s determination to bring out the best in his players. Likewise, Coach Zai thinks highly of Anshul’s single-mindedness to tell the authentic story when he took the time to get to know the players during their interviews.

As friends, we admire the traits that define one another.

A seventh friendship...

This month marks my one year anniversary on the Our Better World team. I’m still awed by the good there is in our world. I have learnt so much. I include a seventh friendship to this list that has taught me that friends BELIEVE in one another.

On my first day of work, my teammate Shubhpreet and I realized we recognized each other from primary school – me, the four-year-old with the bowl haircut, and she, the nine-year-old with the long white socks. It took us over 20 years to reunite, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Shubhpreet’s belief in me makes me want to be the best version of myself, and I hope that I do the same for her too.

Shubhpreet and I
Shubhpreet (left), and I (right)

Our friendships teach us more than we know. Friends have the power to make each other better people – whether we’re aware of it or not. The people I’ve met during my first year on this team inspire me with their drive, grit, heart and the impact we collectively create. The meaning our friendships give to our lives help us create a bigger impact in this world.