Name: Italo Dantas dos Santos
Field of Study: Geophysics
U.S. Host Institution: University of Arkansas
August Question: Tell us about a friend you’ve made during your participation in the BSMP.
I have always heard how essential developing friendship is to the welfare of an individual. As human beings, we need to live in community in order to learn values such as love, respect, and friendship. Without a doubt, living in community is the ideal classroom to learn those principles. As a BSMP student at the University of Arkansas, I had the pleasure of meeting people who have made my life easier in the United States and have been by my side helping me to write this amazing chapter of my life. From those friends, I wanted to write about Seth Washispack, a senior biomedical engineering student who has impacted my existence greatly.
The first aspect of his personality that I find most fascinating is his compassion. I have to confess that his strong desire to alleviate the suffering of others has made me think about how I treat people around me and how I care for them. For instance, Seth used to ask random people the common question: ‘how are you?’. For most people, that question sounds like ‘hi’, but for Seth, it does not. When he asks this question, he is truly interested in knowing how people are doing. I remember once, at the end of the spring semester, Seth and I went to the movies. While he was buying the tickets, he started a conversation with the cashier. He asked her how she was, and her answer was “I’m not really good, but I’ll be fine.” Then, the girl told us that the next day would be her birthday, but she was not excited to celebrate because her mother had died three days earlier. Seth then went to a bakery, bought a cake, candles, and some cupcakes. After that, he went back to talk to the girl and gave her everything he had bought. I saw how amazed and thankful she was. At that moment, I realized that I needed to care more about people’s lives and look for opportunities that would help them feel their best.
Seth also loyally defends others. He does not talk against anybody when those people are not around. Rather, he always highlights the good characteristics of people instead of their shortcomings. For example, a friend of ours started to talk unkindly about someone who was not with us at the time. Immediately, Seth defended that person by mentioning his good qualities. This is an illustration of how loyal a friend Seth is. How precious it is to have loyal friends in our lives. These days, those types of friends are few and far between. There is a verse in a catholic book entitled Ecclesiasticus that says “a loyal friend is a powerful defence: whoever finds one has indeed found a treasure”. This sentence is a powerful truth, primarily because it is so rare to find a friend in which we can truly trust. I would say that I have found this type of friend in Seth.
Seth has played an important role in my life. His personality characteristics have challenged me and led me to seek out ways to make a difference in people’s lives. Walking with him has made me understand more deeply not only the value of a friendship but also the practical meaning of this word. His compassion has taught me to pay attention to people around me. He has amazed me by showing me how safe it feels to have a friend as loyal as he is. Because of Seth, I know for certain that I am not the same person as I used to be before I met him. His friendship has been one of the most precious gifts that I received since my journey as an exchange student began.