Pupils learn unexpected lesson on empathy over pot of meatball soup

Candice Cai
Saturday, Mar 25, 2017

It was a simple pot of meatball soup - but it taught a class of Taiwanese elementary school kids an important lesson on empathy.

In a Facebook post, a teacher known as Ms Shen wrote about how the children in her class would have their meals in school, and how a less-privileged pupil would take away the leftover soup for his family's dinner every day.

One day, after enjoying their favouite meatball and radish soup, a pupil had requested if they could have "one more pork ball" each.

Peering into the pot, Ms Shen realised that if everyone in class took one more meatball, there would not be any left for the boy.

Ms Shen asked the boy to leave the classroom to run an errand before turning to the class with the question: "What soup do you all have for dinner at home?"

After the children gave various responses ranging from chicken to fish, the teacher then asked: "Do you know what your classmate has for dinner at night?". She knew the children were aware that the boy would have the leftover soup for dinner.

The teacher wrote that many times the leftovers would consist of just the soup devoid of any meat or ingredients, which his ravenous classmates would have devoured.

The class grew quiet after her question as realisation sunk in, wrote Ms Shen. She then told the class: "There is enough for everyone to have one more pork ball each, for those who want it. After all, your parents have paid for your lunch in school. But if you don't really need to have one, let's allow your classmate to bring the remaining pork balls home, shall we?"

Seemingly unable to resist the draw of the delicious soup, Ms Shen saw the children still queued up for more soup.

After everyone had finished eating, Ms Shen went to the pot and was surprised by what she saw. The 20 pork balls remained in there, untouched. She realised the kids had only scooped out the soup, leaving the ingredients for their classmate to take home.

Ms Shen added that when the boy came back and saw that there were still so many meatballs left in the pot, his eyes 'shone with happiness and wonder'.

As a reward, Ms Shen gave everyone in her class biscuits, "without saying why".

"Because they knew exactly why," said Ms Shen. The teacher's story, that was posted on Facebook on March 17, swiftly went viral, with close to 5,000 shares and more than 2,000 comments at the time of writing.

The story also warmed the hearts of netizens with many praising Ms Shen for seizing the opportunity to teach the kids a valuable lesson.

Some also praised the pupils' maturity, and ability to put the needs of their classmate above their own.