With my Pikachu socks (it’s a great look). Anyway, I went to the popup exhibit of “A Mile in My Shoes” by the Empathy Museum in Melbourne.
It’s a shoe shop in a shoe box, where you can borrow someone else’s shoes (and walk a mile in them if you really want to, along the Yarra River or just around the Art Center, I sat down, because I can’t walk in stilettos), and listen to their stories via an mp3 player and headphones.
I think it’s quite an interesting and simple idea, but also quite powerful.
It also made me question some of my unconscious bias. Like one of the shoes I tried on was a pair of pink Converse, and hearing the owner start speaking, I wouldn’t have imagined that she was an aboriginal, and she told the story about how her mom designed some of the artworks in Birrarung Marr, and how she is a bit sad that not many people speak their language anymore and how she started a dance group to promote their culture.
Even though our experiences are different, I was able to relate with her story. As a third culture kid, growing up in a Chinese community in the Philippines, our parents always emphasized on teaching us how to speak Mandarin and Fookien (a dialect from the Fujian province in China), enrolling us in Chinese schools and encouraging (sometimes forcing) us to practice Chinese traditions.
While the stilettos belong to a mother with a transexual child. One of the things she said that made me quite sad, was that she was glad her father, being the traditional Australian, already passed away before her child came out, because she wasn’t sure if he would’ve accepted it well.
I think this experience thought me to never judge a shoe by its cover, and everyone has their own stories.
THE BIGGEST DEFICIT THAT WE HAVE IN OUR SOCIETY AND IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW IS AN EMPATHY DEFICIT. WE ARE IN GREAT NEED OF PEOPLE BEING ABLE TO STAND IN SOMEBODY ELSE’S SHOES AND SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THEIR EYES. – BARACK OBAMA