Embracing Identity, Empathy & Storytelling- Chris O' Shaughnessy Visit
by Toby Chen '25
NOVEMBER 23, 2023 - 3 MIN READ
On a memorable day at our school, we had the incredible opportunity to host a guest speaker, Chris O'Shaughnessy, who enlightened us with his insightful and engaging presentation. Chris is a passionate speaker, author and comedian who engages organizations and international schools with topics such as cross-cultural understanding and globalization. Throughout his visit, he covered a range of thought-provoking topics, including Third Culture Kids (TCK), the significance of empathy, and the power of storytelling.
Chris laughs as he remembers moments in his childhood growing up as a Third Culture Kid. 
One of the topics Chris explored was Third Culture Kids. Being a TCK, it is often hard to answer the question “Where are you from?” Chris was born in the UK, grew up around US military bases, and traveled around Europe and the Middle East, so he definitely related to these struggles. He shared that being a TCK has shaped his childhood and experiences. He faced challenges growing up, such as not fitting in, but being a TCK ultimately gave him a set of ‘lenses’ that allowed him to navigate a culturally complex world. This message resonated with many students in HKIS’s diverse school community who often feel like they aren’t quite ‘American’, yet don’t fully identify with their parents’ culture. In this session, he encouraged students to be proud of who they are, embrace their own culture, while appreciating others’ cultures as well.“Chris encouraged students to be proud of who they are, embrace their own culture, while appreciating others’ cultures as well.”

“Chris encouraged students to be proud of who they are, embrace their own culture, while appreciating others’ cultures as well.”

                       Empathy is "the ability to be moved by the feelings of other people." 
Another focal point of Chris’ talk was empathy. He shared the meaning of empathy as ‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.’ Chris believed that empathy can foster connections and build supportive communities, especially during tough times.

Chris shared a personal story from his middle school years. There was a new student named Stephanie who moved from the UK to his school in the US, and was severely bullied and ignored. Chris understood how it felt to be belittled because he faced this himself, and thus made it his daily goal to talk to her. Chris didn’t think much about this until many years later, when he was working in a bank, and was slipped an anonymous letter. This person wrote to him about her experience with depression, loneliness and hardships. She shared how he saved her by talking with her everyday, which made her feel seen. The anonymous person turned out to be Stephanie, which not only left Chris utterly shocked, but also emotional and in tears. From this experience, Chris realized that something small to one person can change another person's lives.

Chris captivated students’ attention as he delved into the art of storytelling. “Through stories, we gain unique insights into the perspectives of others, broaden our horizons and deepen our emotions. Stories can be seen differently through each person’s perspective,” he explained. To exemplify this, he engaged the audience in an interactive exercise where he encouraged everyone to write down the most embarrassing thing that had happened to them. The room buzzed with anticipation and laughter as people shared their stories about camping mishaps, school incidents, and other humorous moments. Through this exercise, he not only fostered a sense of camaraderie among us but also demonstrated how storytelling can create connections and bring joy to our lives.

Chris’ visit left an indelible mark on our school community, as he shed light on the experiences of Third Culture Kids, emphasized the importance of empathy, and showcased the power of storytelling. His insights and personal anecdotes, as well as his humor and strong presence, captivated our attention, and inspired us to do good. We are grateful for the knowledge and laughter he shared, and his visit will undoubtedly continue to resonate with HKIS students!

Chris closing his talk by sharing his other social media platforms, such as his Instagram account, Email, Twitter etc.