The 2021 EgoStom program supports a total of 30 impoverished students with a living allowance ranging from 300,000 to 500,000 VND / month, starting from January 2021 and ending in December 2021. Benefits will be provided to the selected students every 3 months at the end of March, June, September, and December.

In the first quarter of 2021, EgoStom posted 4 parables via Little Corner of Happiness Audiobook (click on the title link below to view the audiobook):

 

1) Stranded Starfish

2) Puppies for Sale
3) The Brick
4) A Touching Story

The students were asked to listen to the fables and write an essay to share their thoughts and observations as well as their own personal "lessons learned". Through a selection process, three students were chosen as follows:

Prizes Awarded (200,000 VND each):
- Vo Huu Tin, 10th grader, from Tran Phu High School in the Tan Phu district
- Tran Quoc Hao, 10th grader, from Quang Trung High School, Tay Ninh
- Huynh Ngoc Gia Thanh, 9th Grader, from Nguyen Van Nghi High School, Go Vap

- Tran Pham Minh Anh, 7th Grader, from Vo Thanh Trang High School, Tan Phu district

 

Via the fables and their essays, EgoStom’s goal is to understand each student’s moral character, the lessons they learned, and their critical thinking process. Egostom hope to instill in the students the proper morals, and help them grow to be companionate, empathetic individuals.


Stranded Starfish, Võ Hữu Tín, 10th grader

The life journey of every human being isn't always a beautiful red carpet laid out for success and happiness. Everyone stumbles and encounter unfortunate circumstances in life. 

 

Loving thy neighbor means taking care of others and performing good deeds for those in needs. Someone once said: "The coldest place on earth is not the North nor the South Pole, but the place where there is an absence of love." The story "Stranded Starfish" teaches us the true meaning of kindness and love.

 

The tale began when a large storm with tall waves hit the beach.  Countless starfishes were washed ashore the next day, stretching out endlessly along the sandy beach. A little boy was walking along the shore, saw the stranded starfishes and gently picked them up to bring them back into the sea.   While working feverishly to save the starfishes, a man came by and patted the boy's shoulder.  He proclaimed that what the little boy did was meaningless. The little boy  could never save all these starfishes because there were so many to put back into the ocean. But after listening to the man, the boy continued to bring the starfishes back to the ocean. This small act of kindness from the boy in the story has a great significance in the parable.

 

The image of a "stranded starfish" symbolized the fate of many unfortunate people in life. By using a beautiful image of an innocent boy patiently “picking up stranded starfishes” to save their lives, the author has radiated and magnified ”the art of caring” visually and contextually. Our way of life should not be revolving about “taking”, but it should be about “give and take”. "The life of the little starfish will now take a different path" is a direct result of the little boy’s small act of kindness. Lending a helping hand can be seen as insignificant in the viewpoint of some bystanders, but its impact can be quite immense for someone who is in needs. No matter how small the caring act toward others is, a timely act of assistance can sometimes save a human life.

 

The image of the man that the author inserted into the story is not coincidental, but intentional. He represents a group of people in our society who are selfish and only think of themselves. We all are part of the community that we live in, so it is our responsibility to give back to the community. "What you are doing is pointless" is a wrong message that the man is sending to the little boy. Helping one another has always been a tradition and duty of every Vietnamese.

 

An act of giving can give so much warmth to a person's heart when it happens in the right place at the right time. Another point can be made is that it is best to help others because one can never predict what will happen tomorrow since suffering spares no one. The statement "You cannot possibly help all of the stranded starfish and save their lives" is incorrect.  While it is true that we cannot help everyone, when our little help comes at the right time, it can save a broken life. In this day and age, there still exist individuals who see people getting hurt but choose to turn the other way because it is not their problem. As an example, cited in a news, multiple people still casually walk away after seeing a person get seriously injured from a car accident.  That is a shameful way to live and an act that should be criticized and despised by others.

 

The expression "love for another human being" means to have compassion, empathy, to make sacrifices for others and to forgive.  The kind act of giving is of great importance.  It is a precious Vietnamese tradition that needs to be preserved and promoted.  People with compassion will always be respected, valued, and they lead peaceful and happy lives.

 

The story of the "stranded starfish", with its beautiful and artistic images has helped answered countless questions on the subject of human compassion. It belongs to the genre of parables, and very attractive to reader because it carries meaningful messages. The story revolves around the stranded starfish after the storm, the gentle boy and the man. The story is easy to follow and shows the importance of human compassion, and criticizes the unthoughtful and selfish lifestyle.

 

In summary, the story conveys the message: “We should not be discouraged when we help others even if we can only contribute small things. Not all of us can do great things, but we all can do our little things with great love.” The moral of the story is invaluable and quite instructive to many people who live selfishly without thinking of others. To live in community means to love and help one another.

 

As a student, helping friends with studying is a noble act.  Helping the elderly cross the street is a noble act.  Returning lost items is a noble act. Thus … let’s live a noble and beautiful life! Helping others means helping yourself and making this world a better place.


The Brick                   Quoc Hao, 10th Grader

A Touching Story        Gia Thanh, 9th Grade

Puppies for Sale            Minh Anh, 7th grade