More than words…

This entry is dedicated…

To all the well-respected speakers and the organizing committee of the 4th University Scholars Leadership Symposium.

To all of delegates at the symposium who have contributed to its success.

To all of my friends who have walked into my life in the most graceful way I could ever imagine, and will stay in my heart for the years to come.

To myself, who have learned the lessons that can’t be taught anywhere else.

And to you, whoever is reading this, because you have made the right decision to know more about one of the best international events about humanitarian issues in the world.


The symposium means so much to me as the way it does to many other people. It has brought me…


With more than 700 delegates from 45 countries in the world, this symposium brought together the nicest and friendliest people who care about alleviating world poverty. Though it was impossible to meet and talk to everyone in the symposium, I managed to make so many new friends and remember their names as much as I could (it was hard to be honest, but remembering someone’s name is one of the sweetest things we can do).



The symposium has connected me with the people that have become my soul mates. Even though we just met for a few days, I feel as if we have been friends for years and we can share everything together without hesitation.


We learned, we ate, we sang, we played, we laughed and we cried together. We were so happy together, sharing moments, sharing life…

Love is sometimes that simple. We love each other unconditionally, and I’m grateful that we found each other in the crowd.


All too often we pursue the knowledge that helps us get a better job and we forget about the kind of knowledge that helps us live a better life. The symposium has provided us the latter. We had the chance to listen to and learn from the people who have devoted their entire life for a better world and give them our warmest hugs.



Thank you, Bam Aquino, Peter Baines, Pushpa Basnet, Geraldine Cox, Ibu Robin Lim, Tony Meloto, Simerjeet Singh, Pamela Wigglesworth, Lloyd Luna and Francis Kong for sharing your experiences and giving us so much inspiration to make ourselves better people and the world a better place.

“ A day well spent brings a happy sleep at night. A life well spent brings a happy death” ( Simerjeet Singh)

Remember to respect the soul of other people” (Robin Lim)

You have to believe in your dreams before everyone else does” (Pushpa Basnet)

Problems are always there, but we can choose the only problems that relate to what we care” (Miguel Bermundo)

The purpose of going to university is to have the capability to learn” ( Francis Kong)

We can’t change what happened, but we can change what happens next” (Peter Baines)

Start young. Start early.” (Pamela Wigglesworth)



Since the very first day I came to Manila, I have seen so many homeless people and poor children on the street. They sleep alongside the bay, on the pavement, in their tricycles and in doggy tents. Street children who are just from 3 to 10 years old will run around you, with their hands open asking for food and money. Looking at these people keeps me aware of what we take for granted. We are so lucky to be able to afford good accommodation, good food and even travel around the world while so many other people have to live on the streets, eat anything they have and have never stepped out of their own city. Poverty is just a “global issue” when you read about it in newspapers, but it becomes a pain when we really witness it with our own eyes.

I have learned how to treasure what I have right now, and I feel blessed that I was not born in poverty like those children. We cannot choose how we are born. We cannot choose how other people are born either. God does. However, he doesn’t do so for free I believe. We have to give as much as we receive. We don’t know when we will be in the situation that needs help from other people, so why not open our heart and share what we have with those in need?


For every single day of the symposium, I was always happy. I was happy to meet new friends, to learn from the speakers, to hang out with my buddies, to give a hand to building schools for children. We smiled, we talked, we laughed all the time. The happiness I felt was so huge and deep that it is still resonating in my heart right now.


There are little things that could make me feel like I was the happiest person in the world. How happy I was when my friends told me that they loved me so much. How happy I was when I saw people around me laughing and talking cheerfully. How happy I was when the children at Quezon ran to me, called my name and hugged me so tight. How happy I was when I played a game with these little kids and they liked it! How happy I was when I received some little gifts from my friends even though we had just known each other for a few days. How happy I was when I knew that I became a special friend to them.



This is a life changing experience to me and many other people I believe.


Dear my friends who have shared this time with me: Stay passionate. Stay positive. Stay focused. Keep your fire burning. I have faith that we can together make a lot of differences in the world.

Dear others, I strongly recommend that you attend this symposium next year. It will definitely be something that you will never be able to forget. Life is short; we had better spend it well. Time is finite; we had better spend it wisely.

Experience it, try it, and feel it in your own way.


Michelle Tran

10 August 2013



  1. Pingback: A life time experience to remember | Live Positive
  2. Gladys Alda · August 19, 2013

    Hi Michelle,
    I was not able to meet you in the symposium or maybe our paths had crossed together but we didn’t have the chance to talk with each other and be friends. with your entry, I felt you are a good advocate for humanity. just like the speakers in the symposium you had inspired me. your entry was really good because you wrote it from your heart and readers can really feel it, and as i read it many realizations came up to me, that we, even we are youth, we can be a catalyst for social change in our own little ways. Thank you for sharing your life, sharing a moment of your life in our beloved country..Philippines.. how i wish we can be friends as well..:) God Bless..:)

    Best regards,

    Gladys Alda..<3

    • Michelle Tran · August 19, 2013

      Hi Gladys
      Thank you so so much for your encouragement. Maybe we didn’t meet in the symposium but because you have read my blog and I have added you on Facebook just now, we can still be friends right? I’m glad that you have been inspired, which is the best I can expect from writing this reflection. Yes you are right, we can do many little things within our ability, and I’m sure you can do a lot 🙂
      I’m sooooooo in love with your country seriously, especially the people. I have told all of my friends that the best thing in Phillippines is the people who smile all the time and are so nice and friendly…I wish all the best for you and your country Gladys :xxx
      I hope our paths will cross some time in the future and I won’t miss the chance to talk to you then dear 🙂
      With LOVE ❤

  3. Cutting Edge India · August 12, 2013

    Hi Michelle, you’ve done an excellent job putting together your learning at the symposium. You know with any learning opportunity where ideas are exchanged, gaining something is also the responsibility of the participants too and not just the speakers/trainers. Those who came to the symposium with an open, curious mind ready to ask why? Why not? and what if? must have gained something from the experience. As the zen saying goes – ‘When the student is ready, the Teacher will emerge’
    It sure was a wonderful experience interacting with this diverse and energetic group of people. Keep in touch and God bless!!

    Best Regards
    Simerjeet Singh

    • Michelle Tran · August 12, 2013

      Dear Simerjeet
      Thank you for your insightful comment. You are spot on. I’m sure lots of delegates have learned a lot from you and other speakers, and we keep learning even though the symposium is over. You the teachers are those who open the door for us, it’s us who have to walk the path by ourselves.
      Again, thank you so much for coming to the symposium, and for sharing valuable lessons with us. I wish you all the best and hope to have a chance to talk to you again soon.
      All the best

  4. Remi Charlene · August 12, 2013

    i like this a lot! indeed, the 4th USL Symposium is one-of-a-kind, something that I will always treasure in my heart.

    Let’s keep the fire burning!

    • Michelle Tran · August 12, 2013

      Thank you Remi. You are right, it is something we will never forget or be able to forget because its impact is so huge. Please keep your fire burning and make it bigger and bigger.

  5. Kenny Ran Bayudan · August 10, 2013


    You are one of the nicest people that I have met in the symposium. I didn’t feel any awkwardness, any discriminating aura nor any barrier set on a stranger. I am truly blessed to meet someone as kindhearted and warm as you. I wish I could have spent more time with you and not just become seatmates. 🙂 I wish I had gotten to know you better. I believe you’re one of the people in this world who would do great things and touch lives.

    Thank you for becoming your acquaintance. We should see each other soon. 🙂 I hope we meet again in the 5th USLS… 🙂

    Hugs, Kisses and Love,

    Kenny Ran 🙂

    • Michelle Tran · August 10, 2013

      Hi Kenny
      Thanks for your nice words. I felt so lucky to know you too. We sat next to each other for a reason, didn’t we? I hope you will be able to realize your dreams. Firstly I wish all the best for your thesis and I’m looking forward to seeing your picture with Pushpa at her place soon.

      Stay in touch. Don’t hesitate if you need any help from me. We will see each other again some day, maybe this time next year 🙂

      With lots of love


  6. Tanya · August 10, 2013

    Same here! Reading this truly reminds me how happy and how satisfied we were in the symposium! This is one of my life-long memories I’ll never forget! And of course you’re one of the life-long friends that I’ll stay in touch! Love you all! <333

    • Michelle Tran · August 10, 2013

      Thanks Tanya! We definitely have to stay in touch. I can’t wait to read your new blog. Remember that I’m always be there for you when you need me.

  7. Zu Lẫn · August 9, 2013

    what an awesome entry @.@”~
    And sis, u know what? You are the one of my “knowledge”, my “realization” and my “happiness” that I have got in Manila :-* :-* :-*
    Love you so much ~>.<~ my big sis :-p ^_^"

    • Michelle Tran · August 10, 2013

      I love you too my little brother. You are such a lovely and adorable boy. Stay in touch. We will meet in October I hope! Muah muah :***

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