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by Nov 15, 2019

សូមអរគុណ (Saum Arkoun) – Khmer

Merci – French

ขอขอบคุณ (Khob Khun) – Thai

Cảm ơn bạn – Vietnamese, or the easy way we understand “thank you”.


Gratitude 2 Photo

It doesn’t matter how many languages my parents spoke to me, or how many I have learned to speak: Khmer (Cambodian), French, Thai, Vietnamese, English or the universal signs of non-verbal language. Since childhood, I was taught (as all well-mannered little people) to say please and thank you. In some cultures, saying please is a sign of begging, but some can also say… a sign of weakness.

We discover many things about ourselves in medical school. Finding our strengths and weaknesses is essential for the journey. What does it mean to be weak? “Lacking; not strong; liable to yield, break, or collapse under pressure or strain; fragile; frail.” They are just words put together to form more words…phrases…sentences, but in the end understanding. Yes, we may have to go through many ups and downs in stages that can define us as weak. But, if there weren’t those stages, how would we know where our strengths are? Where there is strength, there first has to be weakness. 

As babies take their first few steps, they are never steady at the beginning. It’s like watching little drunk people trying to find a balance. A few stumbles, crying, crawling and bumps on the noggin or a safe landing with their padded caboose. Touching objects and holding onto things for support. Some need a lot of support and motivation to continue, but some are better especially when no one is watching. As we all have to stand up or fall during the course of our own journeys, perhaps the most important realization is just to get back up. Through the course of life we find travel companions. There are those who are meant to be with us through different stages of life; if they are meant to be, they will be. The journey may seem far and at times hard, but it depends on your perspective. Effort, time, patience, stamina, and endurance will be the stepping stones you find to help you bridge life’s crossings.

The most universal language for “thank you” is non-verbal. One simple thing can make it great, but when everything comes together, it is very powerful. Look at your one hand. Which finger is the strongest? Now, which is the weakest? Some say the thumb is the strongest and the pinky is the weakest. But look again…when placing your hands in prayer, which finger faces out? The saying from the Bible is: “The least shall be the greatest among you.”  What appears to be weak actually has great strength, and what appears to be strong may actually be weak.

Gratitude is such a beautiful place to be; be present and enjoy your journey! 

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle.

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About the Author

Rina Sem

Rina Sem

Rina Sem is a student at the Lombard, Illinois campus studying in the Master of Science-Oriental Medicine program. Though working in the medical field for 10 years, she is keeping the promise she made to her father to complete her master’s degree. Rina is a first-generation American of Cambodian heritage, and passionate about her studies in the field of complementary and alternative medicine.


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