What are some of the lessons from the book that you can draw from and relate to your everyday life?


24 thoughts on “Lessons

  1. Krissy Govertsen says:

    A majority of the lessons I have learned revolve around the theme of “Help.” I believe the biggest lesson I drew from reading this book is accepting the help that you are given because it may lead to greater things. Deo found people along his journey that pointed him in the right direction and guided him to success. Some may say that he was lucky, but I believe that those people saw ‘the good’ in him. I have learned that if you just be yourself, someone will help you. Everyone spends a moment in their life needing help. That is human nature. We are wired to work together, instinctually we cannot function alone. When Deo came to America, he was alone. First he found god, then he met people. At first he kept his distance, but with time he opened up to the people who led him to Columbia to educate himself, so he could ultimately return to Burundi and give back. The success Deo found by accepting help, and guidance from people made me realize that I cannot handle everything on my own. I may need to accept help, or even ask for it, to reach my goals in life. Another lesson I have learned is that receiving help does not make me weak, but simply human.

  2. Amelia says:

    The lesson that I took from Strength in What Remains is that appearances can be decieving. The section where Deo is homeless and sleeping in central park really struck me. When I come across a homeless person, I subconsciously make a negative valued judgement about them. I wonder how many people walked past Deo and did this same exact thing, not knowing that in a years time he would study at Columbia undergrad, and carry on to change the world for better. We naturally label people by the way they look, what cars they drive, clothes they wear, and even where they sleep. I admire and have learned my lesson from Sharon Mckenna, the Wolfs, and the many people that showed Deo kindness to disregard what he looked like enough to hear his story, and realize his potential. I have learnt to make the effort to hear someone’s story before I make a judgement based on their appearance.This is a large scale event, but an every day lesson to live by.

  3. Matty Wieczorek says:

    It is, undoubtedly, always beneficial for an individual to experience the harsh reality that the life they live is not all that bad. On countless occasions, I catch myself complaining about simple tasks I am forced to complete, as well as everyday issues I must face that really are not immensely daunting. Reading “Strength in What Remains” has presented me with the opportunity to learn many valuable lessons. Arguably the most vital of these lessons is the fact that I live an extremely privileged and wonderful life, and in comparison to those who must face what Deo faced, I do not possess anything worth complaining about. Another extremely important lesson that I did not necessarily learn, but was reminded of throughout the course of this novel, is the fact that no matter where you go, you will discover kindness and generosity, even if it make take a while to do so. Despite the atrocious living conditions from which he came, as well as the awful situation he first endured in New York City, Deo was the beneficiary of kindness and generosity in astronomical doses. Deo was eventually housed and presented with the opportunity to attend Columbia University, both at the expense of other people. Hence, the lessons I have learned from Tracy Kidder’s “Strength in What Remains” are seemingly basic and straightforward, yet often go unnoticed in the context of the book and its severity at first glance.

  4. Vaughan Kavanaugh says:

    I think there were definitely a few lessons that I learned from this book. The first lesson that was pretty clear to me was to never judge anybody no matter what position they are in. Deo came into the country impoverished, with poor language skills and went to work delivering groceries. I think it would have been easy for one to simply write him off as a fool or to think that he was going nowhere in life because of his lowly job. However, no one would have guessed that before the devastating events occurred in Burundi, he was on the road to becoming a doctor. The second lesson I learned from the book was that on the path to achieving one’s dreams, everyone needs some sort of help along the way. Deo befriended a nun named Sharon who helped give him shelter and eventually got a family to take him in. Without this help, it is likely that Deo would have never gone to college let alone be accepted into medical school. This taught me that when help comes along I should not resist it, but embrace the opportunity to have people assist me in reaching my goals and dreams. This story was full of examples of Deo using help from others to push him forward in his education and career. However, he also used the help he received to help him cope with the events he experienced in Burundi.

  5. Jimmy Chung says:

    The most intriguing component of the book that impressed me was Deo’s perseverance. He survives a genocide and civil war in Burundi, and goes through all the struggles in New York City. I believe that if there wasn’t Deo’s perseverance and resilience, he would not have overcome the harsh environments he went through. What the book really taught me was perseverance and I learned that with perseverance, there is nothing impossible. In every day life, I might not experience a genocide or experience sleeping in the streets of New York like Deo, but I want to be like him and have the strength to come back no matter what. Everyone has their times of happiness and hardships. There is no such life without hardships, and when people face these hardships, that is when we should think of Deo and what he went through to inspire ourselves to move one step forward. Even now, as I am writting this blog entry, I don’t know if I am awake or asleep due to jet-lag, but thinking how Deo walked days without sleeping, I will try to force myself to stay awake.

  6. Alyssa Cass says:

    “Strength in What Remains” suggests through Deo’s journey to freedom, that help can sometimes be difficult to accept, but it is often preferable in the end. On multiple occasions throughout Deo’s journey, he saved by strangers. At the banana grove, when all aspirations seem nearly hopeless and Deo is ready to lay with the rest of the bodies, a woman picks him off his feet. At first he is hesitant, perhaps partly because she is a stranger to him, but after much encouragement she is able to help him on. She even offers him a piece of clothing to help create an ethnic disguise to help pass through the next section of his journey. Again in New York, strangers care for Deo. After living in Central park, he is first reluctant to a nun’s attempts to find him a home, some might even say unappreciative. He would rather fair off on his own, rely on his own strength, but perhaps he denied help because it saw it as a sign of weaknesses. Deo at times wanted to be strong on his own, but in truth he really needed other people for his successful escape and recreation of his life. Eventually allowing a family to come into his life and help him was overall strongly beneficial.

  7. Austin Brandt says:

    It is clear that the two main lessons that are exemplified through Deo’s journey are: follow your passion, and be willing to step outside your comfort zone. These two ideas go hand in hand throughout the story told by Tracy Kidder. It took gargantuan courage for Deo to not only travel so far away from his home country, but also to do so without any knowledge of the foreign language or culture. He went through all of this to chase after his dream of becoming a doctor. I can relate to both of these lessons because of my journey to Berkshire, and what I have accomplished by following my passion. First of all, I stepped out of my comfort zone when I came to Berkshire as a freshman. Although not as drastic as Deo’s transformation, this community has led me to become a different person. I followed my passion of freestyle skiing and created a new varsity sport. To do this, I was constantly outside of my comfort zone, which helped me become a more outgoing person in everyday life.

  8. Carrie Babigian says:

    One of the things I admired most about Deo while reading “Strength in What Remains” was not just his overwhelming hopefulness, ambition and tenacity, but his ability to maintain those qualities while undergoing the hardships he faced. On days I have a lot of homework I often find myself disregarding other responsibilities, like cleaning my room or just being nice to people in general. A lot of homework is such a trivial thing compared to what Deo experienced in both Burundi and New York, but he kept moving forward throughout everything. When he was escaping the genocide in Burundi he kept running, and when he lived on the streets of New York City he taught himself English in bookstores and libraries. Additionally, he continued to be good and kind to everyone he met, which resulted in him becoming close friends with a woman who helped him find a home. Though I will probably never have to survive a genocide or sleep in Central Park, Deo’s strength and ability to keep moving forward through exceptionally hard times taught me to strive to do the same when something in my life goes a little bit wrong, while simultaneously showing me how lucky I am to live such an easy and privileged life.

  9. Jason Tao says:

    After reading Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder, I am totally impressed and inspired by Deo’s experience. Deo traveled to a place he never been before, where everyone was speaking a language that he did not understand. Worked in a grocery store and treated inhumanly by the manager of the store. He had to sleep in the Central Park during the night. However, He did not give up. He tolerated and kept hoping. He did not give up because he loves studying so much. He wanted to study in a medical school and become a doctor. A few years later, he got in to Columbia University. Yet, he quitted school before finishing the school. He went back to Burundi and made his dreams come true, to build a clinic in Burundi. The lesson taught by Deo is simple but truly meaningful. One should know his dreams clearly and work hard to achieve his dreams. No matter what difficulties one may face, one should never give up, because one day, one is going to success after all.

  10. Molly Coleman says:

    Everybody wants to be successful, but the difference between a successful and non-successful person is his or her desire. I believe that the people who work the hardest and never give up are the ones who get what they want. This is the case for Deo. A lesson that I have learned in this book is to never give up, and if you keep trying and working hard, you will get the outcome you want. This applies to me academically, and athletically. Deo came to America with a dream, similar to the “American dream”. He started knowing no English, living on the streets, and working as a delivery boy. He ended up being a doctor and graduating from Columbia University. This proves that if someone like Deo starting with nothing, can get that far in life, then so can a lot of people. I have also learned to cherish what I have, that some people like Deo don’t have. Overall, I learned to be more grateful for my life, and I learned to always work hard for what I want.

  11. One lesson from Tracy Kidder’s “Strength in What Remains” is to forgive and forget. Holding grudges will not help a person in the end. All that will do is create unhappiness for the person holding it. It will not make him or her feel better. A person might just regret not forgiving someone or even forget why he or she held a grudge. Grudges are pointless. Do not let something that happened in the past prevent a success in your present or future. Just forgive and forget. Move on and use the forgiveness as an act of kindness that can help others. Deo is not always treated with the utmost kindness in this novel. There are people who have judged and mistreated Deo. He does not let that unkindness affect him though. He does not hold grudges. He also does not let the unkindness to him cause him to be unkind to others. Instead of letting the cruelty get to him, he stays strong and tries being successful in whatever job he could get, even grocery bag delivery. Around the end of the novel, a woman apologizes to Deo for an offense he does not even know of. Instead of just saying that he forgives her, he says, “What happened happened…Let’s work on the clinic. Let’s put this tragedy behind us, because remembering is not going to benefit anyone.”(Kidder 259) Deo proves the truth in what he said through how he did not let his past affect his future. He knows that staying stuck in the past would not benefit him in the end. Instead of dwelling in all the horrible memories of his past and the cruelty of New York City, he moves on from it although he does not forget it altogether. Instead of using his time for wallowing, he used his time to find success. Eventually after finding people who were kind to him, he finally achieves the task he came to America for: to build a clinic in Burundi. Not only does Deo learn from this lesson but he thrives from it.

  12. Anh Phan says:

    The story of Deo escaping death and misery and rising upon himself to achieve his dream is so incredible that it feels almost surreal. Yet Strength in What Remains is not a work of fiction. In order for Deo to get to where he is now he has obtained many practical qualities and experiences that we can all learn from and apply them to our daily life. The first thing that struck me when from Deo’s journal is that in life we need to be brave. We must not let the pain in the past hold us back from pursuing our dream, but learn to strive forward along with it, and we must not allow ourselves to give up. If Deo had given up anytime during his refuge, he would have never seen what he would been able to accomplish. Even in the most difficult circumstances we need to stay strong and sensible and hopeful, because we never know what the future has to offer. Along with being brave we need to be active as well. For Deo’s amazing outcome is accounted largely for the support of the people around him, it is essential that we reach out to others, making friends and forming relationships and don’t hesitate to admit needing help. The environment, the community that we live in and social with, has great impact on our working progress, our career and our life in general, so try to adapt to the surroundings, and most importantly, never stop learning. Observation and comprehension are always beneficial for working our way towards success. Living with courage and flexibility is what makes Deo such a remarkable individual. We should really look up to that and base on it to improve ourselves.

  13. Kendall Smith says:

    “Strength is what remains” is titled perfectly for the lesson it portrays. I realized while reading the main lesson was to follow your heart and let it take you as far as you can go. Let your will to be a better person and to others lead you in the path to be great. Deo was put in numerous, strenuous, situations. He was able to take these situations and positively place them in his life. He overcame the hardships with his will to be the best person he could be. While he had nothing, he still managed to be everything. If we in this world could realize our ability and power to act like Deo had, who knows what our world could be like. This book shows how much a single person can influence and change lives. One man with great integrity and passion can build a hospital for the needy and sick what can one hundred men do? A thousand? Its proof that there is no excuse to be anything less of great. We all have the ability and its time to use it.

  14. Nguyen Ngoc Minh says:

    We human from the Dawn of Time have all felt scared, either once or more. From a toddler, who fears of being punished by his mother for behaving badly in class, to a grown up man, who fears of being given the sack; everybody fears. There are all types of fear: fear of failing a test, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of losing one’s beloved half, fear of death, etc. “Fear”, the most mortal feeling of men, is the biggest lesson I have acquired from the experience of Deo through the book “Strength In What Remains” by Tracy John Kidder.
    Since we were little, our parents used to teach us to conquer our fear; but Deo has taught me to fear. The fear he gifted me is not the fear of burying my head in the pillow, sweating soul through my skin and trembling at the bad omens that signals a rough future. I inherit the fear that gives me “strength”. I fear of failing a test, thus I do it more cautiously. I fear of disappointing my parents, thus I act more consciously. I fear of being penalized, I adhere more to the rules. Fear from doing wrong restores the order in me, making me take more care to my life as when Deo feared in his struggle to escape from his very own country, he never made a choice without considering its danger and its consequences. Not because of luck, it is because of his fear that kept him alive throughout the genocide and his new life in the USA. Fear gave Deo “strength”, the strength that appears in the name of the book. Fear deprives people of their rational thoughts at first, but it grants you “strength” to the despair of “what remains”. And from that strength, the strength that tells you that you cannot end up in the failure you have anticipated, you regain your faith and consciousness. From that power assembled from shattered pieces of strength, you achieve.
    In a nutshell, “Fear” is the biggest significance throughout story to me. However, I did not only learn to fear, I also learned a lot. I learned “Help”, “Empathy” and “Hope”. Furthermore, besides the content, I learned the writing style of Tracy John Kidder and extended my list of favorite quote: “If my child went [to school], I am educated, because I have an educated child”.

  15. Trevor Berry says:

    Lessons that I can relate to in my everyday life to Deo’s amazing journey would have to be how easy I have it in life. Deo struggled to survive every single day and he woke up knowing that. When I wake up in the morning I have the great chance to get an amazing education and live life with no worries. Deo dreamed of coming to the United States and doing what I complain about almost every day. I learned that I need to work hard every chance I have because other people in the world would do anything to be in my position.
    Another lesson I learned from reading this book was to base decisions for the long term and not the short term. I learned this because when Deo made the decision not to help the abandoned baby in the woods it helped him for the short moment but it hurt him in the future. He was never able to forgive himself for doing such a thing. I think that if I can always think ahead than my future will become brighter down the line instead of for the next moments.

  16. Brian Rodriguez says:

    I think there are two main lessons anyone can get out of this and that is being able to step out of your comfort zone and be passionate about what you are doing. Throughout the book, Deo opened up my eyes and showed to me that in order to be successful, one has to be open minded and have passion for what they do. Deo had the courage and passion to leave far away from his home country, and go to a country where he does not know the language and how to get around just to chase his dream of becoming a doctor. He also stepped out of his comfort zone by working at really tough jobs where he could not understand the boss and was pushed around. I, in the other hand, am not good at stepping out of my comfort and being a hundred percent passionate on what I do. Even though I did take a huge step on leaving my home in order to get a better education away, I am still haven’t fully stepped out of my comfort zone. This really haunts me because during classes, I normally don’t speak my mind or seek for help very often, I don’t step out of my comfort zone. There can be times where here and there I do feel confident about what I’m doing, but then most of the times I am not. I can take a lot out of the books, which is why I really enjoyed this book, but Deo really has opened my eyes and gave me a better view of life.

  17. Juliet says:

    While reading Strength In What Remains, I realized how much I am fortunate to have. When you think about your bed, scheduled meals, seeing your parents, and personal items it doesn’t seem like much. But when I imagine that from Deo’s perspective it really sets in. When he talked about how he slept in a home full of drug addicts on the floor and when he went to central park and slept on a mattress, I was shocked. It really set in that people can have so little and still find peace and happiness. I can relate to this because sometimes I feel as though I seem ungrateful for the little things I have. Another lesson this book has taught me is to stay driven to get what I want. Deo overcame so many challenges throughout the book and was still able to succeed with so many setbacks. Overall, this book has inspired me to strive for what I really want and appreciate what I have.

  18. Ani Wilson says:

    The lesson that I took from Strength in What Remains is that every goal is reachable if you have enough perseverance to steer through every obstacle that you are faced. Deo had experienced a life full of horror, although he followed his mission of enhancing his life. When he got to the United States his English was minimal and he had to overcome many difficulties. For example he lived in a hubble as well as in central park under a bush, he also got lost on the subway and had difficulty communicating with others due to his lack of English. No matter what Deo was faced with he continued striving to fulfill his potential, he had such “strength” to be able to get himself out of the seeming hopeless life he had lived. While reading the novel, Deo inspired me to following my dreams and never give up. His story gave me hope that if you work hard, you can over come any obstacle that you are faced with.

  19. Kennedy Alvarez says:

    Strength in What Remains has completely influenced my perspective on life. Deo’s story is a reminder that when life gets tough, determination can get you through any situation. Life is a set of obstacles that will never be easy, but it is how we handle the challenges brought upon us that determines our success. Deo’s set of challenges, however, were much more grueling than most of us could even imagine. Lets look at a task as simple as eating dinner. At Berkshire School, we simply have to walk to the dining hall for a prepared meal, whereas in Burundi, once a week Deo had to carry food by foot on a fourteen-hour trip for his entire family. Rather than quitting because it was difficult, and even painful, Deo kept moving forward.
    When Deo decided to go to New York, he could not see the light at the end of the tunnel, yet he took a leap of faith. With no guarantee of success, he refused to give up. Deo’s story is a wake up call. It has motivated me to live my life in a way that I will demonstrate nothing but kindness, find light in every situation, and refuse to abandon any goal.

  20. Tanner Tomasi says:

    Tanner Tomasi

    You shouldn’t always want more then you have. You should always appreciate and cherish everything you have. Reading Strength and what remains, reading about Deo’s life really reminded me of the great life I am now living. Deo’s life story brought me back to my life story. I was born in Ghana with five brothers and sisters. My dad left my mom when I was just about two years old. My mom was a very hard worker, but she couldn’t support all of her kids. So she had to giver her kids up, give her love ones in somebody else’s hand. I was young and wished to be with my mother, but a wish doesn’t come true sometimes. Not have I only learned life lessons from Deo’s story but have also learned lessons from my own life. The two most important lessons I learned from Deo’s life and my life is that you can’t take anything for granite; you must appreciate everything you have. The other important lesson I learned was that you can never quit when the going gets tough. Many people just want to give up and quit, but the most successful ones are the people who don’t give up, who don’t quit exactly like Deo.

  21. Bennett Wayne Akim Jr says:

    What are some of the lessons from the book that you can draw from and relate to your everyday life?
    One of the lessons that I took from the book Strength in what remains is that if you have money to respect that fact. There are people in this world that fight every day to just make it by. Burundi was poor and did not have the money to provide really any necessary things for the teachers and students. Poverty is nothing to mess around with and that you need to learn to not take things for granted when handed to you. Another thing is the education system was very unfair. It should be no matter a citizen or not that you should be allowed to attend school and shouldn’t have that right taken from you just because you are unfortunate to be under the poverty line and not able to fend for it. I was lucky to be allowed to have that right to be able to go to school and have everything that I needed to be sucsessful. I never gave up

  22. Nate Summers says:

    Strength in What Remains has changed my view on life. Each and everyday I wake up to one of the nicest schools in America and at times I don’t always appreciate it. Deo went through many challenges in life seems to have taken an optimistic view through each challenge. This has lead me to try to be positive throughout my days at school. My parents taught me to always commit myself to what ever it is I’m doing and do it with a good attitude. I have also learned from Deo’s journey, is that once an opportunity is presented, take advantage of it. After taking advantage of many opportunities, Deo was given the opportunity to attend Columbia. I have taken advantage of many opportunities and found myself at Berkshire. The Strength in What Remains reminds me to always be optimistic and take advantage of opportunities when they’re presented.

  23. Bao Nguyen says:

    Throughout the story, I think that everyone in Berkshire finds, consciously or not, the unyielding determination from many characters in this story. I would like to move away from Deo and focus on another character who consistently show this formidable quality, Sharon McKenna. In this story, the first meeting with Sharon was one of the critical turning point of Deo’s life. She helped him with many things, from simple as teaching English to near-impossible as finding Deo a home. “How much energy the woman had!” was one of the questions Deo did not find an answer. Sharon’s dream of finding Deo a home was materialized. With her continuous effort, the woman not only moved the Wolf’s family, swaying their hearts in accepting Deo, also stunned the protagonist: “She wants this more than I do.”. In the end, her determination, to the point of stubbornness, eventually helped Deo to get accepted in the Wolf’s family. Therefore, through this story, the most important lesson to me came from a side character, Sharon, that with adamant determination and continuous effort, even the almost impossible dream can become real.

  24. Charlie Quaintance says:

    This book really changed my view on how cruel human beings can be to one another and how terrible life can be for some individuals in this world. I often take a lot of the opportunities i have been given in my life for granted and never really realize how important they are and how lucky i really am. Strength in What Remains really was eye-opening read for me. For one I realized that my life really isn’t bad at all compared to the things that happened, and still do happen, in Africa. Another thing I took away from reading this book was realizing that when times are tough and it is hard to predict when things will brighten up, it is never an option to give up hope. I realized that if one is trying to improve his or her life then they need to take the initiative and do everything that is necessary in order to find new and brighter beginnings we need to escape that which holds us back.

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