His story is called “The Dance” in Chapter Three of The Spare Room. A Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, Afghanistan for so long that he became a permanent resident, Quentin left the military to establish a nonprofit organization that uses dance and movement to overcome misunderstandings, cultural barriers, and socioeconomic differences. We recently recorded one of our chats and I’m thrilled to introduce Quentin to you here. This man and his huge heart has made me (and everyone he touches) a better and more introspective person.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Quentin live chat

A few highlights:

At 11:07, we paused to reflect on how different we look on the outside, yet how much we have in common on the inside. A 6’2″ black man wearing an I AM BLACK HISTORY shirt called me from the States. On the receiving side, a 5’1″ Chinese woman sits amidst her books in Shanghai, China. As this wise man reflects, “When you experience multiple people in multiple environments… you become the minority and you become the majority… you start to have a different set of empathy and cultural awareness.”

Application: How might we intentionally expand our social set and place ourselves in new environments, in order to develop a deeper sense of empathy and cultural awareness?

Quentin indeed builds meaningful relationships with an astoundingly wide range of people. An engineer from India… a refugee at Nakivale… a business leader in Shanghai 🙂 At 13:50, he says that it’s really quite straightforward: “I’m no better than anyone I’m walking towards.” Quentin approaches people with empathy, curiosity and humility.

Application: When you encounter someone and feel that sense of judgment coming on, capture it and tell yourself, “I know nothing about you and I will not judge you without knowing you.”

And this was the moment that changed me.

Here’s the mind-blowing new idea for me: “This is their first time.” At 18:10, Quentin talks about how, regardless of how many people have asked him the same question, he reminds himself, “This is their first time this person asking the question.” YES! That’s true humility – putting the other person first. It’s not about how annoyed I am, hearing the same question again. Or about how I really don’t want to give the same answer for the hundredth time. Rather, it’s about someone else’s interest to know more about me.

I now think about this all the time. Having recently been in a small accident, I was on crutches for about a month.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Crutches

After the first week, the question, “What happened?” made me want to roll my eyes and play a pre-recorded answer! I was over it. But then, I thought of Quentin and reminded myself that this person was asking for the first time and most importantly, they inquired because they cared.

Application: Hold the eye roll, take a breath, and answer the question with the respect due to someone who cares enough to ask.

You can watch our entire discussion here:

Check out more chats and photos of The Spare Room heroes here and learn more about Quentin’s org at https://www.movements4movements.com/who.