A flyer caught my attention as I walked through the Penn State Brandywine campus last week on my way to teach my Communication Theory course: Random Acts of Kindness Week Celebrations from February 9th to 13th. The Laboratory for Civic Engagement planned a week of kindness activities on campus. The other day, I had just tweeted a message about how #kindnessmatters after being the recipient of extreme kindness. Instantly, I recalled the beautiful, heartfelt, and well-written essay that my Literary Experience student had written last semester about being kind. Her father, who had recently passed away, had taught her this golden lesson: Always be kind to others. She communicated to our class that every day she is buoyed by this lesson—to keep his memory alive by being kind to others, especially when things are challenging. Her classmates and I were impacted by her own kindness in sharing this deeply personal life experience. We were better for knowing her—and her father—through her writing.
As my class read This I Believe, one of my favorite books that instructs on how to live your mission, several other students referred to kindness ideas: positivity, gratitude, perseverance, self care, and discipline. They emphasized character. They emphasized the importance of treating others with respect. They emphasized to me this fact: Kindness matters and we need more kindness in our world. While these high-achieving business and nursing students at Villanova University could have written about other values like competition and achievement, they focused on kindness. Their selected topics were highly instructive.
My Random Acts of Kindness Week #RAKWEEK15 has already begun. Attending a fundraiser for Mothers’ Home on Saturday night, I looked for opportunities to be kind–in an atmosphere where kindness was already the focus. After a while I noticed one of the organizers who had staffed the raffle table hadn’t taken a break, so I offered to get her something to eat and drink. I was asked to pick the winners for the raffle, providing a few moments of assistance. In conversation, I focused on everyone I was talking to–asking about them and their own stories. I was reminded of my students. As someone who has always appreciated the little things, my challenge is to show even more kindness. For example, as an educator, how can I incorporate this idea more readily into my courses? How can I help students create a kind community that extends beyond my classroom into the hallway, the dorm, and, ultimately, the workplace?
How will you celebrate kindness this week? What will you do? I’ll be documenting my kindness week on Twitter — I hope to see you at #RAKWeek15 because as my students so aptly demonstrated Kindness Does Matter.
Here’s to a week filled with kindness!
To explore kindness ideas, see the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.