I was raised to believe in kindness
I spent the better part of my 20’s abroad, whether it was living out of a backpack for a year in Asia, eating street food (hey pad thai, I miss you!) or volunteering at various projects around the world while working with CCS (trust me, you can’t go wrong on country selection!) or even running an administrative office for two years in Panama. I loved my adventures, made friends that I still am in touch with weekly, and even fell in in love with a Panamanian, swearing I could live abroad for the rest of my life.
But I would miss at least one thing: Americans are really, really kind. We take care of our neighbors, we volunteer abroad, we stop and chat with the homeless, we protest when things don’t feel right. Kindness in the US is an old school bipartisan value that I can turn to when things in the year 2017 don’t feel quite as kind.
I’ll never forget living in NYC, after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the part of Manhattan I was living in. Hordes of people mobilized to go into housing projects that had no electricity, therefore no working elevators, despite being a 30+ story building. With no heating in an exceptionally cold October, elderly people and single parents were left without groceries or supplies on the top of that building. There were so many volunteers who desired to climb that 30+ flights of stairs with heavy boxes of canned foods and extra blankets to make sure their neighbors were ok. In the US, the average citizen responds to our neighbors in need.
I’ll never forget last weekend when I was at a wedding in upstate New York, really far from an airport that could get me home to Colorado. In the middle of cocktail hour, a massive family emergency beckoned me back to the West ASAP. With no service and shaky hands, the young man at the front desk of the venue, took my phone, made the phone calls needed, wrote down the phone number for me on a slip of paper, let me tie up his landline for as long as I needed, diverted other customer inquiries, got me water. He went above and beyond what was required of him. And again, I was reminded that if you ask for help in the US, you’ll be answered with kindness, assisted with a smile, taken care of.
I’m sure it will come to no surprise to you that in 2017, our country’s reputation for kindness is being tested.
Here’s where you come in: Make 2017 the year of service. On this day of our nation’s birthday, make it your goal to find a local volunteer assignment, whether that’s helping new immigrants learn English at a local library, to cooking a big pot of chili for your elderly neighbor and bringing it over on a cold day, or lending a hand at an inner-city school by being a mentor. Alternatively, consider going abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions to show the world that you believe in the power of cross-cultural connections.
Let’s vow on this 4th of July to remind those around us, through our own actions, that kindness is the ultimate American value.