A few extra doses of kindness

Kindness Day is an annual Brandeis tradition. This year's organizers decided to do a little more.

kindness day organizersPhoto/Emma Forster

Emma Forster ’22, Charlene Duong ’23 and Ashley Young ’22.

By the time November rolled around this fall, it felt like everyone on campus needed a bit of uplifting. With no breaks since September, the vibes have become increasingly tense as we all ride out these next few weeks before Thanksgiving break and look ahead to exams.

Cue Kindness Week, a desperately needed boost of positive energy during this fall semester.

Kindness Day has been an annual Brandeis tradition for more than a decade. Every November, as much kindness as possible is packed into a single day. This year, organizers Emma Forster ’22, Charlene Duong ’23 and Ashley Young ’22 decided the student body needed something more.

“We celebrated much as we have in the past, incorporating Kindness Day traditions and a few new ideas,” said Charlene Duong ’23. “We thought that more than ever, a week of compassion was much needed. Our biggest change was centralizing celebrations around four key themes with one each day.”

All week, events held by the Kindness Day Committee spread good vibes across campus that were impossible to miss.

“Kindness to the self” was the theme on Monday, highlighted by the Be Kind to Yourself Fair. Tuesday was "kindness to students" featuring the Usdan Neighborhood Social. Wednesday celebrated “Kindness to the community” with a service fair, and “Kindness to each other” on Thursday featured a celebration in the Shapiro Campus Center.

“Our goal was to focus specifically on uniting the Brandeis community. We felt that it was an especially important time to celebrate togetherness after two semesters of challenging online semesters,” said Ashley Young ’22. “We heard from many students that they are struggling to balance the challenges that come with the readjustment into a fully in-person school year. It was important to us to utilize this event- one of the first fully in-person campus-wide events- to give everyone an opportunity to pause and celebrate being back together.“

Photo/Mary Horan

A Kindness Week event inside Shapiro Campus Center

There was an event at Chum’s on Nov. 8 to create kindness cards that provided free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to anyone who wanted to de-stress and ring in kindness week right. The “Be Kind to Yourself Fair” in Fellow’s Garden on Monday featured flowers, brownies, care packages, hammocking and trail mix provided by the Brandeis Mountain Club, and support from PARC and Brandeis 6Talk.

On Monday night, I attended the Coffee House Kickoff at the Rapaporte Treasure Hall, with performances from campus a cappella groups and solo artists in the Brandeis community. Seeing what these groups had to offer in one of the first in-person live events I have been to this year was incredible. As wonderful as Zoom is for social distancing purposes, nothing can have the same energy as a live performance holds.

I think a lot of people forgot what it’s like to perform in front of a live audience, and this was a low-stress way to reintroduce that idea. Everyone was cheered on, and everyone was welcomed with open arms to do their best and be themselves. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off Kindness Day this year.

“I was pretty nervous, it’s been so long since I was up in front of an audience, but it was clear to see that everyone in the room was just so happy to be there and to regain a sense of normality in how we engage with our performative passions,” said Kaleigh Sislen ’23, a member of Too Cheap for Instruments, who sang two songs at the coffee house.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Usdan Neighborhood Social featured hot cocoa, Lizzy’s ice cream, and resources and treats provided by the various departments in Usdan and across campus. So many departments were giving out free swag, and having various giveaways during this event, it was worth going even just for the nice GSC beanie to keep your head warm now that the weather is getting colder.

The highlight of kindness week for me was the Kindness Trivia night held in the Stein on Thursday night. I always enjoy the Stein trivia every Thursday anyway, but I thought it was so fun to include kindness day questions. I even learned that International Kindness Day is on the 13th of November every year and that it doesn’t always align with Brandeis Kindness Day.


Photo/Mary Horan

Seeing everyone on campus come together and help each other out after a sometimes stressful re-introduction to on-campus life was so heartwarming. Getting to be a part of it myself was even better. This was my first official in-person Kindness Day on campus (having been a midyear), so being around all these people working so hard to spread kindness, and feeling that energy was something that I’ll never forget. The energy during these events was so palpable because everyone knows how lucky we are to be able to do these in-person events, especially after the past few years we had, so it was clear that the coordinators and team members were trying to make up for the past year’s gloom.

At events throughout the week, members of the Brandeis community had a chance to write kindness cards: cute pink postcards with the kindness day logo that anyone can fill out and send to any member of the community. By the end of the week, over 1000 were created to be stuffed into mailboxes and mail stops for students, faculty, and staff on Monday.

“We feel so grateful for the way that the Brandeis community received the events of the week,” said Emma Forster. “Folks were really willing to dive in and embrace the celebration of kindness.”

Maddy Dulong '23 is pursuing an IIM in communications and business, and is a student writer for BrandeisNow.

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