You walk into your student center on your way to the cafeteria, and you see a student running across the lobby and jumping into the arms of another student, amidst exclamations of joy. The biggest smiles you have ever seen seem permanently stuck to their faces as they squeeze their eyes tight, and their arms around each other tighter. You find yourself smiling too, how can you not? That’s just too much love to ignore. You walk into the cafeteria feeling better for it, and more connected to your community because you shared at that moment vicariously.
Ahhh, that community feel. Do you ever get inspired to host a blender event on your campus – to set up an unexpected event or interactive display in your student union to get people from meh to hmm….and then fall flat when you have no idea what to do? It can be overwhelming to think what could possibly make students at your school feel welcomed, connected, and engaged, especially when many walks around with their head down. How do you make them look up and engage with their community? You have heard all the ideas: Before I Die wall, positive sticky notes, selfies with a stranger, dressing up in costume and running around campus… But none of these blender events really get your heart leaping, they seem so generic. Nothing sticks like the scene I described in the first paragraph.
Recently, I saw a “micro challenge” from an organization called Busted Halo, (Catholic outreach for young adults), that asked their followers:
In thinking about our own work at Swift Kick, with the focus on blender events and meh to hmmm moments, I realized that love is a great place to start thinking about making a difference. In fact, it should be the only place. That’s what made the scene I described so relatable, and what would make any community building action really work. That is what we are trying to do after all, make a place where everyone feels loved and that they belong. So, my challenge to you: how can you create an environment of genuine, real love at your school?
To get you started, here are some questions (and examples) to consider about your school specifically:
- What’s a “pain point” at your school? A difficulty many encounter, big or small?
- e.g.: the wait at the cafeteria is crazy long, making one hesitate before grabbing lunch there
- At what moment in your day, on your campus, would you really appreciate a helping hand or kind gesture?
- e.g.: swiping/scanning into the res hall is almost impossible if your hands are full. Help!
- What behaviors does a student at your school who isn’t engaged exhibit?
- e.g.: sitting alone at the tables facing the windows, back to the rest of the cafeteria
I bet you can already come up with some ways to make someone feel good based on the random examples I gave above. Now turn that great energy to your school and look for the opportune moments to help another student! You don’t have to put together an elaborate event to get someone to feel like they are part of your community. It can be as simple as being more purposeful in your interactions with others, or helping put together a quick solution to a common problem.
Ready, set, random act of kindness!