Ice Cream Cones, Sticky Notes, and Cookies: The Kindness of Strangers
By DVGS Editorial
Photographs by DVGS Lens
“To feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know … widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.”
— Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and politician
Have you ever received kindness from a stranger? Most of us have.
Since we rarely learn about these anecdotes from others, it is especially important to share our “kindness victories,” tales in which kindness triumphs instead of fear. By telling these anecdotes, we not only take a break from consuming negative news, but we also remind ourselves of the kinds of people we aim to be.
A couple of days ago, I was near the Buddha Hall when a lady asked me to fill her water bottle for her. Feeling confused because she was a stranger, I hastily did as I was told. However, if fear had stopped me from helping her, I would not have been pleasantly surprised with what proceeded after I returned from filling her water bottle.
On September 28, 2018, Developing Virtue Girls School students chatted about their experiences of kindness from others in an activity hosted by ServiceSpace. A tree of well wishes stood peacefully in the center of the sharing circle, and the wishes written on paper leaves hung quietly from the gray branches.
A Scoop of Generosity
ServiceSpace volunteer Sophie Wu related the charming story of an incident at a city fair. While wandering around at the fair, her six-year-old “baby sister” began begging her for a vanilla ice cream, so Sophie asked for one at the ice cream truck nearby. With no cash on hand, Sophie took out her credit card to pay for the cone. However, the ice cream truck worker informed her that only cash was accepted. Seeing her dejected baby sister, Sophie felt gloomy as well. Just then, the lady behind them in line blurted out, “Here’s five dollars!” and hurriedly gave Sophie a dollar bill, which she refused. Sophie and her sister were about to leave, but, caught up in the waves of generosity, the ice cream trucker worker exclaimed, “Hold on, here’s your ice cream!” and gave them one for free. Sophie was deeply moved by the kindness of these two strangers. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Movement Room in IITBT Bldg, she finishes her recount with heartfelt enthusiasm.
Many students shared simple acts of kindness that they experienced, such as when their friends got dinner for them since they were sick, or when teachers surprised them with tasty snacks to relieve stress. The inspiring discussion of these modest acts was a welcome contrast to the arguments and fighting that we often hear on the news today.
On Another Note
A senior related a story that happened to her last week. On Wednesday morning, she walked into the school, leaving the crisp morning air outside, and trudged upstairs. Instead of dull, slate-gray lockers, she was met with lockers embellished with colorful sticky notes on them, which enlivened the dim hallway with their encouraging messages. Someone had anonymously taped the notes on the lockers the day before. Messages included “Don’t Give Up!” and “You’re almost there!” They lightened the serious study atmosphere and evoked smiles from many students.
Kindness Is the Best Medicine
A freshman tells a personal anecdote about an accident she had in a hotel. After she had accidentally cut her chin, she had to get an operation. The hotel staff made her day by surprising her with a get-well-soon card and cookies.
Though the students at Developing Virtue Girls School often have opportunities to help others and contribute to the community, the students rarely have the chance to share remarkable stories like these in a large setting. …
… Many assume that sharing stories is all talk with no real effect on the world, but this is not true. Through this activity, the students realized the universality of kindness and the growing presence of kind people in the world; this realization will certainly influence and change their actions in the real world.
Just like the warm-hearted ice cream truck worker, the anonymous sticky note writer, and the gracious hotel staff, the lady who needed her bottle to be filled also surprised me with her kindness. After receiving the filled bottle, she gave me two gifts, explaining their significance and value to her. Afterwards, I walked away with not two, but three things — a cracker from Japan, an intricate origami lotus, and a newfound confidence in the innate kindness that we all possess.
Categories: Core Virtues