E-Net News

Global Experience course conducts 'acts of kindness'

Twenty-five students in Assistant Professor Laurin Kier's class are blogging about an assignment that honors school shooting victims in Newtown, Conn.

For one of her acts of kindness, freshman Colby Meagle set a collection of pennies up - head first - on many of the paths and sidewalks across campus. Smiles, she said, were here goal.

By Jennie Proto '13

A spring semester Global Experience course for first-year students is honoring the victims of last year’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre as the class blogs about random acts of kindness it performs on campus and in the community.

The assignment calls for each of the 25 students in the class to perform 26 acts of kindness – one for each of the school shooting fatalities – or 650 acts altogether.

“If we lived in a kinder, gentler culture, I just don’t see these things happening,” said Assistant Professor Laurin Kier, the course instructor who was inspired to create the assignment after hearing NBC anchor Ann Curry suggest acts of kindness as ways to honor the Sandy Hook victims.

The blog intends to not only recognize those who died in the shootings but also to perpetuate a greater sense of good will to others on campus, she said. The class decided that any level of kindness is worthy of recognition. Though students may consider some of their own acts to be relatively small, the recipients of that good will may see a much larger significance.

For instance:

- Freshman Colby Meagle knows that finding pennies heads up around campus brings joy to her day, and so she decided to purposely place pennies around campus, in hopes that it would bring others a smile and some good luck.

Freshman Jenny Gage, one of the students in Assistant Professor Laurin Kier's class, attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. She said the "26 Acts of Kindness" project provides her a way to channel her emotions and to symbolically give back to the victims.

- Freshman Kine Eikeland helped a mother struggling with a crying baby, stubborn toddler, and big bags at the airport.

- Over Spring Break, freshman Chase Coble volunteered at a local animal shelter in great need of help due to the spring break rush.

- Freshman Julia David found that kindness can be returned. She held a door for a peer, who returned the favor later the same day. “I think everyone needs a little more kindness in life,” she said.

- Freshman Jenny Gage loves shopping at thrift stores. She recently found a good deal at Goodwill and after paying decided to donate money to support job opportunities. Gage also called her parents to thank them for all that they do for her.

The assignment took on added meaning for Gage, a former student of Sandy Hook Elementary School. She said the project provides her a way to channel her emotions and to give back to the victims symbolically. “When I help other people, I feel whole and happy…so I definitely want to help people when I’m older and somehow change the world,” Gage said.

In the end, Kier hopes this project will make a difference in students’ lives. She admits that the project holds varying meanings for everyone.

“It’s an experiment in the making,” she said.

To read more about the random acts of kindness, visit the class blog at blogs.elon.edu/kindnessproject.

Eric Townsend,
4/12/2013 1:05 PM