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Photos courtesy of Jam Moreno.

NYUAD celebrates World Kindness Day

The week was sprinkled with acts that encourage students to practice kindness, promote empathy, cultivate compassion and forge a language which shows that one does not have to make a grand or time consuming gesture to be kind to oneself and others.

Nov 28, 2021

A week of communal love, gratitude and appreciation.“World Kindness day is on the 13th ... and we’ve been doing it for three to four years [but] this year it happened to [fall over the weekend] and therefore we wanted to sprinkle acts of kindness through[out] the week,” explained Kaisa Pedersen, Fitness and Wellness specialist under the NYU Abu Dhabi Athletics Department.
From Nov. 7 to 10, in celebration of World Kindness Day, the Athletics Department provided close to 105 NYUAD students with complimentary meals at eateries based across campus. “We chose locations and specific timings everyday where the first five people in the time allocated were given whatever they purchased for free,” elaborated Pedersen.
“I was in line at [the] Melt and I was getting ready to get a quick lunch after a hectic morning … the cashier showed the sign and said this one’s on us and I got a free açai bowl ... I get one at least three to four times a week so it was such a pleasant surprise,” shared Lyna Ammagui, Class of 2025. “We’re wrapped up in assignments all the time and I think just stepping back [and] getting that little gift ... really changes perspective and really made me motivated to finish my day ... and made me a bit more optimistic in general.”
In addition to extended programming, Pedersen also noted the changes made in activities they could host as previous acts of distributing fruits with handwritten notes of affirmation were discontinued in order to abide by public health and Covid-19 safety guidelines.
Although wellness efforts look slightly different this year, acts of kindness like these helped ensure that efforts to reduce stress levels and reinstill hope among the NYUAD community were not lost even in the depths of the pandemic.
These random acts of kindness, although in different forms this year, did not go unnoticed by students. Ammagui shared how they provided assurance and indicated a recognition and consideration for student wellbeing at an institutional level: “I think initiatives like this are super important at NYUAD when you have a very strong and rigorous academic system … We forget to enjoy little moments and appreciate each other and I love that now that we’re in-person, NYUAD is making these efforts to make us … appreciate each other. Covid[-19] put a lot of us away from social experience so it's really important that we lean on each other.”
However, programming was not limited to complimentary meals. REACH, a student led peer support group focused on maintaining communal wellbeing, in collaboration with the Athletics Department, adapted their “Pay It Forward” initiative to World Kindness Day where over 100 students signed up to exchange acts of kindness anonymously.
“We [wanted students to understand] that acts of kindness do not have to be monetary. It could be words or ways that you could think in your own sort of way … to draw attention that sometimes it takes a smile or hello to make someone’s day or opening the door,” shared Pedersen.
Moyosoreoluwa Olatosi, REACH member and Class of 2024, shared how rewarding it was to both facilitate and partake in the Pay It Forward initiative: “I felt impactful. I was helping with logistical stuff … writing the letters, sending the emails [and] on ROR … we could see people already giving out stuff and taking pictures. [When] you’re part of the program and see the impact it has on people and see them smile, it was heartwarming,” shared Olatosi. “I [also] really like giving people gifts ... it felt good to reach out to someone because you don’t really know what people are going through and this semester can get really tough so I also left a note of encouragement.”
This week was sprinkled with acts that helped encourage students to practice kindness, promote empathy, cultivate compassion and forge a language which shows that one does not have to make a grand or time consuming gesture to be kind to oneself and others. Such initiatives helped students disconnect from social media and connect with themselves: they aided in building healthy relationships as well as an inclusive and supportive campus culture.
“We try to reach people and advocate for mental health conversations … [such as] the peer to peer aspect of REACH. It’s student-initiated, student-led and ... [impacts students] and I think that’s what made us very important in World Kindness Day. We kind of see students' sentiments, know what they need and we take that in our meetings and close those gaps. Pay it forward was a good way to remind people to be kind ... and facilitate peer to peer connections when they don’t always happen naturally,” said Olatosi.
The collaborative efforts that facilitated these acts of kindness came with a message to continue to reflect, prioritize self care and celebrate the people around us.
“We will still continue this World Kindness Day tradition for the years to come,” noted Pedersen. “The idea is that it doesn’t become this one day but it’s something that’s embedded in you, like simple gestures and giving back … I think that’s [the] most rewarding. A domino effect [of reciprocity] is the end goal.”
Aashraya Dutt is Deputy Features Editor. Email her at
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