UCI Getting Kind: May Marks Month of Kindness for Campus

MelissaLeeLiveKindWebMelissaLeeLiveKind2WebMay is officially “Kindness Month” at UC Irvine, an event organized by this year’s winner of the XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship, Jasmine Fang. The fourth-year business economics and public health major has organized a month of service activities, sponsored by various campus clubs, organizations and the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. She hopes the project, in the works since the beginning of the year, will encourage students to “pay-it-forward,” or pass on the kindness that they have received to others. This concept also aided Fang in winning the scholarship.

The Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship was created soon after the XIV Dalai Lama’s visit to UCI in 2004. Funded by private donations, the scholarship pays the recipient’s student fees and finances that student’s idea to promote peace, ethics, and community.

“It’s a $10,000 scholarship…$2,500 dollars goes to the winner’s project,” Karina Hamilton, the director of the SAGE Scholars program, said. Hamilton also works with Vice Chancellor Manuel Gómez and Student Affairs to review the potential scholarship candidates and help winners with their projects.

Previous scholars created a meditation group, and a major art installation of peace flags throughout Aldrich Park, according to Leslie Millerd Rogers, communications director of student affairs who had worked extensively on launching the Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship. Most recently, Moran Cohen and Ali Uddin Malik worked together to extend the efforts of the Olive Tree Initiative to other UC campuses to promote religious tolerance and understanding about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Fang, though a busy senior working 15-20 hours a week for her internship with pharmaceutical company Allergan, has organized her own project with the help of past Dali Lama Scholars, SAGE Scholars, and Student Affairs. She credits her parents, who instilled her with principles like “pay-it-forward,” and her service trip to Elías Piñas, Dominican Republic as the inspiration behind her Kindness Month project.

Fang invited a wide variety of UCI student organizations to choose a cause and participate in Kindness Month. Each day through to May 27 (and perhaps beyond May) a different student group will host a service activity on behalf of liveKIND.

“[The activities] are just little ways to help and instill compassion in people’s lives,” Fang said.

She hopes these activities will raise student awareness of the variety of ways they can give back to their community.
“The student participation has been incredible. There were dozens and dozens who came by the first day and made cards,” Hamilton said.

The cards were given to incarcerated women through the Women and Criminal Justice Network. There will also dance performances and speeches given to draw interest in the day’s activities.

Wednesday the Entrepreneur Society invited students to make bracelets for and donate to Kristie’s Foundation, a charity for seriously ill children.

“I’ve made twelve [bracelets] so far,” Kimberley Williams, a fourth-year psychology and social behavior major, said. She helped run the liveKind booth on the Student Terrace last Wednesday.

“It’s been a pretty good turn-out today. It’s been fun,” Williams said.

Other activities include Random Acts of Kindness day, a meditation on kindness and a sand mandela from the Gadaen Shartse Monastary, and sending greeting cards to children and patients at a clinic in El Testerazo, Mexico.

“Kindness Month has been uniting organizations and reaching the broader community—even Mexico,” Fang said.
Hamilton said she has seen liveKIND buttons everywhere. UCI Dining, the Bookstore, Veggie Grill, Lululemon Yoga, and the new Center for Living Peace have been promoting Kindness Month, often through gift certificates, t-shirts and bookmarks.

The event has spawned much positive feedback, as surveys from participants, e-mails and messages posted to Fang’s website live-Kind.org have shown. So many clubs and organizations have come forward, wanting to participate, that Kindness Month may actually be extended past May into June.

Fang hopes that Kindness Month will become a recurring tradition on campus—perhaps reincarnated as Kindness Week.

Kindness Month activities can be found on the Student Terrace from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on from Monday to Friday until May 27.