The 10th annual Kindness Day brought kindness cards, posters, snacks and dog time aplenty last Thursday. Kindness may be something that many find intuitive and can do without thinking about it too much, but Kindness Day is far from simple and doesn’t happen at the drop of a hat. Spearheading the operation are co-coordinators Miriam Berra Krugman ’20 and Emma Forster ’22.

In an interview, Forster told the Justice that Kindness Day was started to “celebrate the kindness that goes on here on campus. ... My interpretation of it is that even though kindness is such a big part of Brandeis culture, the other thing that’s a big part of Brandeis culture is this rushed, super busy atmosphere. It fits in to give people a time to pause and really take the time to recognise and appreciate the kindness that goes on on campus at the moment.” Krugman added that Kindness Day offers the Brandeis community a chance to “highlight what’s already here, to make space and time to highlight what already exists but what we don’t always have time to remember.”

Krugman became involved in Kindness Day during her first year at Brandeis, she said, and has been a coordinator for three years. Forster has also been involved since her first year, and served as coordinator for the first time this year. To pull off such an event, an entire team has to be involved, Krugman explained, saying, “There’s the two coordinators, and we run a student committee. Within that we have coordinating positions that work with clubs and faculty. We also have a staff committee that our coordinators meet with, this year with staff from all across campus. ... That’s a way we can get events happening through those avenues. We also have an advisor, Katie McNamara. We meet with her several times a week to help get stuff happening. We also have the Kindness Catchers, volunteers who start meeting about a month and a half beforehand, and they make thank-you posters that go up around campus and lots of little things like that.”

The event has changed a lot in 10 years, and this year saw a new, three-pronged approach to kindness: kindness to others, kindness to the environment and kindness to yourself. This new approach was reflected in the brand new events, including the introduction of the Be Kind To Yourself Fair and the Kindness Festival, where passersby were able to play games, enjoy pizza and pack backpacks for the Prospect Hill Kids Club. Explaining the fair’s role in the day, Krugman said, “A lot about Kindness Day is being kind to others, and being kind to other people, but this fair [was] really about being kind to you, checking in with your mental health.”

Perhaps inevitably, the event has become uniquely personal to both co-coordinators of the event. Forster explained, “My hope is to see Kindness Day and kindness happen all around campus, to see engagement with the activities and things that we have planned, realizing it’s Kindness Day and talking about it and enjoying it. We want to continue to grow each year, continue to keep it visible on campus and to spread the word off campus too. Positive news, knowing that an event like this is happening, could be used in lots of avenues.”

As for Krugman, perhaps this year’s event is bittersweet. “This is my last Kindness Day on campus, so I’m really looking forward to seeing everything culminate. I’ve been involved all four years, and seeing how it’s grown alongside me as a student is really cool. I’m excited to just be present in the moment and seeing how it affects people’s days,” she said.

There are plenty of ways to show kindness, and Forster recommends recognizing the power of empathy when looking to be kind, saying, “I like to show kindness by being empathetic, being able to listen and be able to tell what someone needs and could use in that moment.” She calls it “consciously and constantly being there for people,” she added.  Krugman agrees with the power of listening: “In general, I love to show kindness by being an active listener, by being there for people and by being a good friend.”

Beyond Kindness Day, there is always a need for kind behavior. How can one do that best? For the answer, Krugman pointed to the event’s sticker from last year, which said ‘Be kind today and every day.’ “Of course this is Kindness Day,” she said, “but this is really a way of life. I think a lot of the things we do, even though they’re activities you do once, show people that there are things that you can do every day. You can write a note on Kindness Day, but you could also send a text to someone on another day. You don’t need a Kindness Card.”

So heed their lesson: kindness isn’t just for Kindness Day, Brandeis.