It's World Kindness Day. Now, that's my kind of day. Today, I pull from my facebook page, a post from over two years ago. I think it fits today's theme well.
About a year ago, I was walking to my car after a day at work. A young student shouted my name, her voice bouncing happily towards me. This student had arrived in Canada from Somalia a year and a half earlier, in the middle of winter. Her mother had lost her husband. The family had witnessed things no person should ever have to see. They had come to Canada with hope for a new beginning.
So on this day, the little girl stood there, excitedly telling me about her day, in full sentences, with almost perfect English. Her mother stood beside her watching me, her eyes smiling with pride. I can't really explain the feeling I had. It was happy. It was warm. This girl, and her mother and siblings, were just one of the many, many refugee families that find a home in my school. I knew them all well. I knew all of their stories. Yet, despite all of what they had endured, they now walked calmly, happily,....confidently through the streets of my town. It took a community of kindness to build this for them. How does that make me feel? Proud.
So, today, I looked through my facebook posts, to find one special one. Here it is. I wrote it the day after they arrived.
There is something special about welcoming a new African family to Canada and to our school. First we met with the mother yesterday and through an interpreter, were able to just peek into her history,... the long exhausting story of trauma, of refugee camps, of the death of her husband, and the marathon journey to safety. She was nervous to meet us. Worried about what to share. Her eyes warming slightly as she listened to us explain how we would care for her children. We told her that we would meet her at the beginning of the following school day.
The next day she arrived, dressed in beautifully bright fabrics, her four children, wrapped up tightly in sweaters and coats and hats, hiding behind. The cold must have been yet another trauma, I thought.
I watched as her eyes glazed over, kissing her children's hands and foreheads, muttering to them in Somalian, words of love, then grasping our hands with both of hers and whole heartedly, pouring with kindness, saying "thank you." I watched her anxiety rise as we walked her children away and up the stairs, saying, "they will be fine," and knowing that she did not understand our words, but hoping, that she could understand our message, our smiles, our kindness. We were practically strangers to her, in a new country. In a strange new land with new weather, and language and customs. And we were taking her children away.
But the kindness in the school took over. There was no need for worry. I smiled as her children, with really no English, quickly made connections with their peers, exploring the things we take for granted like the water fountain, books, pencils, paper and toys. Smiled as their fear just melted away.
All in a days work. I love my job.
© Nina Waddington 2015
October 25, 2015
There are a lot of beautiful things in the world. However, lately people have spent a lot of energy, time, sweat and money trying to get people to ignore, hate, bully, fear, find and highlight all of the bad things. It brings me down. It upsets my friends. It discourages my family. The media love it. They prey on these stories, eating them up, rewriting and letting the public digest them.
But I'd rather turn my cheek and look beyond. I choose to look in another direction.
This is what I saw. I saw a rainy cold day, where I could have cried at the thought of a long winter coming soon, but instead noticed the autumn leaves, even more vibrant against the dark sky. I saw a toddler happily investigating the food in the open refrigerator at Starbucks and the adorable babble between him and his mother. I saw a man smile when I offered him a chair on the other side of the coffee table, while I sat contently typing away. I saw my daughter giggling on the front porch at midnight as a rainstorm whipped up curtains of rain. And then, I saw her take a video and share out that happiness.
The world is full of beautiful landscapes. The world is busting at the seams with smiling people.
Redirect yourself people. It is much more fun to focus on the good stuff.
© Nina Waddington 2015