RAKtivist: Surina

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On a typical Saturday night, similar to most adolescents, I was browsing through the apps on my phone. Feeling cozy, I nestled myself under the covers of my bed in polka dot fuzzy socks, an over-sized Avengers t-shirt, and pajama pants that were adorned with green and blue stars. Needless to say, I would never face the humiliation of the public in such attire. I began my usual routine of liking all my friend’s photos on Instagram and replaying their Snapchat stories, but that night, while scrolling through Facebook, I encountered something unusual.

My favorite keynote speaker, Houston Kraft, had shared a video regarding Mister Rogers. He encouraged his family and friends to watch it because it was worth shedding tears for. Without hesitation, I tapped the screen of my phone, because what can I say, I’m a sucker for heartfelt stories. The video revealed Rogers conversing with Jeff Erlanger about his confinement to a wheelchair. My lips curled into a smile when they sang a duet to “It’s You I like,” which expressed that every person, no matter their imperfections, deserves the same respect and acceptance that any other should.

Like Mister Rogers, I spend every bit of willpower in my 5’2” body, serving my friends and family. I may be small, but with every kind gesture, I am gradually growing. The winter decorations that I set up throughout the school for those that are unable to decorate their homes during Christmas, the local 5k-color run that I organize for the American Heart Association, and the tours that I give to freshmen and new students are all fatiguing tasks, but everything is worth it. My duty as ASB Secretary is merely one aspect of being in student government and though I am content with recording minutes, smiling at others in the hallway, greeting staff members, and attending monthly lunches with the principle to communicate ideas encourages me to haul myself out of bed to serve.

My thirst to help others deepens in the summer as I deck out in jean shorts and a maroon “Choose Love” t-shirt and venture to Seattle with Houston Kraft to commit random acts of kindness. We parade around Pike Place Market with giant “free hugs” signs and embrace random strangers, but give each the same affection. As we pass by the homeless, we hand them homemade lunches and tip musicians and other wanderers with sunflowers. People approach me and ask, “Why are you doing this?” My response is a simple, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” I live in an area where it rains practically 24/7, but my damp clothes and the gloomy sky are not enough to weigh down the goodness that I see in each day.

Similar to Mister Rogers, kindness, as strange it may sound, is something that I want to keep pursuing. Whether this is picking up garbage throughout the community or tutoring a friend in calculus, I know I will make the conscious effort to serve others. Though kindness is such a simple behavior, the labor that goes along with it is complex, but believe me, every bit is worth it. The beams on my friend’s faces, the “thank you” letters, the tight hugs, these are the rewards that make me feel alive. I thank people like Mister Rogers and Houston Kraft for allowing me to understand that there is never enough kindness in the world. With that, I shared the video. For I knew that I had done my job of being a kindness advocate that night.

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