Tell about yourself:
Leslie (@LPralleKeehn): I’m an Instructional Technology Consultant at Prairie Lakes AEA in NW Iowa. Before that I was a 6-12 Social Studies and 6-8 Computer teacher in a small, rural district in NC Iowa.
Jason (@JD_Rincker): Professional communicator from SW MO
1. How did you find out about RAKs?
Leslie: The term “Random Act of Kindess” is one I had heard before, maybe in passing on the news or on Facebook, but what really got me started was an Ignite session I attended at ISTE in Atlanta this year. Tamara Letter (@HCPSTinyTech) shared her journey to becoming a RAKtivist and completely inspired me to be the change! I tweeted it out, and the #RAKChallenge was born!
Jason: Not quite sure – always been told to be kind to others – the Golden Rule. Think back to the movie “Pay it Forward”. Most recently from various outlets and stories. Leslie tweeted out RAK and I issued a challenge to her. She was to complete a RAK in the following week – which she then called me out.
2. Tell about your Random Act of Kindness…
Leslie: My RAK was semi-premeditated. When I got to Atlanta I bought a MARTA card for a full week of travel – we had to get around to several places, so this seemed to make the most sense. On day six I was headed back to the airport and realized I wouldn’t need my card anymore – and so my RAK was born. My thought process was that I would find someone who was needing to buy a card and just give them mine. They could have two free days of travel, and since I was giving it to somebody that was exiting the airport, I imagined most people would be needing one. Even if they didn’t need the two free days of travel, just having the card would save them $1.
I walked up to a mother who was with her two sons trying to buy their cards. I offered her mine and she looked at me like I was crazy! She said no thank you and gave me the sideways “please don’t keep talking to me” glance.
Attempt number two. I saw a woman with a visual impairment and a service dog and tried to ask her if she would like my card. Either she didn’t hear me or chose to ignore me after my awkward exchange with the mother standing next to her.
Fail number two.
Attempt number three (yes, at this point I’m about ready to move on and figure something else out). A young-ish woman who is about it buy her card. I approach her and explain to her that I’m leaving and will no longer need my card, with its two days of travel left, and that at the very least if she’d like it she can save a dollar. She looked at my funny (are you sensing a theme, here?), but then took the proffered card. She then went on to offer my $5! I declined, explaining that I didn’t need the card and just wanted somebody else to get some use out of it, and walked into the airport.
It felt great to complete my RAK, but I have to admit, I was mildly (although less so, in hindsight) surprised at how hard it was to get someone to accept my gesture. I don’t think I look like a crazy lady, but does that mean it’s really that difficult to offer or accept kindness?
Jason – My first attempt was a fail. Second attempt was volunteering to pump fuel for a lady while at a convenience store. At first she did not know what to think – I might have been trying to commit some nefarious act. She allowed. She shared that she is a widow and her husband used to always pump the fuel. She thanked me and we parted ways.
3. We both mentioned our children as we went back and forth in our pursuit to complete our random acts of kindness – what role do they play in how you think about RAKs?
Leslie: When I was pregnant with my middle son (in 2007-2008) I remember sitting on the floor crying over something going on in Pakistan and being distraught over the idea that the world was going to end before I even had my baby. Pregnancy hormones? Maybe… 😉 But that has always stuck with me. I want my children to grow up in a world that is GOOD. Sure, I want them to be as safe and secure as the next person (STRANGER DANGER), but the kindness of strangers has helped me out of more than one tough situation in my lifetime! We need more good. That’s what I want to model for my children. My friend Erin Olson (@eolsonteacher) always says, “People want to be inspired” – well Tamara Letter inspired me, and I want to inspire more good in the world!
Jason: My children need to learn the same as I did – be kind to others
4. Moving forward
A RAK, for this purpose, was something that I chose to look at as a mission. How can I complete a RAK? But it also changed my outlook on my world. How can I make a conscious effort to put more kindness out into the world on a daily basis? I seem to fail at RAKs more than I succeed, but whether or not the individuals accept my gesture, more and more often people seem to appreciate the offer of kindness, and that in itself has value to me. Let’s inspire more KINDESS and GOOD in the world!
The power of the story is what inspired us to get involved in doing Random Acts of Kindness – we’d love for you to share your story, too!