Intern Blog: A Change of Heart

From kindergarten through senior year of high school, I was learning and discovering who I was as an individual. Attending college in the “mainland” taught me a lot about discovering culture, and how culture can affect who I am and become. Growing up in a Hawaiian cultured lifestyle, I have experienced my fair share of those who knew nothing of ‘aloha’ while living in the mainland.

“What is Aloha?” defines this word as a greeting or parting, or a friendly, welcoming or hospitable gesture – which in fact, is true. Wikipedia defines it as meaning affection, peace, compassion and mercy – which in fact, is also true. However, sometimes people do not understand that this word is also used in reference to how one should live.

“Spread the Aloha”

Aloha means to be kind, to show compassion for others, always be willing to lend a helping hand, be mindful of one another’s feelings, take care of the island and each other, treat everyone with respect, do unto others as you would have them do unto you…. you get the idea. These three words explain a lot of the Hawaiian culture, which I have cherished so much more after moving to the mainland.

People will not always hold the door open for you, nor take the initiative to open it for you, thank you for letting them cut you while driving, or even have the decency of throwing their own trash away after eating. It blew my mind. At the time, I also didn’t understand that the culture here was different from what I was familiar with; everyone was not always as friendly and welcoming to one another. I too, began doing the same. I began to believe that being nice to people who didn’t reciprocate any form of kindness in response, no longer always deserved it either – which in fact, is selfish.

February 2015, I applied to intern at Think Kindness (TK) where their mission here is to inspire measurable acts of kindness in schools and communities around the world. The second time ever being at TK’s shoe storage unit, moving bags and bags of shoes, I took a look around and noticed that the stack was twice as high from the first time I had been there (which was only about a week ago). I stopped and thought, “if all these schools and children can go out and collect thousands of pairs of shoes for children they don’t even know, then why did I feel like what I was doing was right?”

Kindness matters, and Think Kindness has helped me to remember that “each act of kindness, no matter how small, has an unforeseeable ripple effect that makes the world a better place” – which in fact, is very true.


Kelsey Koyanagi is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno with an expected graduation date of May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Community Health Sciences. Kelsey chose to get involved with Think Kindness because of the organizations sole purpose of spreading kindness across the world. The organizations creative approach to decrease bullying in schools is something Kelsey wanted to contribute too. She wants to help in inspiring kind acts that will cause a rippling effect to make the world a better place, which is also TK’s mission.