Sharing Gratitude, Spreading Kindness

Dear Tulane Community:

The fall weather has only just arrived here in New Orleans, but the season of gatherings and festivities is already upon us. I am thankful for many things during this time of year – but our extraordinary Tulane community is at the top of the list.

Research has repeatedly demonstrated the health benefits of a regular gratitude practice: a “thank you” each day really might keep the doctor away. We can support each other through challenges by taking the time to show our colleagues and peers how much they are valued – not just during these annual appreciation weeks, but on a daily basis. This is especially important at a moment like this, when so many in our community are impacted by tragic global events.

This week also happens to be World Kindness Week. It may be lesser known than the big-name holidays that follow, but a call for kindness strikes me as a perfect pairing with a focus on gratitude. When we take time to be thankful, we create space to be kind.

At Tulane we are impacting the world in big ways: through life-changing innovations, life-saving research breakthroughs, and life-altering initiatives that transform and uplift communities both locally and globally. Yet we can also fulfill our mission when we start with everyday acts of kindness that serve as building blocks of our caring culture.

Many faculty, staff, alumni and parents will be performing such acts of kindness next week, opening their homes to international students and others who are unable to travel home for the holiday. The first annual Thanksgiving Dinner Hosting Program, sponsored by the Office of International Students and Scholars, the Carolyn Barber-Pierre Center for Intercultural Life, and the Center for Academic Equity, is a natural event for our warm, relational community. Around holiday tables and over home-cooked food, Tulanians with different backgrounds and experiences will build lifelong bonds.

No matter how you celebrate or who you share your holiday meal with, I hope next week’s break from routine will allow you to rest and recharge before we wrap up the fall semester. I also hope you will reach out to fellow members of the Tulane community with kindness and gratitude. The bonds we share have never been more important.