Kindness offered is sometimes kindness returned.
More than 1,800 on- and off-campus students preparing for exams will be receiving postcards with personal messages from alumni, as Western delivers its third year of Kind Mail.
Alumni from 28 countries have offered words of encouragement and wisdom, and many have personalized the notes by addressing them to the same residence room where they once lived.
“We developed Kind Mail because we noticed alumni had a strong connection with their old residences and also remembered what exam time was like,” said Meghan Cocurullo, Digital Engagement Officer in the Department of Alumni Relations and Development. “We created Kind Mail to serve as a way for alumni to reconnect with their alma mater and send some cheer to students during exam season.”
And while the cards are being delivered to students this week, the impact has extended well beyond the holiday season.
In at least one case, it has boomeranged back to offer encouragement to the sender:
Vancouver lawyer Jeff Hernaez, BA’12 (Political Science, Criminology) sent a Kind Mail note last year for the successor of his Perth Hall room and was surprised to receive a recent LinkedIn message from a student who thanked him for the inspirational words.
“At the time, your position as an associate lawyer caught my eye (and) ever since then I have been taking law courses at Western,” the student wrote.
Hernaez posted the note to his Twitter feed and added, “Honestly made my day – after a long day of lawyer stuff.”
Also this year, a former Kind Mail recipient who is a new alumna became a Kind Mail sender, Cocurullo said.
Most messages arrived via email and were printed on postcards, while a London-based group of senior alumni and a group of Toronto alumni hand-wrote their personal messages during gatherings earlier this month.
The Kind Mail idea is picking up steam, as a valuable link between current students and alumni and as a growing social-media conversation, she said.
The initiative has won two awards, from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education and from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, national media have covered the initiative, and it’s gaining attention from other post-secondary institutions.
“Other schools are definitely following suit,” Cocurullo said.
By the numbers:
- 1,805 – postcards written and sent to students (up from about 1,400 in first two years)
- 28 – senders’ countries of origin (up from last year’s 17)
- 1,315 – postcards sent to students in residence
- 188 – postcards sent to students off-campus
- 197 – postcards sent to students at affiliate university colleges
- 105 – handwritten postcards from alumni