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Our world is filled with a diversity of people from different backgrounds, belief systems and distinctive ways of being. Thus, our values, beliefs and worldview very much impact and are impacted by even our smallest daily interactions. We’re being invited now to step into more ambitious roles of support and care for others.

As we experience life in a shared community, often we are witnesses to acts of harshness such as verbal insults, or physical or psychological exploitation. We are also fortunate to observe and participate in acts of kindness such as service toward others. Here at UST, acts of kindness abound within both large community efforts and small initiatives.

Nairobi, Kenya: Nursing students Jazmin Valdez, Abby Ringen and Victoria Ramos with members of the Maasai Mara Tribe

Nairobi, Kenya: Nursing students Jazmin Valdez, Abby Ringen and Victoria Ramos with members of the Maasai Mara Tribe

In summer 2019, Campus Minister Max Linnville took five UST students to Laredo, Texas, alongside Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston, to offer services to refugees arriving in the United States. Student efforts included conducting intakes, providing clothing and helping refugees locate family members who are U.S. residents and with whom they can stay while going through the asylum process.

Also in summer 2019, Dr. Lucindra Campbell-Law, of the Peavy School of Nursing, took three UST students to Nairobi, Kenya, to support Bethel’s Global Reach for patients in need. UST nursing students offered health care to patients with parasitic infections, diabetes and malnutrition. Despite language barriers, even simple nonverbal expressions such as a pat on the back or holding someone’s hand during a medical procedure were comforting and demonstrated that kindness can be extended in acts both big and small.

Laredo, Texas: (L to R) Max Linnville, Yamile Tellez, Antonio Mata, Vanessa Phung, Lauren Reed, Joseph Nemec

Laredo, Texas: (L to R) Max Linnville, Yamile Tellez, Antonio Mata, Vanessa Phung, Lauren Reed, Joseph Nemec

Freshman Symposium, led by Dr. Jo Meier-Marquis and a group of faculty, staff and student mentors, offers first-year students a service learning opportunity through which they become involved in outreach efforts within the greater Houston area.

UST’s new Director of Campus Ministry, Nicole Labadie, brings with her a history of service and the intention to maximize student involvement in service initiatives. An example is their work with Angela House where students prepare meals and build relationships with formerly incarcerated women transitioning back into independent living.

As our University community goes through a process of restructuring and the community’s inspiring Call Toward Tomorrow, we are invited now to step into more ambitious roles of support and care for others and for ourselves. Some may wish to become more involved in large change initiatives. Others can convey acts of kindness through simple gestures such as being open and nonjudgmental, offering acceptance and positive regard, being a mediator or facilitator, offering a smile or helping hand, sharing a modest compliment or suggesting creative ideas for future directions.

At UST, there is no shortage of opportunities for kindness and care, for service and lovingkindness. St. Basil once said, “A tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” May our UST community continue to be blessed with the gifts of courtesy and kindness, and with the ever-growing promise of friendship and love!

About the Author — Dr. Nevine Sultan, PhD, NCC, LPC

Nevine Sultan is Assistant Professor of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of St. Thomas – Houston. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice, specializing in complex trauma, dissociative disorders, and grief. Dr. Sultan is passionate about the relationally shared experience between researcher and co-researchers, instructor and student, and therapist and client, and the impact of embodiment and somatic awareness on empathic presence.

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