Teaching Everyday Kindness

Kindness

Ferial Mohamed Pearson has dedicated her life to kindness. “I smile at everyone I see, hold doors open,” she says. "I try to be fully present with everyone I meet. I ask how I can support those who are hurting, participate in activism and radical inclusion, and hopefully, model kindness for my own children.”

Ferial founded the organization Secret Kindness Agents Project in 2013. Now including a published book and a TEDx Talk, the project is the subject of her doctoral dissertation at University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she works as an instructor and instructional coach in the Teacher Education Department. Secret Kindness Agents has been implemented in over 400 K-12 schools across the United States and Canada. It focuses on students designing and performing a single, random, anonymous act of kindness each day. The program has been recognized by Hallmark, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, and The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance magazine.

I learned about the injustice and inequity that exist ... and I was moved to become part of the solutions instead of contributing to the problems.

Of course the idea of being kind already existed at Ferial's core, but attending Gustavus and having a chance to directly impact change as a student leader opened up a whole new world to what social justice could look like. “My professors exposed me to different perspectives and used inquiry to help me think critically about those perspectives,” she says. “I learned about the injustice and inequity that exists here in the United States that I was unaware of growing up in Kenya, and I was moved to become part of the solutions instead of contributing to the problems. The Building Bridges Conference hosted by the Diversity Center was a big influence on me as a participant and then a leader when I became co-chair.”

After graduating from Gustavus with a degree in Communication Arts/Literature Teaching, Ferial taught in a public school in Omaha, Nebraska for 10 years. There she won many accolades for her work with students, including the National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s Educator of the Year Respect Award, and the Omaha Education Association Human Relations Award.

“It’s so important to me that everyone I meet feels respected, validated, and loved,” Ferial says. “I don’t believe that we have to accomplish anything big or be a leader to deserve to be seen as a worthy human being. My life will count if I’ve made someone feel better about themselves, and even more, if I can shine a light on the worth in people who have been dehumanized by society in order to make the world a better place for them.”

Ferial Mohamed Pearson - Founder of Secret Kindness Agents Project, Faculty, University of Nebraska Omaha
Teaching Everyday Kindness
Ferial Mohamed Pearson
Gustavus Class of 2001
Founder of Secret Kindness Agents Project, Faculty, University of Nebraska Omaha
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