Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrates caring and acts of kindness. One way is by celebrating the UCA Scholarship winners! Throughout the years we have held many scholarship contests, and are constantly in awe about how caring students are, and what new and innovative ways they bring caring into our communities. We have been blogging about various themes that have arisen in the recent submissions for the Fall 2019 scholarship contest. Many of the submissions had awareness and empathy in common. Below are some caring quotes from the essays and a scholarship essay that displays the unique skills that these caring ambassadors have!
Grace E Shay
“Since I can remember, my mom would recite this mantra to me. She would reference these “secret battles,” when young me was quick to judge another. No matter how many times she recited these words, I didn’t fully understand.
How could someone endure hardship and not wear it on their sleeve? Surely, not everyone can be fighting a battle. I knew a girl at school who was so stereotypically perfect. I had never seen her work for anything. I was sure that she was not fighting any battles. And if this example existed within my range, surely there were more.
So my mind continued on with this thought. I lived in a picture perfect world, I was naive and free of hardship. I selfishly assumed that everyone was the same. I never stopped to consider that there may be more than meets the eye.
One day, the meaning of my mother’s words set in. They didn’t seep in like water. It wasn’t slow and gradual. It was a flood. One day, my mom’s words were engraved into my skin, like a burn left from an open flame. To this day, I have the scar from that burn.
The day it all clicked for me was the day I began fighting a secret battle of my own: one no one knew about.
I was diagnosed with an invisible illness, Type One Diabetes. The disease is relentless. From multiple injections a day, to waking up nightly for low blood sugars, to cutting my favorite foods out of my diet, to seizures and the stigma that surrounds the illness. It was hell and the hell was invisible.
As much as I hate my diagnosis, I know I’m not alone. Sure, I am the only diabetic on my team or at school, but I am not alone. Because everyone is fighting a secret battle. No one is truly alone, our battles may be vastly different. The girl I thought was perfect may not have the most stable home life. Another student may have parents that only see them as a GPA. Another student may not have parents at all.
However vastly different they are, our battles unite us. They create our collective humanity. If we take this “perceived empathy” and apply it to every situation, the world will become a much more caring place.
What if instead of getting annoyed at the lady taking forever in the grocery store checkout line, we considered her perspective? Maybe she has severe social anxiety, and this is a stretch for her? What if she just got a phone call about her dad and is struggling to not break down? You don’t know. Don’t judge. Instead, understand that she may be fighting a secret battle you know nothing about.
I know that when you first read the phrase, “secret battle,” the first that came to your mind was your own. Everyone has had that unique experience. Empathy is learned like wisdom. It can be obtained through conscious effort. That effort, that will leave the world caring and united.”
“In a world of instant gratification and social media it is easy to find yourself isolated from others. Many people believe that young people in this world are not going to be successful because we have so much at our fingertips, yet we do not know how to carry on a face to face conversation. Today’s society is full of people who genuinely care for others, however they go unseen because of all the violence in today’s world. To make the world a more caring place people must start small and then branch out. If I were to change one thing in the world I would be more open to people and to be more caring myself.
Lets face it. However nice it may seem to say, “Oh we can fix the world and make it more caring by [insert colossal change of the world here]”, it is naive and almost impossible. To really change our society to become a more inviting, caring place we need to start small. Even just going through your day and smiling at someone makes a difference because even such a small gesture is sometimes rare in society today. It’s not to say that trying to make the world a more caring place by making a big splash is necessarily a bad thing, but it is more feasible to do small things every day. When people open up even a little, it means they feel safe around that person they shared with. If said person is unresponsive or rude to them, that person will probably never open up to another person. When this happens, the world becomes a more boxed in and closed off than ever. As humans, we are social creatures, but if there is no trust between people, the society will not care about others. A way to remedy this problem is to be someone that people trust and to be attentive to their needs whether it be just listening or giving advice.
Although being a more caring person can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary step in peruste of a more caring world. Often people think “It is so hard to be caring to this person because they have done x, y, or z.” This is exactly the reason to be nice to them because maybe they had a rough day or they just got the bad news that someone close to them died, in essence you have no idea what they are going through and if you are rude just because they were mean to you just perpetuates the cycle of anger and pain. If just one person were to be nice to the person who is mean it may make the difference between life and death. Being the bigger person is always hard because it is human nature to get mad when someone messes with you but it is a necessary step in making the world a better place.
In order to make the world a more caring place, I want to be a light in darkness, to be a smiling face in the crowd and be someone that people feel comfortable to talk with. By striving every day to do a little better than the day before, people can easily make a difference in society and the world.”
“In today’s world, it’s easy to become cynical. Every day on the news and online, we learn about the horrible things people are doing. As we see this more and more, it becomes ingrained, even subconsciously. Many of us start to distrust people as a whole. The very concept of “stranger danger” reflects this. Children are taught from a very young age that strangers aren’t to be trusted.
Public transportation is an excellent example of how deeply ingrained the wariness of strangers is. On subways and buses, striking up a conversation with a stranger is something that rarely happens. People sit as far away as they can from everyone else. In crowds, whether on a subway or at a concert, people are taught to keep an eye on their pockets and valuables.
But the reality is that the chance of being robbed in that way is extremely low. That chance is what scares people though, and it’s what leads us to distrust strangers. But the vast majority of people are perfectly kind. If they’re not willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, most of them will politely decline. It’s commonplace to hold the door open for strangers, so why aren’t greater things accepted? Something as simple as offering to buy a stranger their morning coffee is looked at askance. People start to expect you want something in return. If someone’s card gets declined at a grocery store and you offer to pay for their $15 of groceries, other people think it’s some sort of scam. Can we not trust other people to be kind because they want to brighten someone’s day?
These sorts of issues are just the expression of the much deeper problem in society: the problem of distrust. There are many factors, everything from the modern connected world to the way children are raised. News sources gain money through watch time and clicks. The best way to get those things? Headlines that scare you into paying attention. Headlines about good or ordinary things don’t captivate our attention the same way.
We can’t change it overnight, but we can do small things now. Pay-it-forward lines in drive-throughs can last for hundreds of cars. Although each person is going to be paying a similar amount, just the thought that a stranger was willing to make their day better is huge. One small act of kindness can, at the very least, make someone’s day less bad, and can even go as far as saving a life.
Every action we take to support one another, however small, reminds us that individuals aren’t the same as the society they seem to make up. They’re better than what we’re led to believe. If we trust in other people, and believe that the vast majority of people will act kindly, we can help each other realize that people are worth believing in. By believing in and supporting one another, we can spread kindness and compassion, and small actions can spread further than we know.”
These amazing students help bring more empathy and awareness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education by awarding them with a scholarship. We have more themes to celebrate in upcoming blogs, such as self-love, that we are looking forward to sharing. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) offers scholarship opportunities throughout the year. Each scholarship essay submission that comes to us during our contests fills us with joy. There are so many caring students who share their ideas for a better world. Or how they have helped others in the past, even sharing their life stories. These stories have shaped them into caring ambassadors that go out into communities and spread kindness to all they meet. There seem to always be themes that pop up when we read the essays submitted. One strong theme that we found is that of equality. Below are some pearls of wisdom and caring essays that reflect the theme of equality.
Jennifer Watt has a fantastic pearl of wisdom. Equality between others is not just one part of creating a more caring world. Sometimes equality isn’t the only thing. She goes beyond equality to promote helping others who are struggling.
“If I could change the world to make it a more caring place, I would change how everyone, especially children are educated about diversity. I believe that if we started educating kids at a younger age about accepting diversity, and continue to educate them through the rest of their lives, we could make people more comfortable with themselves, as well as others and change a lot of the problems people suffer with now, especially bullying. I know that this would not end all problems in the world, but I also know that children are our future and if they were raised to believe that there is nothing wrong with being different, they would be less likely to be uncomfortable with differences. They would also be more accepting of themselves and know that it is okay if they are different.
I know how important this is. I was born with a birth defect called symbrachydactyly, which means that I have three fingers on my left hand. Ever since I was little I have always loved my hand. In preschool, I showed it off for show and tell because I thought it was so cool. At that time in my life, I didn’t really care about other people’s comments or how they treated me, but as I have grown older it has become a little harder to brush them off. However, I was raised with the knowledge that I look different, but I am still beautiful. That knowledge has helped me remain confident in myself throughout my entire life.
I think giving people more education and allowing them to become more comfortable with diversity would really change how we see each other. That is the best way I have found to get people comfortable around my hand is by educating them about it but at the same time making them more comfortable. Whenever people notice and ask me what happened to my hand I usually make up an exaggerated story. Something so unbelievable that they, usually, realize that I’m joking. Then they relax and become visibly more comfortable. After that, we can talk pretty freely, and they feel comfortable asking me questions. That’s what I want for the world, for people to feel comfortable to discuss and accept someone else’s differences.
When we accept each other’s differences we can make a major impact on the world. We become kinder and more understanding. With this attitude, we could end bullying because no difference would be seen as bad. Everyone would be accepting and there would be no need to make fun of someone because they were different, because in the end everyone is different and thus we would accept each other.
I believe that educating others about diversity would impact how we see ourselves and our differences and could help increase our self-esteem. It could also impact how we treat other people when they are different from us. We could also stop bullying. If we learn to accept other people’s differences we could change the world and make it a more caring place.”
“If I could change one thing to make the world a more caring place, I would choose to make our society more accepting. This would allow us to have more open minds, leading us to be more caring individuals, and thus making the world a more caring place.
During my Junior year in high school, my school experienced an issue with a group of students yelling insensitive, racist, and homophobic slanders at our opponents during a… basketball game. A local newspaper wrote articles about the incident, and it led us to a discussion about our schools’ character and tolerance of others. As a community, we responded to the situation by focusing on healing and encouraging tolerance, notably for people that may be different than us. As a part of my school’s Athletic Leadership Council, I worked with the Dean of Discipline/Vice Principal and the Athletic Director to help remedy those students’ actions. The school administration reprimanded the students, taught us about acceptance, and encouraged many discussions, but most importantly, they showed us another point of view besides our own. My school handled the event very well, but this experience also opened my eyes to a much bigger issue: a lack of acceptance for differences. And this lack of acceptance does not only exist in small bubbles like my high school – it is very prominent across the United States, and even throughout the world.
People tend to fixate on and criticize what separates them. Because of this, they often get caught up in those differences and cannot recognize that arguing about such differences creates a more hostile world. For example, in today’s political climate, differences between political parties prevent people from having an open mind, especially regarding controversial topics like gun control, abortion rights, and the climate crisis. Two people from opposite ends of the political spectrum will not try to empathize with the other’s perspective, which can lead to rude, ignorant, and obscene misunderstandings of those differences. And, often times, people will immediately seek to label those around them as “ally” or “enemy,” further creating an uncaring world in which people are divided. Rather than seeing differences as an impossible obstacle to overcome, we should praise, accept, and celebrate our differences, because differences are what makes us all unique and drives the world forward.
Teaching acceptance would help foster a more caring world. In order to do this, we must first encourage empathy. If we do not take a moment to step back and consider another point of view, we will not be able to understand (and therefore accept) someone for who they are. Parents, teachers, and other role models can encourage empathy by teaching children from a young age the importance of listening to and caring for another person’s feelings. Although empathy can become harder to practice as children grow up and life becomes more complicated, they will have a solid empathetic foundation that they can always refer back to. And, as a result, these empathetic, accepting adults can help to teach the next generation the same caring nature, continuing to make the world a more caring place in doing so.
Teaching one another about our differences and having empathy for each other would help ensure that there will be less misunderstandings and less negative feelings towards each other. Having these empathetic learning experiences – not arguments – is the first step to creating acceptance, and an even bigger step to creating a more caring world.”
What an amazing group of students! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education. Equality is just one theme these caring students wrote about. There are many other themes other than equality that we will be blogging about, such as stopping bullying and empathy. We look forward to sharing more with our caring community. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!
Thomas S. Monson is often quoted saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We have come across a wonderful interpretation of this by One Tree Planted. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization focusing on global reforestation. This is something to celebrate as others are spreading C.A.R.E. around the world! Trees are important for so much in the world. Trees help filter water to make it drinkable. They clean the air to make it more breathable for us. And trees provide habitats for 80% or more of land-living creatures. If we go beyond the natural caring that trees provide us, we find that they go further. In the book The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein shares that trees provide jobs for billions of people, as well as medicines that help us care for those we care about and ourselves.
Who is One Tree Planted?
One Tree Panted is making it easier for businesses and people around the world to “…give back to the environment, fight climate change, protect biodiversity and help reforestation efforts around the world.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us) This charity began in 2014 and is going strong to this day. Through their efforts the amount of trees planted each year has grown 50% or more! Currently One Tree Planted works with amazing reforestation partners in North and South America, Africa, and Asia who help rebuild forests after natural disasters literally from the ground up! These forests not only restore the natural beauty of the regions they are in, but help create jobs and communities.
“We pool the donations for each project and send the funds to our reforestation partners. We vet our partners to ensure that we maintain a tree survival rate of 80-90%.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/about-us) A big part of why this organization has a huge success rate is due to their careful monitoring of the plants after planting. This works well with their strategy and planning before planting the trees. Below is a chart from the One Tree Planted website explaining a breakdown of their successful strategy.
The process One Tree Planted uses for reforestation is unique and interesting. Those that One Tree Planted partners with choose the most appropriate tree species to plant that works with the local community and environment. Planting begins during the rainy season when the soil is easier to dig up and allows for the newly planted tree to have the best chances of success after it is planted in the ground. Upon completion, they send out a highlights report that reflects the impact of the trees and has pictures of the projects’ success!
Trees are Important for Six Reasons
One Tree Planted has six pillars that outlines why they do what they do. These six pillars are: air, water, biodiversity, social impact, health and climate. Take a look at these short descriptions to expand upon each of the six reasons.
Trees are like nature’s scrubbing bubbles or vacuum cleaners. “Through their leaves and bark, they suck up harmful pollutants and release clean oxygen for us to breathe.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We can see this embraced in urban environments with the implementation of curbside rain gardens and parks. Trees absorb gases like nitrogen oxides, ozone, and carbon monoxide, and other pollutants such as smoke and dust which helps us all breath a little bit better!
Have you ever seen pictures or hiked through a redwood forest in the early morning and seen the fog being captured under the little green cupped needles? This is a great example of how trees play a big and important role in capturing water in the atmosphere. The second role that trees play in nature is below the ground where their roots help by anchoring the soil and rocks, reducing the frequency and risks of natural disasters. Much like above the ground the often intricate root systems filter out pollutants in the ground. “According to the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations, a mature evergreen tree can intercept more than 15,000 litres of water every year.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/)
Each tree young to old can be a home to dozens upon dozens of insects, fungi, animals, and other plants. For example in North American Young, Open Forests we can see animals like a hopefully napping black bears and chirping birds like the American goldfinch, and bluebirds calling these trees home. In Middle-Aged Forests we see taller trees that outgrow less substantial vegetation. This allows for an open canopy and the growth of different plants that are lower to the ground. It is in thee forests that we see animals like the salamander and tree frogs as well as the mighty elk. Lastly we have Older Forests. These have substantial and large trees, complex canopies, and a highly developed levels of vegetation. Old forests provide habitat for a wide and diverse array of animals. We might see bats at night flying around eating bugs, squirrels during the day gathering and storing food for the cold months, and so on. Next time you go on a walk in nature you might just notice something about the biodiversity in your local forest!
Trees are more than just homes to the local flora and fauna. They provide jobs for us people too! “…Sustainable tree farming provides timber to build homes and shelter, and wood to burn for cooking and heating. Food-producing trees provide fruit, nuts, berries, and leaves for consumption by both humans and animals, and guarantee health and nutrition.” (https://onetreeplanted.org/) We bet that you can come up with more than a few ways that trees impact you life. Just think about apples, pinecones, and paper products; they all come from trees!
We review a lot of caring research and information. During this time we have found that people recovering from illness bounce back faster when they see greenery like trees. Getting grounded in nature gives you a sense of calm, helps reduce stress and anxiety, and improves thinking clarity. Additionally, walking in a shady forest provides skin protection for harsh UV rays and nasty sunburns.
Lastly, but certainly not least, trees help the planet stay cool by eliminating nasty greenhouse gases and pollutants. They do this by storing these toxins in their trunks, branches and leaves. An additional bonus is that this process is coupled with the releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. There’s an increase in architects designing cities to have trees and forests included, much like Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy. When cities are designed with forests in mind the overall temperature is often reduced by up to 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 degrees Fahrenheit). “With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities—a number expected to increase to 66% by the year 2050—pollution and overheating are becoming a real threat. Fortunately, a mature tree can absorb an average of 48 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, making cities a healthier, safer place to live.“ (https://onetreeplanted.org/) This is something we can give three cheers to! We can relate to the desire to live comfortably with lasting health benefits!
Thank you to One Tree Planted for all of your efforts and contributions to the reforestation of our planet! We at Unified Caring Association love what you are doing, and celebrate your caring actions!
Unified Caring Association (UCA) loves helping people of all ages. We see this each year Unified Caring Association holds scholarship contests to help college bound students. This year for one of the scholarships we asked high school juniors and seniors to write short essays responding to the question, “If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?” We received hundreds of applicants and noticed a trend in some of the responses. Many scholarship award winners targeted the use of social media.
These impressive teenagers want to help make the world a better and more caring place by limiting social media exposure. Their common drive is to help prevent the spread of negativity and cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is similar to bullying seen outside of social networks. When we Google search the word ‘cyberbullying’ the definition is, “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.”
Not all online pictures and interactions are negative. There are a fair amount of positive and caring posts online. It is as Cameron M Russell states at the beginning of his essay, “The portrait social media paints of the world can be a beautiful and elegant painting or could be a gruesome and unjust picture…” And this is echoed by Eva McCauley when she states that “… it gives zero insight to how someone’s life actually is.” When there is a disconnect from reality, which we see through the facade of social media and the lack of interaction with people and peers, there is a delay in mental and emotional development that allows for a person to treat others with compassion. Many of the essays submitted also give a remedy for this: true face-to-face connection over digital interaction. “Social media affects one’s identity and empathize (sic) face to face interaction” (Adamaris Cruz Santiago), this is a way we can share our own authenticity.
In recognising the authenticity of others as well as our own we begin to see others as human. We will begin sharing human experiences. We believe that Isabella Peluso says this in a wonderful way. This movement “…would allow the world to be a more caring place through people connecting more in the real world and catalyzing a shift towards change instead of just acknowledging that it needs to happen.” In this positive and caring shift we would see people promoting and celebrating kindness, and caring in all forms of communication. We would also see an increase in celebrating diversity. Kassandra Ruiz mirrors this in her essay. She states, “This is why I believe that if we teach students different cultural traditions and morals, they will understand that everyone is unique and that they must accept each other in order to become successful.”
Acceptance of everyone’s individuality is a key to making the world a better, more caring place. And this shows why acceptance is so important. Through this we will all become more successful and happier people. This is achieved through caring acts and words, personal interactions, and supporting and celebrating diversity. With all of these in mind, things like cyberbullying will be reduced or even eliminated. What a wonderful world we can make! And this quote from the last part of Cameron M Russell’s essay exemplifies how was this caring consciousness can be, “…every step I take and every post I’ll make is to feed my positive energy to the world and my job as a human is to take care of my home and the humans on it.”