Letters from the dorm: appreciating our daily unsung heroes and how to be one for others

Talise Tsai
Talise Tsai |

Latest Articles

SpaceX launch postponed due to weather, just 17 minutes before liftoff

I strongly believe in celebrating unrecognised heroes – the people who move mountains in your life but will never know the impact they made.

A couple of months ago, I went grocery shopping then caught the bus home. I had a gallon of milk in one hand, two full bags of food in another, and my shoulder bag, and was struggling to carry everything and hold the safety rail at the same time. The bus kept jolting and I remember counting the seconds in my head to try to calm myself down and not drop anything.

Five minutes in, I felt like my fingers were going numb. Just as I was going to give up and put the milk on the floor between my feet, an elderly lady sitting in front of me reached out and took the jug onto her lap.

This took me by surprise and I wanted to let her know how touched and grateful I was for that small act of kindness, but couldn’t get my message across to her as we didn’t speak the same language.

Even so, that one small event inspired me a lot. That week, I decided to finally bake treats for my friends to cheer them up during exam season – something I’d been wanting to do for a while but hadn’t made the time to do – and also found myself constantly thinking about how I could help make someone’s day better.

I never even got the woman’s name, but her decision to carry my milk jug passed positivity on to so many other people!

There are many other instances I can think of – like when bus drivers cheer up gloomy, rainy mornings with funny announcements, or an acquaintance makes a comment that makes you see things in a different light. I’ve realised that positivity and kindness are contagious.

One of the things that I have grown to admire about Canada, but initially dreaded, is how friendly and open people are. It’s not unusual for someone to comment on weather when you’re both in line for the bus, or start a conversation about something you’re both looking at.

At first this made me feel very uncomfortable and even suspicious, but I eventually realised that people just interact in different ways, and show and receive love differently. It may be a stretch to start a conversation with a stranger during rush hour in the MTR – but it’s not such a stretch to help a classmate pick up the books they dropped in the hallway, or offer to buy a meal for someone in need.

A simple smile or kind act could mean the world to a stranger. To all the unrecognised heroes of this world, your impact is more than you’ll ever know.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge