PAK away negativity, choose kindness instead

October 13, 2020

Vice+President+Katherine+Lai+%28left%29+as+well+as+Co-Presidents+Jeannette+Wang+%28front%29+and+Eesha+Palasamudrum+%28right%29+are+shown+preparing+Planned+Acts+of+Kindess+%28PAK%29+for+Club+Day+back+in+2019.+Although+they+started+PAK+in+middle+school%2C+the+three+have+returned+to+their+simple+mission+of+making+the+days+of+their+peers+a+little+brighter%2C+expanding+this+year+towards+helping+students+manage+their+mental+health.

Courtesy Eesha Palasamudrum

Vice President Katherine Lai (left) as well as Co-Presidents Jeannette Wang (front) and Eesha Palasamudrum (right) are shown preparing Planned Acts of Kindess (PAK) for Club Day back in 2019. Although they started PAK in middle school, the three have returned to their simple mission of making the days of their peers a little brighter, expanding this year towards helping students manage their mental health.

Middle school is quintessentially an awkward era. With a little bit of help, however, students can be guided to try and be more consciously kind to their community despite otherwise slipping into a more self-centered state. Luckily, a couple of years ago, today’s Planned Acts of Kindness (PAK) Co-Presidents Jeannette Wang and Eesha Palasamudrum were given that exact support.

During their time at Egan Junior High School, Jeannette and Eesha were inspired by their physical education teacher Can Huynh. Huynh emphasized kindness and empathy, encouraging students to apply that attitude in all parts of their lives, from teachers to fellow students to random people on the street. These lectures urged Jeannette and Eesha to try and improve the Egan community’s mindset as a whole with random acts of kindness.

With Huynh’s help, Jeannette and Eesha, along with three of their friends, began the original PAK. Arguably, their most memorable contribution to the campus came right at the end of their eighth grade year. Jeannette used her position as a teacher assistant to sneak into the teachers’ rooms and put a thank you note made by the PAK team into each teacher’s box, hopefully without anyone noticing.

“We saw the big impact of doing something so simple, just writing a thank you note, or receiving one,” Jeannette said. “It can really make your day better.”

When they entered Los Altos High School, the club disbanded, but not for long. Near the end of their freshman year, Jeannette and Eesha were inspired to revitalize the club when Jeannette realized the impact PAK had, not just on the community, but on her as well.

“I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I think I’m actually becoming a worse person,’” Jeannette said. “When you first start high school, there’s so much going on that it’s very easy to just think, ‘Okay, I’m just gonna get through today,’ and not worry about other people. Having PAK was a constant reminder to want to try to be a better person and improve yourself.”

When they first started the club last year, it was a smaller operation with a similar agenda to their time at Egan. Club members would sometimes hand out jars of compliments to others with the hope of brightening their day.

However, since quarantine started, holding the same in-person events has proved a little more difficult. Despite this challenge, Jeannette and Eesha are undeterred in their goal to spread kindness even through the smallest of ways.

“Part of being kind is just appreciating the little things — finding the beauty in everything — and then maybe taking that and showing it to someone else,” Eesha said. “I think you can find kindness anywhere in the world; you just have to look for it.”

This year, Eesha and Jeannette have shifted PAK’s mission to focus on mental health and self-care. For Eesha, self-care isn’t just about self-pampering or relaxing, but also re-evaluating how we treat ourselves.

“Sometimes it’s so hard to find that energy just to be kind to yourself, it’s too much to have to be kind to others as well,” Eesha said. “At some point, you need to learn to take care of yourself before you can take care of everyone around you.”

Due to the circumstances, PAK hopes to encourage interpersonal connections between students and help them maintain mental health this year, urging people to just be kind to themselves. They plan on organizing activities like mental health seminars and a program matching random students across LAHS to foster connection. Ultimately, when times get hard, especially during the pandemic, kindness is just the best option.

“Kindness is something positive, so no matter what you define as being kind, if you try to achieve that, it’s something that’s helping everyone,” Jeannette said.

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