I hate to admit it, but I’m a pretty judgmental person. I like to believe that I am open-minded and that I like to give people a chance, but most of the time, I don’t. You know those Free Hugs people in Marsh Plaza? Yeah, I always pretend to get a phone call when I pass them. I think this column is going to help me get over this.
There is a line of exuberant people holding signs that say “Free Hugs” on Fridays in Marsh. Every time I’ve seen them, I sort of put my head down and truck on. “Oh, hi Mom! No, I’m good. How’re you?” I’m actually jamming to “Wrecking Ball” instead of talking to Mama Douglas.
Why would I want to hug a stranger? And they always look so freaking HAPPY. I tend to have an aversion to overly enthusiastic people. To get over my fear of the friendlies, I decided to dedicate this week’s column to one of their members, Tehya Saylor, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
Tehya is a philosophy major, which I think totally fits her actions. I also learned that the “Free Hug Kids” are members of a club called I Embrace You.
“The goal of our club is to promote peace and community throughout the BU Community and Boston,” Tehya said.
Apparently they also do Random Acts of Kindness (RAC). You might have seen the notes written on the mirrors in Mugar Memorial Library with Expo Markers. That was a RAC. Or what about the kind messages written in chalk on the Esplanade? That was one too.
Something that they did last year, my personal favorite, was their paper sun project. They made them “when it was really snowy and gloomy,” so the suns would add some sunshine to all of the classrooms. These kids are so thoughtful and willing to help everyone out. I can definitely learn a thing or two from them.
I asked Tehya if there was anything particularly funny about giving out free hugs. She said most people just walk by and look at them like they’re weird (guilty). Some are super excited and say that it makes their days. Some just walk by smiling. Tehya is just glad if she can make someone’s day brighter. Maybe I’ll start with that. I can’t imagine hugging a bunch of strangers, but if Tehya can do it, what’s stopping me?
One story that is apparently famous among the group members is about a kid who came and stood at the end of their line with a sign that read, “Premium hugs $2.” Tehya and I both laugh about that. It’s that kind of reaction that makes me realize that she is a genuinely happy person. She doesn’t care if people are laughing at her because, hey, then they’re smiling! I’m going to try to be more like Tehya, I think everyone else should try, too. Here’s to a week of happiness.
Check back next week when I talk to another one of BU’s familiar faces. Have a person you think BU should know about? Hit me up!
Jemma Douglas is a sophomore in the College of Communication studying Journalism. She can be reached at email@example.com.