It is the little acts of kindness that make a lasting impression, especially in the places and moments when you least expect it. It is easy to get lost and confused in the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, and yet this does not deter people of Shanghai from continuing to perform genuine acts of kindness. 

We caught up with two NYU Shanghai students who, when asked about their heartwarming experiences with people in Shanghai, were instantly ready to share a story. 

For Audrey Sierends Devina, a rising sophomore, she will always remember the kindness of an 阿姨 (Āyí, auntie) she met at a Christian church in Xin Tian Di. Once, when Audrey was an hour late to church, she hesitated to attend the service but an 阿姨 pushed her to go in, telling her, “you have to go, you still have to go!” Touched by her persistence, Audrey brought the 阿姨 bread and a coffee the next week. Audrey was not able to attend church the week after, but upon attending the following week, the 阿姨 ran towards her asking why she had not come, and that she was looking for her. The 阿姨 told Audrey to find her the following week if she planned to come to church. So the next week, Audrey found her and was surprised to receive a gift from her!

Another touching act of kindness was shared by Tomiris Suleimenova, a rising sophomore. When Tomiris first arrived in Shanghai at the Hongqiao railway station at midnight, it took her 2 hours to find the 师傅 (shīfù) that would take her to the dorms. Tomiris was impressed and grateful for his patience, not only because he went out of his way to search for them for so long in the middle of the night but also because he bore through the language gap that made it hard to understand each other. Tomiris admits that if she was in his position, she would not have put up such a tolerance for picking up “random kids!” Moreover, the driver was willing to make a stop at a supermarket so that the other hungry people that Tomiris traveled with could pick up some food. Tomiris also stressed how patient the driver was when he helped them set up Alipay so that they could pay. As Tomiris recalls this heartwarming moment, she reflects back on coming to a new country for the first time, and how it can be a stressful experience for many people. This is why she was especially grateful for the driver, because “it was so nice to have this person around who can help you when you’ve come to an unknown environment.” 

From the multiple other stories that were shared by Tomiris, as well as Audrey and Tomiri’s quick recollection of their heartwarming experiences, it is clear that these moments of kindness are not rare. There is kindness in this world; it just depends on how you come to appreciate other people and their efforts.