photo by Ellie Cassidy
Rather than rushing through the school halls with his headphones in and eyes glued to his phone, Jimmy Tang makes sure to smile at his peers, lightening up the school day blues. Tang, sophomore, has impacted students through his various projects, created with a simple reason: to make others happy.
“It makes me really happy if I can add a little happiness to a person’s life. I know how much a compliment can mean to me, and I would love for others to feel [that way] too.”
With this idea in mind, Tang started “Tango Nation.” He desires to have a positive influence on people’s actions toward one another. Tang has specific plans in mind for where he wants his project to go, such as setting up an interactive project called “Pile of Smiles,” where people can write compliments commending others for kind things they did and place them in boxes around the school. Tang plans to have prizes and raffles for people who submit a positive note about someone else.
“Tango Nation is about making people smile and bringing the Kirkwood community together,” Tang said. “You never know how someone’s day is going, and even a tiny thing can make their day better.”
For one part of his project, which he called “Day of Kindness,” Tang brought boxes of cookies to school and handed them out to students who he noticed said or did something kind for another person. Leah Albers, sophomore, took part in Tang’s “Day of Kindness,” by complimenting a stranger in the school hallway. Albers, along with over 50 others, received a cookie from Tang after her act of kindness.
“I think the main message behind it was just to be nice to everyone, even if there aren’t cookies involved,” Albers said. “He definitely got people thinking [about how they treat others].”
Also, after being challenged by two upperclassmen, Tang made it a goal to take a selfie with every person at KHS by the end of the school year. He has been able to meet and connect with other students while fulfilling a challenge.
“I love meeting people and seeing how they react,” Tang said. “Most of the time, people think I have some weird intention. But a lot of people are also very kind [about it]. It has been enjoyable, with lots of laughs and awkward moments. I’ve always wanted to get to know everyone at our school, so that is a reward.”
So far, Tang has successfully carried out multiple activities promoting the spread of happiness. The initial idea behind these projects was inspired, among other things, by a specific event in his life.
“There was this one time when I was in Thailand about six years ago,” Tang said. “This young lady was begging on the street with her kid, and I noticed her worn-down clothes and the dirt smeared all over her. She looked really sad, so I went back and offered her some money. It was a moment where I realized life sucks sometimes, and every little bit counts.”
Around KHS, people have taken notice of Tang’s actions and all that he has done for the community. Emily Werner, math teacher, has had Tang in class for two years in a row. She has watched him take actions to uplift the community.
“Even in class, he is always spreading positivity and saying nice things to people,” Werner said. “He’s always out to make someone’s day and genuinely cares [about them]. I think everything he does is truly for a good cause.”