Connecting Through


Rachel Lee

Research Questions

1. How can kindness be defined and what does it look like through
words, actions, and emotions?

2. What motivates someone to be kind to others?

3. What is the impact of giving, receiving, and/or observing kindness?


Connie Hwang, SJSU Graphic Design Professor
Primary Advisor

Chang Kim, SJSU Graphic Design Professor
Secondary Advisor

Nancy Stewart, Senior Director, Annual Giving and Special Gifts
Tertiary Advisor


From his TV program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001), Fred Rogers taught children through his songs and puppets that they are worthy, they have value, and the color of their skin is meaningless when it comes to having value and being a worthy person. He also taught people throughout his lifetime that “‘no matter how miniscule your job may be, you can contribute and be part of something that is larger than yourself’”, as learned by Patrick Donahue, a family friend and intern at Mister Rogers’ show. Donahue recalled that “kindness was the culture on set”.

Ellen DeGeneres, of The Ellen DeGeneres Show (2003– ), received the Carol Burnett Award at the 77th Golden Globe Awards on January 5, 2020. She is an example of being resilient, giving back, being kind to others, and making light of situations through humor. She demonstrates that everyone has a voice as well and can make a difference.

Life can be more meaningful and purposeful when someone lives through kindness—for themselves, the people around them, and the world. We do not know what people are going through and it is important to be kind because we all are living our own story and are connected. “...the greatest reward of being kind is precisely being kind.”

I will tell stories of unique or ordinary moments where people choose to be kind. I will explore factors that motivate people to live with kindness or to perform an act of kindness and its impact. Words, actions, and emotions on the giving, receiving, and onlooking perspectives will be explored. I hope to inspire and encourage more people to choose kindness every day.


I surveyed my friends on Facebook, the BFA Juniors and Seniors, Instagram followers, and friends of friends. I set up a Google Form where users would share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences with kindness. I collected their information and made it an option if I could include their name and story. I received a total of twenty responses and was excited to discover how kindness has been impacting people’s lives.

Survey Question Highlights

1. Rate how much you agree or disagree with the following statement: The world needs more kindness today.
80% strongly agree, 20% agree

2. Rate how much you agree or disagree with the following statement:
Being kind to others is important to me.
75% strongly agree, 25% agree

3. Rate how much you agree or disagree with the following statement:
I choose to live with kindness each day.
40% strongly agree, 50% agree,
25% neutral

4. Are there people in your life that live with kindness?

5. Tell me about a time when someone did something kind for you. How did you react?

6. Tell me about a time when you did something kind for someone else. Why did you choose to be kind and how did it make you feel?

Giving: Cards, Time, Love

My family has always shown love through giving. We give cards for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day–and sometimes just because. It shows our appreciation—that we took the time to handwrite (or type) a thoughtful message and drop it in the mail. My Grandma Jane would always draw bunnies, lambs, and trees on her envelopes. My mom loves to draw on envelopes too. My Grandma Pearl enjoys making cards by hand and gifting them. In addition to cards, my grandparents, family, and I were involved in our communities—through Kiwanis, Circle K, Girl Scouts, and other neighborhood activities. I knew that I wanted to bring my love for giving to others into my thesis project. I knew that I wanted to pass on positivity, so I reflected on my own experiences and looked in the news and social media for stories to help guide my project.

How can you participate?

1. Select a Kindness Card at

2. Choose your recipient: You can pass the card on to a friend, family member, colleague, professor, neighbor, or stranger.

3. Personalize your card: Add a message and/or drawing.

4. Send or deliver your card: Hand-deliver your card or address the postcard and add a stamp with your recipient’s address. You may also download the design as an image and text it!

5. Share the card’s journey: If you hand-deliver the card, take a photo! If you’re sending your card through the mail, ask the recipient to take a photo!

6. Share on Instagram with #kindcardsconnect.


We are seeing stories of kindness, even more, each day. At the mid-point of my project, and with the sudden spread and impact of COVID-19, I witnessed communities coming together and finding ways to help doctors, business owners, grocery store shoppers, and those affected. We are socially distancing and connecting through kindness online. The stories I collected from my survey demonstrated the wide-range of what kindness is, and seeing stories in the news is evidence of how people stop to think about how a small act of kindness can have a big impact—large or small. I was happy to see Hallmark give away 2 million free cards so that people can spread kindness to friends and family that we cannot see in person.

It was my goal with my project to make people feel inspired to be kind to those that we interact within our daily lives. I hope that my Kindness Cards give a little reminder and encourage people to appreciate and be kind to others because we are all connected through kindness.

Kindness has been a part of my life since I was a kid—through Girl Scouts, volunteering, in my communities, and my family. It is my dream that I can carry kindness and positivity with me through future design projects, both personal and professional.

Select a Kindness Card Set, print it out for free, and send it in the mail. You may also send them digitally.

to send your postcards!

Thank you!

I would like to thank my professors, advisors, colleagues, and survey participants. Thank you, professors, advisors, and colleagues for your insightful feedback along the way. You helped me kickstart my project and gave me new perspectives to progress.

Thank you to my colleagues who also provided great feedback for my project. I have enjoyed learning and working alongside each and every one of you during our time in the BFA and I am excited to see what the future has in store for us all. I am proud of you all!

A huge thank you to everyone that shared stories about kindness—I was so touched and inspired to learn about all of the positive and uplifting acts that happen around the world and it was an honor to illustrate them.

Thank you to everyone that chooses to send a postcard—you are making someone's day a little brighter, and spreading positivity in the world.