An effective tool to fight unkindness: meeting someone completely different from you.
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Exploring the world helps you grow.

All images by Travel Noire.


Sure, finding yourself in a place you've never been and where you don't know the language is enough to push anyone's boundaries. But it's so much more than that.

Putting yourself in situations that open your eyes and your mind is essential to human development.

It shatters stereotypes.

Yep. It's one of the best ways to break them down.

Think of what the many contentious political debates that rage around us would be like if we learned to see past stereotypes and see people for who and what they are: human.

Well, you can go to Unlearning Your Bias 101 and learn how to really, truly see other people — or you can pack a bag and experience other people who are nothing like you. (Actually, some of us probably need both, but why don't we start with the more enjoyable approach first?)

[Learn] to feel connected to people, who are wholly unlike you, and the place they come from.

This isn't about observing other people and communities like a National Geographic photographer. This is about actually learning to feel connected to people, who are wholly unlike you, and the place they come from.

There's a big world out there full of things you've never even imagined.

I know it's easy to think that your city or even your country is the center of the world. (Looking at you, New York.) But guess what? It's not! Some realities just can't be fully understood without the physical experience. And really, truly grasping that might just make you a bit more concerned with and empathetic for issues that take place all around the world.

Some realities just can't be fully understood without the physical experience.

And while I'd like to think that posting pictures of victims of U.S. military policies is enough to inform your stance on defense, visiting another country might just change how you look at drones. Maybe hearing immigrant mothers on the news sharing their stories is enough to help you understand, but if a trip to beautiful Bolivia awakens your compassion and awareness, why not go?

Seeking out connections that span similarities really does matter.

It changes how you view yourself and the world around you. It changes what you believe is right, wrong, and possible. It changes your perspective forever.

And while that may sound a little hyperbolic, just listen to some people who have fallen in love with a company called Travel Noire over the past year. Travel Noire's goal is to make travel accessible to everyone and to connect a community of smart, savvy black travelers.

Their lives have been enriched in countless ways by taking a chance, meeting their fellow humans, and experiencing the kindness of the world around them.

Check it out:

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.