By Catherine Raihall ‘21
“You can change the world by simply changing one life.”
Producer and author Leon Logothetis left the high school’s students with these simple words of wisdom at the Kindness Diaries Assembly on November 1, 2018.
Mr. Logothetis is the TV producer of the the inspiring Netflix series, The Kindness Diaries. While most prominently recognized for this show, he has also appeared as the host of the Amazing Adventures of a Nobody USA and has written five books about his experiences and life-changing journeys. A philanthropist and motivational speaker, Logothetis is an all-around advocate for his passion: kindness.
For Logothetis, it has never been about the publicity or recognition. To say that being kind is a valued moral in Logothetis’ life would be a massive understatement; for him, kindness is something deeply personal.
During the assembly, Logothetis greatly emphasized that if there was one thing he wanted students to take away from the assembly, it was the importance of “sharing your pain.” He went on to open up about his personal struggles with bullying. “For two years, I ate lunch alone in the library. Two years,” Logothetis told students in an effort to connect with them. Logothetis expressed a feeling that he suspects is universal in humans: loneliness. However, Logothetis’ story has a happy ending.
He described a question one student had asked him, “Would you like to come eat lunch with me and my friends?” After eating alone every day, Logothetis said a simple phrase uttered by one of his fellow classmates that changed everything. “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that kindness doesn’t change lives,” Logothetis said, “I would not be where I am today without kindness.”
This one moment in his youth instigated Logothetis’ deep appreciation and love for kindness that he continued to carry with him into his adult life. Feeling unfulfilled as a stockbroker, he decided to uproot his comfortable life to travel the world. With nothing but a vintage yellow motorcycle, Logothetis embarked on a journey around the globe, relying solely on random acts of kindness. His Netflix series documents his endeavors and conveys the power of kindness. He asked strangers whom he had met on the street for gas, food, and a place to stay for the night.
Throughout his adventure, Logothetis formed countless human connections and touched many lives. He told students about one man whom he approached to ask for a place to sleep. To Logothetis’ surprise and embarrassment, the man explained that he was homeless. Despite his circumstances, this man offered to share what little he had with Logothetis and said that he would protect Logothetis for the night. This man was one of the many who changed Logothetis’ life during his trip, and the two still remain in touch.
When asked if there was a common thread among the people who chose to help him, Logothetis responded with ease. “The common thread,” he said, “was that the people who said ‘yes’ had open hearts, and those who said no had either closed hearts, or were leaning towards negativity.” He continued by explaining that he, too, had a closed heart, but “that doesn’t mean closed-hearted people are bad people. It just means they aren’t connected to their hearts, that they aren’t connected to love.” Logothetis explained that he chooses to see the magic and the good in this world and makes it his mission to help others see it too.
Of the assembly, Junior Ethan Baram said, “I was motivated to be kind to others. I want to know more about his personal adventures and why he does what he does [his show and his travels].” While she thought the assembly was “a little cliche,” Junior Jenny Marmo enjoys watching Logothetis’ show and thinks that what he does “is admirable.”
Each student received a postcard after the assembly with the words “I helped someone feel less alone” written on the back. The postcards are a part of Logothetis’ crusade for kindness. He wants each student to write one act of kindness he or she performed since his assembly and mail the pre-addressed postcard to his office in California. For each postcard he receives, Logothetis will purchase a book for children who do not have access to educational resources.
After the assembly, Logothetis met with a group of high school students, administrators, and community members to discuss his presentation. During the meeting, Logothetis challenged members of the community to create a program, like a kindness wall or a buddy program, to continue the work that his assembly began.
“If you want the one hour we spent in that room to be pointless,” Logothetis said, “don’t do anything. If you want that one hour we spent in that room to mean something, go out and do something.”
Logothetis made an offer to return to the high school for the opening day of this new program, whatever it may be. “It is up to you,” Logothetis told those at the meeting, “to effect lasting change.” His promise to return to see this change come to fruition is a testament to his devotion to kindness and to his desire to make as many people as possible “feel less alone.”
Principal James Conley introduced the idea of Logothetis’ visit to the high school after watching Logothetis’ Netflix series, The Kindness Diaries. Dean of Students Pat Clark explained the motivation behind bringing Logothetis to Unionville and said, “I think kindness is important because it helps to set a culture in the school. If we can, as a building, try todo the kind thing a lot of times, I think that it would help in any number of situations. I think kindness helps people feel welcome and get them through the day, and if it’s something we can put in front of our students in the community, then it will affect us in a really positive way.”
Mr. Clark, on behalf of the entire high school administration, explained that the goal for this assembly was that the students would walk out with “the ability to think about another person and his or her perspectives or what he or she might be able to do or provide for a person; no matter how small it may seem, it just might make their day a little better.”
Logothetis’ assembly and presentation aimed to provide students with the tools and motivation to do just that. Logothetis also presented to parents and community members later that evening.