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Perspective: Inbox Love

A Simple Message Can Go a Long Way

January 26, 2022 – For most of us, our daily inboxes are swamped. There are memos with attachments of strategic plans and agendas, requests for forecasts and advice, not to mention, personal checklists to coordinate and share. That familiar desktop “ping” can sometimes feel like an interruption – an announcement of another “to do” in an already busy day.

However, there are other times, especially around the holidays, where that “new mail” icon brings me just the smile I need. It might be good news from a recent graduate, or a thoughtful check-in from a major donor. Last month, there was even an unexpected inquiry from Jay Caspian Kang, a former suburban debater who is now a staff writer for The New York Times.

As we all continue this balancing act with our inboxes in 2022, I wanted to share some of these holiday highlights with you.

“Again, thank you for taking me in this summer and helping me develop professionally,” wrote one Alumni Fellow in an email right before Thanksgiving. A college student who is currently studying abroad, he also included a thoughtful postscript: “P.S. I‘ve attached a few pictures from Europe! The first one is from Almería, Spain, second from Amsterdam, and third from Dijon, France.”

“Wow! Thanks for the wonderful start to my day,” I eagerly replied.

A few weeks later, a note from a former Debater of the Year Finalist and thriving alum: “Happy New Year! I wanted to email you to thank you for the mentorship you have provided me and the work you do. I very much appreciate the time you took to give me career guidance. Currently, I am a junior studying economics…. I am very excited to share that I will be working as an Associate Consultant Intern…this upcoming summer. This would not be possible without people like you, so thank you again.”

Bursting with pride, I couldn’t share this fantastic news fast enough with the rest of the NAUDL staff and board members.

And then, of course, the aforementioned communication from Mr. Kang – a quick line or two asking if I had some time to discuss the value of debate. I was pleased to share with him a few insights, highlighting the current challenges and opportunities for NAUDL and our partners. I was thrilled even more that the conversation would inform Jay’s compelling article in the Times Opinion’s Holiday Giving Guide 2021: “The Gift of a Good Argument.” (Times subscribers can still read this terrific piece at the above link.)

The response to this column was truly moving. There were many emails, indeed, notifying us of new donors who answered Jay’s inspired call to support NAUDL and the Urban Debate Network. I thank Jay for sharing his influence and for showcasing the resonance of our mission to a new audience.

I also want to thank you. It’s not lost on me that, if you are reading this reflection, it is likely via a notice of our monthly newsletter in Gmail, Outlook or the like. I am deeply grateful that you took a few minutes to respond to this message “ping” from NAUDL – and I hope it brought a little “love” to your inbox.

Rhonda Haynes
Executive Director

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