It’s not been a year since I’ve known Katy, but whether it’s working together through Young Women in Business, bonding over our mutual love of social justice and policy, Taylor Swift and SoulCycle, I couldn’t think of anyone better to feature in my new series where I’ll be highlighting some really cool life stories of those around me. Because she stands out to me with her positivity, kindness, and involvement in philanthropy, I had to sit down and formally ask more about how she combines her love for fashion and sustainability, as well as how she navigates the intersection of business and social activism. This past year, I’ve been learning more about Katy and her kindness through her work at YWIB UBC and Amnesty International.
I am so fortunate to be able to share Katy’s story, especially how she ended up taking steps to be more kind through all aspects of her life and why she values kindness so much.
As a brief introduction, Katy Ho is a third year undergraduate student studying business at the University of British Columbia. As a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council and a UBC Sauder Commerce Scholar, she advises the faculty on issues pertinent to the business school and conducts research on how commerce can be used as a driver for social change. Last year, Katy founded the YWiB Roots Program, which aims to empower women through giving back to the community. A passionate human rights activist, she is also the president of Amnesty International UBC, a non-partisan organization that campaigns for human rights all over the world. In her spare time, Katy fuels her love of the arts as a freelance writer and editor for various creative projects.
Back in ninth grade, Katy went on a Washington trip to learn more about the Holocaust. The visiting of museums personalized the whole experience for her. She began to see each person’s life as more than a number and wonder about the “why”: why the conflict started and how different beliefs could have led to such disastrous outcomes. That experience solidified her personal philosophy that “fundamentally we are the same species: we are all human,” and initiated her social activism and philanthropy work to come.
The kindness that Katy finds so important is centred on bridging our understanding, and realizing that we are all in it together. And in order for that to happen, she believes storytelling and narratives are crucial to developing kindness on a larger scale. Increasing the diversity of narratives helps with judgement and “brings people together through empathy…learning from a lived experience.” Katy personally seeks to combine her love for fashion, an art, and her passion for business to highlight the interdisciplinary need of all industries to collaboratively tackle global challenges.
Because we both have a tendency to talk about current events and an interest in policy, we both discussed how essential it is to be kind, especially during this politically turbulent time. Katy highlights some tips through a social impact lens that one could employ in their personal life:
- “It’s not about putting yourself in a box. It’s about remaining open minded and approaching each opportunity and person with kindness.”
Often times, there are people that aren’t going to agree with you and are pretty hard set on their opinions. But rather than getting frustrated, it’s about recognizing them as a human being. And then, going about sharing in a respectful way if they are receptive. Sometimes it can be so difficult to understand another person’s views or opinions and not judge, but taking the time to find out the “why” can be extremely helpful. How did their upbringing, life experiences, culture or background influence their thoughts?
“Every action has significance. Micro aggressions add up and can make a very negative impact, from the language to body language you use. The small things make a big difference..” Never underestimate the impact you can have as they say!
“Take the time to immerse yourself in diverse narratives: read news, books, and stories from different people, cultures, and perspectives.”
Challenge yourself to have a respectful conversation with a person you don’t agree with or has a difference perspective. It’s not so much an us vs. them mentality. We have relatively similar values, but we just have different approaches. For instance, how Alberta and BC vary in their approaches to sustainability and economic growth regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline.
“You can’t tell what someone is going through just by looking at them. Empathy is key.”
“[Especially] being a business student, this is a big thing for me: being a conscious consumer and realizing your choices can have a major impact on the lives of others. Checking to make sure the things you buy are ethically produced and have a minimal impact on the environment is key. Your dollar is really a vote for what you believe in, and you don’t want your dollars to go towards injustice. Instead, I’d encourage people to consider a more sustainable and ethical philosophy towards consumption such as veganism, minimalism, zero-waste, or buying secondhand/ rentals.”
“Being kind to yourself is crucial, because the small ways you treat yourself can manifest into how you treat others.”
These tips were such a refreshing reminder about the kindness that is important to employ in our regular lives. As we ended our conversation, Katy drove the point of kindness home: “Regularly reflect on your own beliefs and question them. We are so often conditioned to believe things as we’re brought up a certain way or in a particular bubble, but empathy is key.”
Exciting news *flash update* Katy is currently organizing a charity fashion gala with YWiB UBC to take place in November 2018. The event will explore the social justice and environmental impact of the fashion industry. Connect with her to stay updated: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaitlyn-ho/.
Furthermore, Katy and I are also spearheading an arts awareness philanthropy focused gala on October 2nd! Through YWIB and Art2Heart collaborating with the BC Women’s Hospital, we want to increase artistic opportunities and expression for UBC students, and also give back to a cause that aligns with both our organizations! If you’re interested in submitting art work or performing that evening, please email Katy at email@example.com and myself at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the event page here and more info about getting involved: YWIBxArt2Heart Art Gallery Event