“Golden Rule Moments, from #LiveGoldenaz!” in the AZ Republic

Golden Rule Moments, from #LiveGoldenaz!

Kendra Ruth

Special to Arizona Republic USA TODAY NETWORK

It was a Live Golden Reunion – true Golden Moments to celebrate! Nivea Krishan and Grant Williams, the original Live Golden hosts, have set an amazing example, addressing important topics with teens and sharing them with the general public. #LiveGoldenaz episodes are three minutes long, encouraging teens to voice their opinions on difficult issues, then reflecting how the Golden Rule can be applied for solutions.

The excitement could be felt! After several years of different hosts and videographers, topics and a pandemic, current and former Live Golden Teams came, including Nivea Krishan, Grant Williams, Trisha Panse, Anusha Rahman and James Kinney. We missed Live Golden team members Evan Crabtree, Sean-David Ta and Manvi Harde.

As the conversations began, one topic addressed was how Live Golden helps create a new image for youth. Grant expressed his feeling that people’s opinions really do matter and that you can find goodness in those that are very different from yourself. Nivea also reflected, “Live Golden really taught me the importance of making sure people are engaged.” Larry Fultz, executive director of AZIFM, expressed his warm appreciation for the youth and the example they set that grants multigenerational hope for the future.

LeAnn Basha, AGREE coordinator, who joined the reunion virtually, shared her sentiments, “With youth like this in the world, I can ‘Imagine’ a beautiful future,” referencing John Lennon’s song. She continued, “Where you would like to see the world to be in five years?” The group collectively shared their desire for people to unify, for example identifying primarily as American or a global citizen, versus being so divided. James mentioned how the Olympics were a great example of this desired global energy.

Reflecting back a few months, Manvi, Trisha, Anusha and James were featured on AZTV7’s “Daily Mix.” Show host Brad Perry named them Golden Rule ambassadors. Trisha heartily agreed with this title and stated that Live Golden is “all about giving a voice to teenagers and showing how they use the Golden Rule in their daily lives.” Manvi expressed, “(We) really need to make sure we are careful about what we say and how we make other people feel.” Videographer James also chimed in, stating that it is important to “get the student perspectives out there.” In the concluding moments of the feature, Perry concluded that the Live Golden ambassadors help show Arizonans the importance of listening to the voices of our youth.

During the #LiveGoldenaz Reunion, the truth of Brad’s statement echoed as the ambassadors were asked to pick a word that summed up their personal Live Golden Experience. The words they chose were profound, including: “transformative,” “pragmatic” and “community.” They each clarified their word choices with statements of impact and hope. Anusha, the Live Golden publicist, shared, “I think it is a very realistic way that we approach common social issues and we have this connection that is so real and so (practical) with the community around us, especially with teenagers and peers.” Their comments can assist us in reflecting on the positive impact diverse conversation can have on all of us.

After a countdown and a hearty cheer of “LIVE GOLDEN!,” the teens departed together, smiling and laughing. The sun’s light reflected in the atmosphere around them, and yet it seemed as though the light was coming from within each one of them. They had all experienced a change through their engagement with the Golden Rule. It was as though an army of “golden” civilians were marching out into the world, educated and ready to generate a brighter future.

See video highlights of the Live Golden Reunion at https://goldenruleeducation. org/category/news/ and BELOW.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2021 The Arizona Republic 9/11/2021

“Ash Creek Elementary teaches students the Golden Rule”, published!

“Ash Creek Elementary teaches students the Golden Rule” – GOLDEN RULE MOMENTS

Kendra Ruth Guest Columnist

Road trips are always full of pleasant surprises and a recent road trip to the southern stretch of Arizona was no exception.

Pearce was one of over 48 stops to schools throughout Arizona, recently made by AGREE – Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences. The purpose of these visits was to introduce character experiences that use the universal Golden Rule, treating others the way you want to be treated, in classroom education.

In a Golden Moment, Principal Shepard of Ash Creek Elementary, who had been considering the Golden Rule as her character outreach, realized the AGREE program was just what she was looking for. It was impressive that she scheduled a training session with AGREE for all her staff, including teachers, maintenance, bus drivers, IT and the custodian. She knew it would take a team and wanted everyone on board to become examples of the Golden Rule.

Next, they engaged the students by teaching them about the Golden Rule through various educational experiences. As Ash Creek Elementary teachers included these embedded “golden” messages in lesson plans encouraging students to treat others the way they would like to be treated, they began to see changes.

One young student shared how she decided to treat a fellow student she had a hard time getting along with the way she would want to be treated. As a result, he responded positively to her, they became friends and additionally, he began making more friends!

Another Ash Creek Elementary student noted the positive effects that the Golden Rule had on his classmates and on the campus as a whole. He felt like no one should be “forced” to live the Golden Rule but he saw how those who did live it received more respect from others. In addition, teachers witnessed moments in the classroom where students identified when they were living the Golden Rule on their own accord, sharing how good it made them feel.

Ash Creek Elementary held a celebratory assembly to recognize school-wide efforts to become a Golden Rule School. During the assembly, staff and students shared works of art that expressed personal experiences with the Golden Rule. At the end of the assembly, staff and students took the AGREE pledge to live the Golden Rule by applying the four words; Kindness, Empathy, Respect and Civility. The excitement and resolution was felt by all. Ash Creek Elementary was chosen by AGREE as the 2021 Arizona Golden Rule School and was featured on AZTV, Channel 7. Their story can be seen on www.aztv.com and www.azGoldenRule. org. They received a $1,000 check to support them in continuing Golden Rule educational efforts.

The story doesn’t end there! They created a time capsule that includes meaningful items that commemorate the year they became a Golden Rule School. The time capsule will be opened again in 2036. Many staff humorously question if they will still be around at that time, but they all hope to see this resolve to be a Golden Rule School continue to grow.

As you walk across the beautiful Ash Creek Elementary campus, the walls are painted with “golden” images and messages about kindness are visibly displayed; even the rocks by their public library are painted with positive messages! They’re working to live the Golden Rule as a school family and team. AGREE applauds the students and staff of Ash Creek Elementary. May their golden efforts bless their lives well beyond their school years and have a positive impact in their communities!

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2021 The Arizona Republic 8/16/2021

How to live authentically as a Golden Rule activist

On June 2, 2020, 14.6 million people uploaded a single black square to their social media feed in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. This extensive online crusade swarmed the nation by storm after protests in the summer of 2020 and established the framework for the upcoming social media activist movement that still dominates our pages today.

However, beyond the sea of black lies a prominent underlying issue that we as a generation have faced today: performative activism. While the messages of spreading awareness have good intentions, acts such as Blackout Tuesday drown out the voices of those affected in a mass effort of solidarity.

Performative activism, additionally known as “slacktivism,” is best defined by Oxford Dictionary as “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media … often involving very little effort or commitment.” It’s the very epitome of a popular saying: “Fake it til you make it.” But in this case, what you’re faking is the support for social justice movements that affect the livelihoods of millions across the nation.

So how can we as educated individuals differentiate between performance and being genuine? Here is where the Golden Rule comes in. While authenticity is not one of the four pillars of the Golden Rule, it most definitely is implied. Honesty and kindness together are the ingredients needed for being a supportive and true activist on social media. Without fighting for what we really believe in, while also acknowledging other points of view, we are neither being honest to ourselves nor to others. These youth demonstrate how our generation should really stand up for what they believe in, by being true ambassadors of the Golden Rule.

But the Golden Rule doesn’t only help

The first step is to acknowledge that you were a part of the problem and then see what you can do from there.

You become a better activist, it also serves as a guiding method for the next steps you can take to elevate your presence online AND offline.

The first step is to acknowledge that you were a part of the problem

The second is to educate yourself instead of depending on the people around you. Even if you are not in a position to donate or protest, you can still learn how to utilize your privilege and be thoughtful about moments when you may inadvertently speak over the group you mean to support. Maintaining a sense of civility within your conversations with others who might not share the same opinions as you is key in bridging cultural divisions.

And third, use your online platform to instead share fundraisers for the families of victims, email templates to send to your local representatives and links to bail funds such as the Minneapolis Freedom Fund, which has currently raised over $20 million. All of this may take some time out of your day, but the Golden Rule teaches us that genuine progress comes with genuine effort.

Tune into our segment about online activism on April 27 at 8 a.m. on AZTV Channel 7 or watch it on the AGREE Golden Rule website (azGolden-Rule.org) under LiveGolden.

Anusha Rahman is the publicist for LiveGoldenAZ! She is currently a student at Hamilton High School.

Live Golden

Anusha Rahman Special to Arizona Republic

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2021 The Arizona Republic 4/28/2021

“5 simple steps to help you live Golden Rule” published

5 simple steps to help you live Golden Rule

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

International Golden Rule Day has been celebrated on April 5 since 2007, when several notable organizations, including the United Nations, made the proclamation. There was a strong resolve by individuals such as Ambassador Mussie Hailu, who believed a focus on the Golden Rule would benefit citizens around the globe.

In gratitude, the Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences (AGREE) issued a challenge to the citizens of Arizona inviting you to “Experience the Golden Rule” in five simple steps.

High school student Shriya Shah took the Golden Rule Challenge and went “big” with her efforts. In an interview with youth reporter Kirra, she shared, “The Golden Rule means being able to recognize the little things that people do for you.” Shriya likes being able to go to school and have the resources for a good education. She decided to reach out to her community and identified a school lacking the resources that she personally feels privileged to have. With help from community partners, she was able to collect $3,000 worth of school supplies, including headsets, WiFi hotspots, tablets and hand sanitizer. In the process, Shriya was able to touch over 500 students’ lives! She shared how meaningful it was for her to see the gratitude expressed by school staff for the donations. Shriya stated that it was an “incredibly humbling experience.”

How can I make a difference with my friends? Youth Reporter Kirra also took the challenge! She likes when other people make her things. So decided

Golden Rule Moments

to make a bunch of cookies and delivered them to her friends. She created a work of art that depicted her experience, and because she took the challenge, she now understands more fully what it means to live the Golden Rule.

Both Shriya and Kirra took the challenge in their own unique way, with that “golden” thread being how good it feels to live the Golden Rule. Imagine the impact if Arizona citizens took the challenge and flooded our great state with Golden Rule actions this month!

How does the challenge work? The five simple steps are as follows: 1 Write. Write about multiple ways that you like to be treated.

2 Plan. Make a “golden” plan to do something for someone else by treating them in one of the ways you like to be treated.

3 Take Action. Take action on your plan! Remember to take pictures and write about your experiences, reflecting on how they responded.

4 Create. Create a work of art to share your Golden Rule experience. It could be a poem, a drawing, a song, anything to help the experience become more meaningful to you and others.

5 Share. Youth may choose to submit their writings and art at experience@ azgoldenrule.com for the opportunity to be interviewed by AGREE youth.

Reporter Kirra Abplanalp is featured on AGREE Social Media. Adults may choose to post about their experience on social media #AZGREE sharing how they took the challenge and inviting others to do the same. In essence, you would be both creating and sharing your own golden moment.

The Golden Rule is a rule of action. By reflecting, you begin to develop an inner compass to help navigate all your social interactions based on how you like to be treated. May we each live the Golden Rule, focusing not on what others can do for us but focusing on what we can do for others.

Kendra Ruth is an AGREE Development/ School Liaison.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2021 The Arizona Republic 4/14/2021

“Golden Rule gesture for all of Arizona” published!

Golden Rule gesture for all of Arizona

Golden Rule Moment

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

This kind of great news seldom is heard or known.

First, a little background: Rep. Mark Anderson, along with countless other faith leaders and community leaders, had the fortune of meeting and knowing Mesa resident Daryl Andersen. He was known by many as the “Golden Rule” guy — the guy who wore Golden Rule suspenders.

Perhaps many readers may remember Daryl’s efforts, sharing Golden Rule bumper stickers, meeting with religious leaders to bridge differences and his passion for educating the community about the Golden Rule. Gradually, it became clear that the Golden Rule wasn’t just for one religion but was common in most faiths, as well as being a standard for many secular ethics.

With Mark’s character and familiarity with the Golden Rule, the scene was set for our Golden Moment to happen at the state Legislature. In a recent interview, he shared how members of the Arizona Interfaith Movement (AZIFM) approached him while he was in the House of Representatives. They brought to Mark’s attention the idea of Arizona becoming a “Golden Rule state.” In Mark’s words, “I was just the person facilitating the process, there were so many people who went and talked to legislators.” I couldn’t help but chuckle as he told us that one of the questions he used to convince his colleagues was, “Are you sure you want to go on record as someone who voted against the Golden Rule?” Yet, through his efforts, the resolution went to the House, to the Senate and then to the Governor’s Office, where it was signed and made official on May 13, 2003. Arizona became the first Golden Rule state in the United States.

Mark also shared a story that occurred while he was later serving as justice of peace. Two men were ticketed for jaywalking, and they expressed how they didn’t feel the charge was fair. Mark heard their story and realized that the nearest crosswalk was about 1 ⁄ 4 mile away from where they crossed. Rather than holding them to their fine, he proposed something different. He had them draft a proposal to the Scottsdale City Council suggesting a crosswalk in the very same area where they were ticketed. Showing empathy by considering how it might feel if he were in their same situation resulted in a win-win for everyone.

As the development/school liaison for Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences (AGREE), I have seen firsthand the impact of this statewide resolution and celebrate each person who voted “yes.” AGREE offers the universal concepts of the Golden Rule through folktales from around the world that carry insights about why we live “kindness, empathy, civility and respect” day to day.

Another unique outcome of becoming a Golden Rule state was the creation of a specialty Arizona Golden Rule license plate that reads, “Live the Golden Rule.” Mark encourages others to purchase one.

“It’s a chance for people to express their values,” he said. “If everybody lived the Golden Rule, we wouldn’t need laws, courts, police or judges, because people would be treating each other properly, in the right way.”

In all his professional practices, Mark’s goal has been to figure out how best to help each person he has come in contact with. He has kept a focus on character and educating others, especially our youth, about the Golden Rule. This Golden Moment when Mark Anderson and others helped Arizona become a Golden Rule state will forever be a reminder to each of us to ponder what it means to treat others the way we want to be treated and find ways daily to live it.

Kendra Ruth is a development/school liaison for Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences.


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Powered by TECNAVIAPART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2021 The Arizona Republic 03/13/2021

“Teen makes specialty face masks for deaf, gets lesson in return” published in The Republic

Teen makes specialty face masks for deaf, gets lesson in return

Smiles have returned to the faces of a local deaf community through specialty face masks created by 15-year-old Neil Pandey of Queen Creek.

I had the opportunity to interview this upbeat and intelligent young man about the impact he had on the deaf community this summer. As a junior at American Leadership Academy, he enrolled in an American Sign Language (ASL) course and became interested in the unique culture of deaf communities. Now as a sophomore and in light of the pandemic, he clearly had a Golden Moment. He stated, “I learned more about the struggles they (the deaf community) faced in communication, being very visual and involving facial cues. … I decided to see if there is an alternative mask for people who interact with deaf people.”

Neil took it upon himself to research and come up with a mask design that included a clear window, allowing audibly impaired individuals to read lips while communicating. He also reached out to his ASL teacher, Bailee Kanaga, who helped him evaluate the current need for his masks.

He was surprised to find that “these masks were needed everywhere.” Communities responded with a resounding yes, which moved him to jump into action. As he began creating the masks, he ran into all sorts of questions and challenges. Some of these challenges included creating the masks to be reusable and washable. He also needed to find plastic that didn’t fog easily.

With the help of his family and also “dusting” off his grandmother’s sewing machine, he knew he would still need more support to truly help the deaf community. In an effort to make this happen, he started a GoFund me to help cover the cost of materials.

With an original goal of $1,500, Neil was able to raise more than $2,240, with many people wanting to get involved.

His local Boy Scout Troop 283 and Girl Scout Troop 229 were a great help, along with many family members and friends. Over 1,500 of Neil’s Deaf-Friendly Masks were made and shipped as far as New York and Georgia.

During our interview he expressed a sincere desire to do good and show kindness.

“I felt excited because I wanted to help others,” he said.

The Golden Moment was reciprocated as Neil made a personal visit to a local deaf community, Apache ASL Trails Valley Center for the Deaf, and wit-

Golden Rule Moments

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

Neil Pandey sews masks on his grandma’s machine at his home in Queen Creek. COURTESY OF ANJALI ROY

nessed the impact of his efforts.

Thanks to the help of the community manager, Neil was able to present masks to the residents in person. They expressed their immense gratitude, signing with them through their new masks, giving him gifts of appreciation and offering “many life lessons.”

One of the community members, an artist, gave him a thank you card about how an act of kindness can truly impact people in meaningful ways. He was deeply touched by their response because it helped reassure him that he can make a difference.

In an essay he wrote that overviewed his experience, Neil said, “I see the smiles behind the windows in pictures of people wearing my masks, and that keeps me going.”

The moment was truly Golden for every person involved, both in giving and receiving.

What started as a sign language course to get credit has now become a more personal connection for Neil with the deaf community and his own ability to do good deeds.

“I think this message has been said before, but I think I know the meaning of it now more than ever,” Neil says. “Any act of kindness will make a difference, no matter how small it is.”

Kendra Ruth is the AGREE Development and school liaison.

Neil (center) with members of the ASL community. COURTESY OF ANJALI ROY

“The inspiration behind keeping the Golden Rule promise” – published!

The inspiration behind keeping the Golden Rule promise

By Vicki Higgins

Special to Arizona Republic USA TODAY NETWORK

Driving daily on Arizona streets and highways, I would often see “Golden Rule” license plates on vehicles. It was not until the AGREE program was brought to my school that I learned of the importance of these plates — funding for the AGREE program. Immediately I knew I was going to support AGREE and purchase a plate for my own vehicle. Never having a vanity plate, I also knew this would be the perfect time to design a plate that represented me and the “Golden Rule” message.

For several months I thought about what I would have molded into my plate. Nothing I came up with seemed right. I wanted something meaningful to the message of the plate – a series of numbers, letters, numbers and letters that related to “living the Golden Rule.” One day, without warning, an event occurred that would lead me to my beloved “Golden Rule” vanity plate, ‘AZ 22420.’

As a basketball fan, I had followed Kobe Bryant through his career. Not only was Kobe an amazing athlete, he was an ambassador to women’s’ basketball and a philanthropist. On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter accident along with his daughter, Gianna, and several others on the way to his daughter’s basketball game. Stunned like the rest of the world, I found myself learning about the amazing acts of kindness that few knew about until after Kobe was gone. Athletes, kids, friends, family, started sharing their stories, big or small, about Kobe and his generosity, money he had donated, ill kids he had visited, foundations he had supported, on and on.

On February 7, Kobe and his daughter were buried in a private funeral in Pacific View Memorial Park in the Corona del Mar neighborhood of Newport Beach, California. Stories of Kobe’s generosity continued to pour out over the next few weeks. Stories of kindness, empathy, respect, and civility flooded news sources and social media. Wanting to allow all fans the opportunity to say goodbye to such an amazing athlete and person, a public memorial service was held on February 24, 2020 at Staples Center. This date was chosen intentionally to forever represent Kobe and Gianna.

As I sat and watched the public service from my home, my Golden Rule moment told me immediately what my vanity plate would say, and more importantly, represent. While choosing my personalized AGREE license plate I decided to request 22420 In my mind, not only did this represent an amazing man and his daughter, but it also represented the message of the “Golden Rule.”

I believe Kobe Bryant was a true example of the “Golden Rule.” I continue to find story after story of amazing acts of Kobe’s kindness. Through my own love of basketball, awe of Kobe Bryant and what he stood for, and dedication to the AGREE program, I had no doubt that “22420” was a great choice for my plate! I immediately put in my vanity plate request. A short time later my plate arrived. Each day I have the privilege of driving with a license plate that commemorates a great person and supports an amazing educational program.

Vicki Higgins is an educator at the Arts Academy at Estrella Mountain.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2020 The Arizona Republic 10/15/2020

“Golden Rule creating positive change at E. Valley High School”

“Golden Rule creating positive change at E. Valley High School”

Golden Rule Moments

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

Each school has a unique story to tell. The following story is about an Arizona school that created positive change by teaching and focusing on the Golden Rule.

As a former Marine and Phoenix police officer, John Baker was seeing the same repetitive behaviors amongst troubled youth that lead to life-altering penalties. He wanted to affect a child’s life before it got to that point. He wanted to create change in that vicious cycle. To make a greater impact, he decided to focus on education and made a major career switch, high school principal. He was hired by East Valley High School, a free public charter school in Mesa.

“When I got to EVHS,” he says, “what I found was kids that didn’t care about themselves, they didn’t care about others and they didn’t care about the language they used. They were just downright disrespectful sometimes.”

Then something golden happened to shift Principal Baker to a solution.

He met with a representative from the AGREE program and realized EVHS would be the ideal place for the Golden Rule to have the biggest impact. AGREE has a mission to “provide educational experiences with high academic standards” and a vision to create a “world of civility, respect and harmony among all people with the Golden Rule as the standard for conduct” while focusing on four compass words: “Kindness, Empathy, Respect and Civility.”

Principal Baker realized that to create an impact, he would need to start with the staff.

“I started with the staff showing the students how to treat each other regardless of how we are being treated,” he says. “We still treated them with kindness, respect, empathy and civility.”

This focus on having staff model the Golden Rule began affecting students’ behavior, who then started to display the same “golden” attributes in return. The students were living the Golden Rule without even realizing it! EVHS staff took note that by living the Golden Rule themselves, they were vicariously teaching students the type of behavior and attitude they would like to see.

The students felt the difference! One student remarked, “These teachers are actually proud of us.” The effect extended to how the students interacted with each other as students began to show respect and civility in the hallways and during class. It was thrilling to witness this firsthand and see teachers speaking with empathy towards the students, using meaningful words and encouraging tones, and hearing the respectful way students were interacting with their teachers and visitors. The “Golden Rule License Plate” painted on a central campus wall was also impressive to behold. Perhaps, the climax of the story is in the correlation between the Golden Rule and the EVHS graduation rate. They went from a 67% graduation rate to a 94% graduation rate in just one year, the same year Principal Baker chose to put the Golden Rule into action.

Because of their schoolwide effort to live the Golden Rule, these “Golden” moments emerged as a dynamic impact. East Valley High School was recognized as a Golden Rule School on AZTV, Channel 7, sponsored by Bashas’ and received $1,000 for their implementation of the Golden Rule. Along with Principal Baker, the AGREE team extends a challenge to other schools to implement the Golden Rule by choosing to treat others the way you want to be treated no matter how you are treated in return.

Kendra Ruth is the AGREE Development and school liaison.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2020 The Arizona Republic 9/15/2020

“A golden sunset at the Grand Canyon” by Kendra Ruth, Published!

A golden sunset at the Grand Canyon

Golden Rule Moments

Kendra Ruth Guest columnist

We aren’t always able to see eye to eye. That’s part of being human, right?

But there are those moments, those Golden Moments when suddenly there is connection, harmony and peace.

One day, I decided on a whim to drive to the Grand Canyon. I’d been struggling with certain painful memories and processing the aftermath of COVID-19 in our nation. It was a heaviness that I wanted to release into the Canyon’s depths. Upon arriving, my mind gravitated to a pleasant memory from my last visit to the Canyon. It involved laughing with strangers and huddling closely together while we waited in line. It had been a very cold day. After recalling this memory, I realized how few people there were visiting that day in contrast and how we were all distanced and enduring a colossal heat.

The clouds, however, seemed to consider our situation favorably, for as the sun’s blazing rays seemed unbearable, they were suddenly intercepted by cool and protective cloud coverage.

Along the Rim, there is a path called the Rim Trail. It is wheelchair-accessible, which enables all visitors to stroll along with a constant view of the Canyon’s beauty. I’d been off to a late start that day and though my time was limited, I decided that it would benefit my heart greatly to walk the trail. As I did, I saw couples walking hand in hand, friends laughing in shared experiences and children begging for attention from their parents. Photographers were also busy portraying the vastness of the Canyon through their own unique lenses. I was witnessing such sweet interactions that they turned my mind to the beauty of humanity instead of the initial heaviness I had felt. That’s when it happened, a Golden Moment and experience I’ll never forget.

In the distance, I saw people walking hastily with their cameras, both the young and the old, gathering at some seemingly planned celebration or timed event. As I rounded another ruin, I saw another family dashing to the Rim, cameras in hand. What happened next is what I now supposed to be a sacred and daily occurrence at the Grand Canyon . It was a gathering of picnic blankets and kisses, families nestled

closely together, heads inclined onto each other’s shoulders, tripods set to perfection and a centralized focus on the horizon. It seemed like everyone I’d witnessed throughout the day was there. It was time for the sun to set.

As it timelessly touched the Rim, we were all being glazed in its magnificent colors. Collectively, we remained silent as the sun calmly performed this daily ritual. I looked around and noticed the expressions on people’s faces, so many smiles and peaceful demeanors. At that point, the sun had completely disappeared, and yet the light still reflected off the clouds, fragmenting for a final show of color. I remembered how those were the same clouds that had sheltered us from the sun earlier that day — all of us.

Then, just like that, time sped back up again. A child perched up on a rock nearby started to clap and many of us joined in. It felt like we were thanking the sun for its amazing performance here at the Grand Canyon. As the communal spot began to clear, with people picking up blankets and counting children, I thought how that sunset and the Canyon had brought us all together. It was magical to me because it didn’t matter our background, our personal beliefs, the color of our skin, or our country of origin, just a feeling of oneness. I left that day changed.

Kendra Ruth is the AGREE development/ school liaison.

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2020 The Arizona Republic 8/13/2020