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From the Editor: Can Free Hugs Change the World?

by Julie Schwietert Mar 28, 2009

Every day, travelers and expats around the world are blogging about their journeys over on our community blog. This week alone, Matador members have written about their experiences teaching in Ecuador and exploring the Hluhluwe Game Reserve in South Africa (from a wheelchair).

One of my favorite blogs this week was from Matador member Mojo, who wrote from London about his experience joining a group of Couchsurfers to give passersby free hugs.

“There are lots of incredible people out there… trying to make the world a closer place,” Mojo wrote.

So he joined a few of them with his own FREE HUGS sign down by the Thames. Here’s what happened next:

“The next two hours of my life were absolutely incredible. As the general public raced by I held my sign up and shouted things like, “Free Hugs!”, “Hugs are awesome and I can prove it!”, “Have you hugged a Canadian today?”.

It started off slowly. Many people tried to ignore us as they passed. Some stopped to take photos of the “crazy people” but kept a safe distance.

But then I saw a woman standing just a few feet away, watching us with a smile on her face. I walked over to her and said, “Would you like a hug?” and without a word she put her arms around me. People started to clap and cheer and it was like an invisible barrier had been broken because more onlookers started coming over and hugging other CSers…. [T]he cynics and the skeptics were massively outnumbered by the ones who walked away smiling; feeling a little happier that their day was a little brighter.”

Maybe free hugs won’t change the world… but they might just change your day.


To learn more about the FREE HUGS Campaign around the world, check out the official website here.

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