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Love is in the air at Montgomery College—and it is spreading. It all started in Dr. Leszek Sibilski’s Introduction to Sociology class last fall, when he took his introductory project to the next level and challenged his students to say “I love you” to people they would not normally say this to. Sibilski’s #LoveUChallenge may be the next viral movement—and so far people are loving it.

Dr. Leszek Sibilski, right, being interviewed by NBC4’s Tommy McFly.

The goal of the project is to have students engage other people and interact face to face. “The rule is each student must approach three people and tell them that they love them,” Sibilski said. He added that if the student approaches a stranger, the student must provide a full explanation of the project. Students in the class want #LoveUChallenge to go far and wide, so each recipient posts a photo or video and challenges three more people.

The #LoveUChallenge has already reached people in 20 countries via social media and local media. NBC4’s Tommy McFly aired a segment about the project last month—and advanced the challenge by telling anchors Leon Harris and Pat Lawson Muse he loved them and tweeting a picture, along with the hashtag.

Life is short. We have to take advantage of it. Tell the people that you care about that you love them—and spread it to the world.

“Love is a wide and flexible concept and we should not think only about high hormones and romantic love. We love our parents, our teachers, and the people who protect us,” Sibilski says.

The project is an outgrowth of Sibilski’s lectures on love. Sibilski realized how important this sentiment is last June, when he had a near-death experience in Hawaii. “When I was in the intensive care unit, I was waiting for people who were taking care of me to provide me with love and good news. Love is very powerful.”

#LoveUChallenge banner created by Dr. Sibilski’s Introduction to Sociology class.

Gabriel Gustavo Rodriguez, one of Dr. Sibilski’s students, chose to say it to his best friend. “We hadn’t ever talked in that way, so it was kind of awkward when it first happened. Surprisingly, he told me that he loved me back immediately.” Other recipients in the challenge range from close family members to total strangers. One student told her Uber driver she loved him. Students also reported that siblings started speaking to each other again, thanks to the challenge.

As the #LoveUChallenge gains momentum, students in Sibilski’s class say they have learned some important lessons. Rodriguez said, “Life is short. We have to take advantage of it. Tell the people that you care about that you love them—and spread it to the world.”

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