April is a beautiful time of year because it’s when the world really starts to wake up from its wintry sleep. Trees begin to burst with bright green leaves, and plants bloom a dazzling rainbow of colors. The sunshine finally feels warm again, and everyone breaks out their favorite summer clothes. But for college students, April also presents one of the greatest challenges of school — final exams.

Between the beginning of April and the first or second week of May, students are bending over backward to meet deadlines, work shifts at their jobs and cram in extra studying. Final exams can be overwhelming, which is why students spend hours reviewing their notes.

For Anne-Marie Downes, the kindness of humanity stepped in through Twitter after someone stole her final exam notes and prompted extreme panic for her at first. Check out how she got help from complete strangers in a moment of need.

What Happened?

Downes is a student at Oxford University, which won the title of World’s Best University in 2016. Oxford routinely ends up on top lists with colleges like Harvard and Yale, so you have to be ready for a challenging course load when you enroll. In addition to being a student at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Downes studies politics and philosophy. Her degree combines multiple disciplines, making her exams that much more rigorous.

On Saturday, April 21, Downes traveled back to her hometown of Durham for a wedding. Making time to do something fun during final exam season is difficult for any student, but Downes made it work by bringing a rucksack filled with all her notes so she could study when she found a second or two away. Unfortunately, while she was enjoying her time off campus that Saturday, someone grabbed her bag and took everything, including her class notes.

As anyone could imagine, Downes said her first reaction when she couldn’t find her bag was panic. After informing the police about the theft, she decided to take another step to help find her belongings by sending out a tweet. She wrote that her bag was stolen, along with all her notes and work for her finals, along with a request for people to let her know if they spotted any dumped belongings. She assumed thieves would keep her laptop and leave the rest behind.

The Help of Strangers

Relying on social media to get help isn’t a new concept. Police have been using social media to solve crimes for a while now. Indeed, in the modern technological landscape, what you write on social media does have more of an impact than many of us realize, and can sometimes make or break your circumstances. In this case, social media showed its positive side — Downes’ tweet has been retweeted more than 19,000 times.

People in the Durham area are well aware to look for her bag and continue to spread the word. Meanwhile, students in her courses and those who have taken similar courses in previous years have stepped forward to provide her copies of their notes. While Downes waited for someone to find her notes, she received support and help from her local academic community and Twitter users around the world in the meantime.

Sometimes when life is the most overwhelming, negative events can make it all feel like it’s come crashing down around you. For students who are already overstressed from studying for final exams, that can happen pretty easily. April is when students desperately need everything to start falling into line.

When Downes encountered a nightmare situation for a student cramming for exams, everyone came to her aid. Police began to mobilize to solve her crime, and her student community showed all the support they could. While they continue to retweet, spread the word and send her notes to help her study, what could have been a negative news story continues to get rewritten with hope and kindness. The world needs more positive news stories like this, which is one of the reasons word of it is spreading so quickly.

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About Author

Kate Harveston covers social justice and human rights issues. She graduated with a Bachelors in English and minored in Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to the intersections of law, politics and culture. For more of her writing, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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