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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M student, team, develops app for saying ‘Thank you’

Senior+Michael+Chen+said+he+wants+appreciativeness+to+be+considered+a+core+value+of+A%26amp%3BM.
Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman

Senior Michael Chen said he wants appreciativeness to be considered a core value of A&M.

The saying goes, “There’s an app for everything,’” and now an Aggie-made app provides another way to say, “Thank you.”
Over the past several years, university studies senior Michael Chen and his teammates, who are not all Aggies — chief technology officer Zhen Wang, designer Kevin Ren, film director Bonnie Kay Banks and engineering freshman as well as film editor Colton White — have developed an app called Givenera, which could change the way people approach social media.
According to Chen, Givenera is based on traditional social media apps but the focus is on thanking people the user meets on a daily basis.
“If you search information, you use Google. You shop online, you use Amazon,” Chen said. “You want to say ‘Thank you’ — you use Givenera. It’s to express your gratitude toward others. Our dream is to make helping others a lifestyle all over the world.”
With Givenera, Chen said he hopes to instill in users a desire to thank people, and to build networks of friends across the entire world based on helping each other. The app has a built-in map which allows the user to input the locations where they thank people, and whenever someone sends a thank you note through the app, a bright spot appears on the map where the note was sent from.
Chen said the inspiration for his life’s mission began on a crowded, late-night train in China. There, he saw a mother sleeping on the floor with her child in her arms.
“It was a cold winter. She slept on the floor, but she held her baby tightly to keep her warm, and I saw the baby’s smile on her face — I was so touched,” Chen said. “When I look at this scene, I always think that maybe 20 years ago I was the baby, and the mom was my mom. From that time, I regard helping those poor people as the mission of my life.”
Chen said it was this experience that motivated him to study finance in the United States with the goal of helping people like the mother and daughter he saw on the train.
David Tarvin, communication lecturer, said he has already implemented Givenera into his classes.
“I am going to be offering my intercultural communication course, which is COMM 335,” Tarvin said. “I’m offering them extra credit if they use the app this semester, if they use it at least 15 times, so at least once a week.”
Eventually, Chen said he and his team hope to light up the whole world, just as Givenera’s mission statement says: “Light up the map with kindness by helping others.”
“My professor [Tarvin] and I — we believe education should equally teach students knowledge, plus guide them to be a good person,” Chen said. “However, our education system only rewards knowledge right now; it doesn’t have an accountable way to guide them to be a good person.”
Chen said he believes appreciation should be another Aggie core value because of how powerful it can be in life.
“Whether to get an A or a D in this class will not determine your future success,” Chen said. “But the spirit we emphasize — love, kindness and helping others — will bring you more opportunities in the future and the effects will be everlasting.”
Nathan Crick, associate professor of rhetoric, said he thinks the app can change the face of social media.
“It’s notable for reacting against the tendency for our social media platforms to become colonized by ‘trolls’ and drift toward polarization and narcissism,” Crick said.
Tarvin said he hopes Givenera will promote meaningful communication between his students and the people around them, and will make them appreciate the impact that a simple “Thank you” can have.
“I think it has the potential to encourage others to recognize gratitude,” Tarvin said. “It’s important for us to reach out to others and to express any kind of thanks. I think the app is called ‘Givenera,’ so he wants to create an era where we all think about giving to others.”

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  • Zhen Wang

    Photo by Courtesy
  • Kevin Ren

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  • Bonnie Kay Banks

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  • Colton White

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  • David Tarvin

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