A simple complaint to the right person gets Olathe teen a trip to Australia

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OLATHE, Kan. – We’ve all complained about something. The weather, your co-workers, you name it.  But how often do our complaints actually create change? A local student found out it can.

Grace Riek attends Mill Creek school in the Olathe School District. Riek is on her school’s newspaper staff. The software the class uses wasn’t as user-friendly as she felt it should be. So she fired off an email to the company, Canva, and that’s turned into a free trip to Australia.

“My name is Grace Riek,” began the email, “and I wish to provide a recommendation for Canva program capabilities.”

Grace and her fellow newspaper staff write their stories in a shared Google Document. Their teacher approves the stories. Then each student is responsible for using Canva to put in their article, and do the story’s layout. The problem was that only one student was allowed to be in Canva at a time.

Grace sat at her home computer to demonstrate. “It will say at the top if someone else is working on this, you can’t work on it,” she said. “So it’s really frustrating that we can’t work on it all together.”

So she typed off a quick email to the website itself. The email in full read:

My name is Grace Riek and I wish to provide a recommendation for Canva’s program capabilities. I believe that a group of people should be able to work on a document simultaneously. On Canva you cannot work on a document if someone else is also working on it, and I think that should change. My class is using Canva to build our school newspaper and it is very difficult to write my piece while others are working on theirs. In conclusion, I hope you take my recommendation into consideration and make things easier for many people.

Like many of us in that situation, Grace didn’t hope for much. “The most that I expected was to get an automated message,” she said.

“But then I got an email back from her, and it was personal and it was amazing.”

“She said ‘I completely agree with you. We`re on it!’,” Grace continued. “I said ‘thank you so much’, because I didn`t expect anything to happen. And then after that, she sent me another email.”

This one was the life-changing one. “We are also keen to explore the possibility of flying Grace and a guardian over to Sydney, Australia on December 6,” read Grace from her father’s phone as she relieved the experience, “to the campus office to participate in a product launch.”

Father Bill is obviously going along. He said “it’s on my bucket list, and I get to do it because of my daughter!”

Then he turned serious. “I am super-proud of my daughter. Because she’s always been a little shy,” he explained. “She was afraid to ask for mustard on her hamburger. She was that kind of a kid, she was just super shy. So for her to take that initiative, to write the letter, to do it nicely, but concisely, and to have that courage in an of itself is amazing of itself.”

Grace’s school has agreed that this is an educational trip, so she doesn’t have to worry about making up all of the schoolwork she’ll miss over the next week. But to Grace, there’s a lesson here that has nothing to do with a Journalism class.

“I guess it just means that if you were nice about it, like if you don`t get into it screaming and yelling: and this is wrong, and then you might actually get a response or something out of it.”

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