Bonjour, Hola, Shalom: Michael McCormack, Founder of World Hello Day

In the fall of his senior year, while his fellow students immersed themselves in writing theses, applying to graduate schools or kicking back and enjoying the good life, Michael J. McCormack '74 was busy starting his own holiday.

McCormack says he and his brother Brian McCormack wanted to do something in response to the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict.

The result was World Hello Day.

"We wanted to do something to celebrate the importance of personal communication to preserving peace," McCormack says.

The two brothers spent all their money on postage and sent a letter to as many world leaders as they could find, asking them to support the new holiday.


That first year, McCormack and his brother gained the support of 15 countries; in the 25 years since, they have reached almost eight times that many.

Every November 21, the brothers invite people all over the world to take part in the celebration simply by saying "hello" to any 10 people.

McCormack himself can say "hello" in over 65 different languages, including Bantu, Inuit and Urdu.

Residents of 179 countries have celebrated the holiday, and McCormack has received written support from almost 100 authors, entertainers, Nobel Prize winners and world leaders.

"Whenever I have a tough night, I just remember that I've been in contact with 1.1 billion people in the Republic of China, and that makes things easier," McCormack says.

When he's not sending letters out across the world, McCormack spends his time writing and acting in professional productions.

He has written several novels, including Gandhi's Last Book and The Quotations of Chairman Meow (based on the adventures of his cat, Milo).

He recently co-wrote Farewell Fillmore High, an interactive play about a high school reunion in which every member of the audience becomes an alum of the school.

"We're selling out like crazy," McCormack says, adding that he is searching for investors to take the show national.

Though the success and long life of World Hello Day came as a surprise, McCormack says that he has wanted to write and act since he was seven years old and is not surprised to find himself doing so decades later.

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