The Office of Student Life at Ohio State University annually hosts an MLK Day of Service, in which students have the day off and are given an opportunity to participate in service events throughout the community. Although temperatures were sub-zero, this did not stop the hundreds, even thousands, of students that showed to give back.
A large group of International Affairs participated in the event, and myself along with 9 others ended up being placed at COSI for the day. At COSI, we were cutting 4-inch plastic tubes and sorting rubber bands into plastic bags. The bags would be used to integrate science in elementary communities and teach complex topics in a simple, and fun way. Although these seem like tedious tasks, it did not feel that way. This didn’t feel like service to me; it was too fun. Being surrounded by my peers made the experience very enjoyable for all us. It was very cool to learn about how our service would be used to impact the community. Prior to this event, I had only experienced very few service events that I had truly enjoyed. I have a newfound sense of the term ‘service.’ For example, prior to this day, I had viewed service as another thing on the to-do list. I think lending a helping hand did more for me than it could have possibly done for others, but learning about the impact first-hand was much more enjoyable. I hope to gain more experience in this area of my life.
As a pillar of GOALS of Honors & Scholars, committing to the community on such an important day in history meant a lot to me and my peers. Various ideas from the pillars of International Affairs were also represented: we got to extend a helping hand into the community on a day that celebrates diversity and the fight for rights. Where would IA be without these ideas and respect?
Prior to departure to COSI, we attended an opening session at the Ohio Union where various performances were put on to celebrate MLK’s legacy. Something about the idea of thousands of individuals gathered together to honor his ideas and dedicate their day to serving was just so powerful. You could feel the energy vibrating in the room. The speakers made a great point at well that shifted my perspective: MLK day is about a celebration of his lasting and on-going legacy more so than mourning.
I have truly shifted both my perspective on MLK day as well as learned about the impact of MLK himself. I had always felt as if the day were a time to be mourn over both the loss of a king and those who inhibit growth of a community. However, it is more about encouraging to continue the fight for rights in today’s era. This depth of understanding is important to every aspect of my life. A deeper respect has been rooted in my mind for those around me. Determination, leadership, and service can go further than you will ever know. These are all concepts we have learned before, but reading is a much different than experiencing the impact firsthand. As MLK said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”