Community Refugee and Immigration Services, or CRIS, is a non-profit organization that aids immigrants and refugees, and eases their transition into the community. Every year, CRIS works with various schools across the Columbus community, providing children with mentors in the area. In addition, CRIS will paint inspirational murals throughout the city schools. This past Sunday, a small group of International Affairs Scholars, including myself, were able to lend a hand in the painting of a mural at a school in Westerville, OH. The initial plan was to be outside painting a mural for everyone to see, but unfortunately, the weather was against us. In only a couple of days notice, a few of my peers were able to design three new murals for some of the interior walls of the building.
When we arrived at the school, we were welcomed by an employee of the school, and offered some free food. After eating, we began to get to work on our murals! It was really a fun program to participate in, as painting is a very therapeutic activity. Working alongside my peers was also a great experience, and quite humorous, as the majority of us are not artsy whatsoever. Although we splashed paint all over the place (yikes!), they could not be more thankful for the work we had done. On two walls, we painted the skeleton of a tree, in which leaves with inspirational messages will be placed. These leaves are meant to be taken by students who may need encouragement throughout the day. On the other wall, a hand was depicted, with an inspirational message from Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
I never have more fun doing service than I do when partnering with CRIS on their murals. It is an event I have come to look forward to every year. Service is not just a task when I’m with CRIS; it may benefit me more than anyone else that will get to witness the painting. As I had learned prior, these mural events typical bring more joy and less stress into my life. After talking to the employee who was overseeing the project, I quickly realized how much these murals mean to the students in the building. The mural will be meant to help those students who do not necessarily have people fighting in their corner, and if they need hope, they know where to find it. In addition, they are subtly reminded to always be kind to one another, which is indeed a beautiful message for any community to broadcast.
CRIS is definitely an organization that ties in the values of the University, Honors & Scholars, as well as specifically the values of IA. It represents a way to become globally engaged while also giving a helping hand to the community that surrounds you. It allows us to build our leadership skills outside of the classroom. Moving forward, I look forward to working with CRIS again due to enrichment it bring to my life and experience at OSU.