With balancing family, friends, school and work, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives. I do it all the time.
For example, what did you do this Monday? I wasn’t planning on doing anything to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, until I was assigned to cover the MLK Student Leadership Conference and Resource Fair, called “Hear Our Voice: MSU Student Activism Expressing Dr. King’s Legacy.”
[chan]I’ve always been a fan of King and understand the huge impact he had on our nation and humanity. But I was just too lazy to participate in any of the multiple events MSU offered to commemorate King and his ideology. This particular leadership conference gave students a chance to learn more about the activism that King so greatly encouraged and left me feeling inspired.
The goal of the conference was to allow an outlet for discussion about the nature of King’s dream and how to continue to make his vision a reality.
Bethanie Akins, a merchandising management junior, came to the conference to be active. “I’m part of the new multicultural sorority on campus, and we wanted to do something that supported the ideals that we have,” Akins said.
Participants like Akins attended workshops about various aspects of social justice and activism, as well as a resource fair featuring clubs and organizations available at MSU. Workshop topics ranged anywhere from economic justice to the state of diversity.
Tim O’Malley, a conference volunteer, said he thinks that the conference is important because students can see the volunteer opportunities available, and the event provides an outlet for activism on campus.
One workshop highlighted a panel of student leaders on campus. These students donate their free time and energy to pursue causes that they are passionate about to change the injustices of the world. Each did it in their own way, from joining Habitat for Humanity, to devoting two years to Teach for America, to participating in cultural organizations, but they all utilized their resources and skills to help others.
“What we do is try to eliminate poverty housing in the United States,” Jeanne Chan, a supply chain management senior, said of Habitat for Humanity.
As I sat in the audience and listened to these students describe their contributions to the world, I suddenly felt very inadequate. What have I been doing with my life? It certainly hasn’t been founding Change for Change, an organization that collects loose change from college students and donates it to local charities. Or starting a multicultural fraternity to educate people and celebrate Latino and Chicano culture.
The audience and panel shared stories of what Dr. King means to them and how you are never too young to make a contribution to society. Some may feel like anything we do won’t count in the long run, but the people in the room all agreed that every little bit helps.
Your actions can still have an impact and be worthwhile because a lot of people making little changes makes a big difference, Chan said.
These amazing acts of selflessness inspired me. I’ve been too wrapped up in the drama of my own life to do anything for the good of overall humanity! But maybe I don’t have to go out and start an organization to be an activist. All I have to do is find some time to help out my fellow man and woman, which shouldn’t be too hard because of all of the volunteer opportunities here on campus. Maybe it’s time for me to stop complaining about society’s problems and actually do something about it.
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