Last week, Community College Initiative (CCI) Program participants studying across America observed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service by engaging in a variety of service and learning activities on campus and in the community.
At Northern Virginia Community College, CCI participants joined their host college’s 11th annual MLK Day of Service event. Some CCI participants served as check-in volunteers to help guests with questions, registration, and waivers. Other participants worked on the event’s service projects, which included making blankets for local children’s shelters, sorting foods and toiletries for NOVA food banks, and assembling kits for local homeless organizations. The day ended with remarks from Virginia Senator Mark Warner.
Meanwhile in Illinois, CCI participants at College of DuPage (COD) joined other COD students to sort food at the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, a facility that serves an estimated 920 families each week. Later in the week, the COD CCI participants were recognized for their service to the community at the college’s MLK Awards Luncheon.
CCI participants at Houston Community College, Scottsdale Community College, and Valencia College participated in and helped facilitate local MLK Day parades in Houston, TX; Mesa, AZ; and Orlando, FL. In Houston, CCI participants joined UNICEF volunteers; in Orlando, CCI participants from Egypt and South African marched with their country flags to showcase the diverse population of their host city; and in Mesa, CCI participants served as parade route volunteers.
Just outside Boston, CCI participants studying at Bunker Hill Community College joined hundreds of volunteers for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event in Cambridge hosted by Many Helping Hands 365 and the Cambridge Community Foundation. Participants made Valentines for local elders, Cambridge veterans, and U.S. service men and women overseas. Participants also decorated clothing for children in homeless shelters and wrote cards to encourage voters in other states to register to vote.
Cohorts also used MLK Day as an opportunity to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement and African-American history and culture. CCI participants at Mesa Community College viewed the award-winning film Hidden Figures, a true story about African-American women’s contributions at NASA. This film inspired the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program to develop “Hidden No More,” an exchange project that invites women leaders from around the world to the United States to examine women’s contributions to STEM.
At Valencia College, participants heard from humanities professor Paul Chapman who spoke not only about Civil Rights heroes such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, but also about less-famous heroes such as Pauli Murray who was an activist, author, and lawyer. Professor Chapman also shared about the local history of segregation and redlining in Orlando.
By observing the MLK Day of Service as a “day on, not a day off,” CCI participants gained valuable insight about values and legacy of Dr. King and the ripple effect of his words and actions within U.S. history, culture, and politics.