Monday, January 17, 2011

Trying to make Dr. King proud

25 years after one of the most devastating moments in the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. remains one of the most celebrated figures in modern American history. His assassination was a near-paralyzing blow to the entire movement, but his ideas and principles resounded too deeply with the social psyche for the legacy to be permanently erased. The champion of racial equality, Dr. King fought tirelessly for the removal of segregation in all of its wicked forms. In addition to his civil rights efforts, he was also a passionate proponent of helping others in the form of service, which he preached about as a minister as well as something he encouraged all of his followers to embrace.

Take a quick look at the philosophies of Kurt Hahn, founder of Outward Bound, you'll notice the emphasis on community service and it becomes evident that he and MLK would have found some common ground had they ever met. In fact, it's entirely conceivable to imagine the two sitting down for dinner, sharing ideas about how to have a positive impact simply be offering a helping hand. Hahn might start the conversation with insight such as,

"We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school’s primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others."

To which Mr. King might enthusiastically add,

"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

As interesting as this exchange seems as an illustration of both leaders' points, we are more concerned with implementation. Every year, we craft courses that just might make Martin Luther King, Jr. proud - countless students have come to Costa Rica and spent an afternoon harvesting sugar cane, repairing houses, distributing food, teaching English, and providing safe drinking water. Promoting these cross-cultural service activities are, and always have been, a serious commitment of ours.

In fact, as more and more Girl Scouts gear up for a summer of adventure in Costa Rica, many of them will be dedicating their off-season solely to completing multiple service challenges. As a destination partner with our organization, they have done much to serve the communities that play a crucial role in our operations. See our students in action:

So whether you're listening to the top MLK tribute songs or getting goosebumps from watching his speech videos, don't hesitate to make even a small service contribution in his honor. We encourage you to try to make Dr. King proud.

Happy MLK Day from Costa Rica Outward Bound!

No comments: