This post is a joint contribution by students Irej Bashir and Amber Baush
Our day began at 7:00 a.m., and after fueling up on too much coffee, we headed to our first destination of the day: Books for Africa. We spent our morning volunteering to help end the “book famine” in rural Africa by shipping donated books to schools, orphanages, libraries, and community centers. At the start, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of books waiting to be sorted, packed, and shipped. But by the end, we had gone through literal tons of books, and yet, no one wanted to stop.
We learned the importance books have in shaping thoughts, opinions, and perceptions both in class and while volunteering. We stumbled upon a southern gem, that happened to be a perfect example: Margaret Mitchell’s famous novel Gone with the Wind. To hold an old copy of the book that changed the way many viewed African Americans, while in the south, was surreal. Learning about it in class was one thing, and standing there, book in hand, was another.
Our next stop was to the Dr. Martin Luther King visitors center and his birth home. We learned about the “daughter of the south,” and a man who had a dream. It was inspiring to experience first-hand the impact Coretta Scott King had on the world as a powerful black woman. We got to see her many honors, awards, and recognition, but most importantly we saw how she and MLK fought passionately for their cause until the very end.
To close it off, as if we had not walked enough, we brought our tired selves to the Aquarium. This was where suddenly, like a group of children, our energy was revived the moment we saw a picture of whale sharks. After scurrying around through the maze of jellyfish and beluga whales, we became one with the penguins, by sticking our heads in the glass domes that were located in their exhibit. There was nothing less than glee coursing through us as we closed the night with a family dinner, where laughter and full bellies were assured.