MLK Day in the Nation’s Capital
Danya Nayfeh, a first year Georgetown University law student, has a day-to-day schedule full of demanding classes, reading material and writing assignments. She spends a few minutes every day running or in the gym to keep herself sane, but her days are at times so hectic that she has to remind herself to eat.
However, one thing she didn’t forget was to spend a few hours helping others in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King and the day of service named in his honor.
"We must be willing to make sacrifices to see progress," Nayfeh said. "I try to always keep in mind that I'm studying law because I want to use it to make life better for other people. So, community service is a top priority, even when classes feel overwhelming".
Nayfeh, 23, was one of dozens of Georgetown University students, who traded their pens, books and schedules for plastic gloves and containers full of Clorox cleanup wipes so they could clean and prepare rooms and desks at Educare, an Anacostia early childhood learning center for infants and toddlers from birth to age 5.
The Georgetown students were responsible for getting the school cleaned so when the children returned to school after their break, they would be in a sanitary environment.
The students, who arrived bundled in jackets gloves and scarves against the freezing temperatures, cleaned each classroom and hallway by wiping off tables, windows, chairs, equipment and toys. They also sanded down benches outside of the school with sandpaper so they were safe for the children to sit on.
“As students it is important for us to understand the issues that immediately surround our area,” said Sarah Johnson, a continuing education student at Georgetown and a Washington resident for over 12 years. “The more you understand, the more you can build solutions. Hands on volunteering is something that you can’t learn in the classroom”.
The school first opened two and a half years for children of low-wage-earning families. It is now a home away from home to 158 young children. The 14-classroom school, which is partnered with surrounding elementary schools, gets students prepared for their next level of education.
“I love children and I want them to have a clean environment to learn in,” said Mellissa Yang, a Georgetown graduate student studying real estate. “It is my personal responsibility to give my help to others.”
Following the clean up project, the graduate and Law students were bussed to Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, which is a middle and high school in Northeast Washington. There, they met with scores of other Georgetown students who were doing service project in honor of King in Ward 7.
The students celebrated in the school’s gym with music, dancing and basketball games of basketball. They networked and reflected on their day of service.
“Martin Luther King Jr. was about social justice, legacy and care for others,” said 21-year-old, Isaiah Jones, a sociology major and African-American studies minor who worked at one of the other sites. “MLK Day correlates with Georgetown’s key principles, which is service for others.”