In her speech at our Monday Martin Luther King convocation, Reverend Kanyere Eaton said that every individual has the potential to achieve something extraordinary. Another point Eaton made along with this was that college is a time where we recognize our own potential.
Until attending college, Dr. King had believed that all white people were the same. Until then, all of the white people he knew degraded, publicly humiliated, and offended people of color. And all of them did so without a second thought. It wasn’t until Martin Luther King attended Morehouse College and Crozer Theological Seminary that he recognized the inaccuracy of this preconceived understanding. He came to know new people, he established new friends, and most importantly he recognized his desire to serve humanity, which eventually led to the development of the Civil Rights movement we now honor him for every January 19th.
At the beginning of the school year, the campus was introduced to the Campus Ministries theme, ¡Encuentro! (encounter). This idea involves more than just shaking the hands of people sitting nearby during Chapels.
To encounter something means to both experience and establish a connection with it. Sometimes these encounters can inspire us and help us move one step closer to recognizing our own potential. These encounters can occur on campus: we can be inspired by what a visiting speaker had to say on the Martin Luther King study day, or by the return of a professor to the teaching staff.
We can be inspired by someone we just met just as easily as we can be inspired by someone we have known for years. Hearing a story about something a friend encountered on SST or seeing a person discuss something they have acquired a passion for not only allows us to get to know people in a different way, but also allows us to discover new things within ourselves.
Encountering places has the potential for inspiration as well. This can be as easy as venturing into an academic building on campus you’ve never had a class in, or visiting the new soap and home goods store that opened up in downtown Goshen. New places also have a tendency to lead you to new people, which can lead to friendships you never imagined forming, or opportunities that become important for your future.
So as the week winds down and Martin Luther King study day comes to its end, I’d like encourage you to encounter your surroundings. Make an effort to greet people you walk past on campus and don’t know very well, explore a new store opening up downtown, or even take a stroll down the Millrace and see what it looks like during the winter months.
We are all fortunate enough to be furthering our education, and even more fortunate to be doing so in a place as unique as Goshen. So let us take the time out of our busy semesters to encounter something or someone new within the campus or community. It will not only provide us with the opportunity to discover new things about others, but also to discover new things about ourselves.