The Act of Thankful Giving

“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” ~W.J. Cameron

There is an underground movement brewing in Florida National University. It’s very subtle. Students gathering, asking, “What can I do to make a difference?” Community service is not a graduation requirement here. With a student body primarily made up of non-traditional students, it was always assumed that such requirements would create undue hardship on students who are already over-extended.

And yet, here they are, gathering of there own accord, looking for ways to assist their fellow students and the local community. Why, if they are so busy, are they volunteering? They all cite different reasons.

For some, it’s the sense of achievement. These individuals recognize the need to put the skills they are acquiring in class to practical application. Education comes from teachers and textbooks, but learning comes from experience.

For some, it’s the desire to create a legacy. They want to leave their mark, to push the boundaries like maritime explorers and prove their world is not flat. Leadership is the ability to guide or direct, but stewardship is becoming the custodian of the community you serve.

For some, it is the reclaiming of identity. In their countries, they were doctors, journalists, or television producers, but here those titles have been stripped away, and they begin again. They build communities of shared experience, redefining themselves in the process. Self-respect grows not from the level of respect given to you, but the level of respect you give to others.

There are many reasons why the students at FNU are joining forces to initiate change. Whatever the reason, it’s inspiring to see them embody the true meaning of Thanksgiving: the act of giving thanks, of returning life’s blessings measure for measure.