by Farwah Rizvi, STAFF WRITER
and Taylor Hoppe, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
BenU held its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast yesterday. A full house of patrons attended to hear keynote speaker Mawi Asgedom recollect anecdotes from his life and how Martin Luther King Jr. inspired him.
Asgedom’s speech started with a little bit of his history. He stated that life had not always been easy for him.
“When I was a refugee in Sudan we lived in a straw and mud hut,” said Asgedom.
He and his family were fortunate to get out of the refugee camp and came to United States. An early lesson from his mother stuck with him: never forget where you came from.
“At first when she said this I thought ‘yeah yeah I want to fit into America not remember where I came from,’” Asgedom recalled.
Asgedom was a sophomore at Harvard when his mother’s words finally struck a positive cord. He witnessed his friend helping someone in need and he remembered how many people had helped him when he was new in America. It was the sense of community that made him belong, not his attempt to fit in.
He believes this is why Martin Luther King Jr. Day is so important.
“It was a sense of community that Martin Luther King taught us,” Asgedom explained.
He finished his speech by giving a simple request.: “Stick your neck out for others and working together we can change the world.”
BenU students took many things away from the event.
“I was very inspired by the Asgedom’s speech, and I want to continue to serve my community,” said Alex Fridge.
BenU freshman and MLK scholarship winner Maryma Zafar wrote an essay about her childhood and the bigoted statements people would make towards her because of her race and religion.
“I was called terrorist and other hurtful remarks,” Zafar said.
However, things changed later in her life.
“As I learned about MLK in high school, I felt a connection to African American people”.
She learned that giving up is never the solution and resolved to accept her differences to do what she can to help others who feel different or alone.
“MLK is so inspiring to me because of his quote ‘whatever you do, do it well,’” sophomore and MLK scholarship recipient Jaime Webster said. “His message taught me to be confident in myself. I feel because of this I have the leadership skills, and I can change someone’s life.”
Students also took action on their words. Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Development, Joan Henehan, organized the MLK Day of Service, keeping up the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day being “a day on, not a day off”.
“Last year over 400 community members and 42 student leaders participated,” Henehan added.
The fair included a blood drive, letters to troops, hospital room decorations, reading to veterans, valentines for veterans, fleece blanket making, build a bear, bird feeders and birthday bags for underprivileged families.
“Benedictine is all about helping the community. This is a great example of that,” comments Edward Price, president of Student Senate.
This is the third year Student Leadership has been part of the event.
“This event is very beneficial. It gets the community and the students involved,” says Rosa Cacucciolo, an Advantage Wellness employee. “It gives me an opportunity to educate people in regards to wellness and help them benefit their lives in a positive way.”
Student Senator Tariq Weaver says there are many positive aspects of volunteering. “It allows you to connect with people you normally wouldn’t.”
He explained that it’s easy to just stay within your close group of friends, but said volunteering provides the opportunity to break down clicks. “Benedictine is cliquish. To break down the cliques, you have to do something different from your normal routine,” he said.