The Big Event: advertised on campus as a way for students to give back to the town that puts up with us for eight months out of the year. While that’s accurate, this day means so much more.
Early this morning, it didn’t look like the day was going to start off well. It had snowed overnight and it was 28 degrees. Many projects were being called in as cancelled, but ours was still on. Since I’m not a big fan of cold weather, I wasn’t too pleased. But our group, ten of us from the hall, went to Owen’s for breakfast. While it was really because we were all starving, simply eating a meal together gave us a great start to the day.
We skipped the opening ceremony because of the snow and went straight to our project site around 10:30. When we arrived, the couple, J.S. and Debbie, invited us inside. We, college students, complete strangers, were welcomed into their home with no questions asked. They gave us a list of yard work that included mulching, raking leaves, and picking up sticks. Debbie even told us that if we got too cold that we could come inside to warm up a bit.
Well, after about an hour, Kayla and I took her up on that offer. We literally could not feel our toes. While we stood in the kitchen warming up, I started looking at the pictures Debbie and J.S. had on display. I had an oddly deep thought during all this: how often do we forget about the people around us? Living the college life often causes us to forget that there are actual residents here who live actual lives and have actual jobs and do things outside of the university. This couple in particular has a daughter who graduated from Tech, they have two black labs, and J.S. is an engineer and Debbie works for the alumni association. I may never see them again, but temporarily, for a few hours today, we crossed paths. I am so happy that our meeting involved me, and the rest of my group, making their lives a bit easier.
Isn’t that how we should be toward everyone we encounter? We don’t know what kind of impact we’ll have on their lives or if we’ll ever run into them again. We should have a heart of service for each and every person, even if it’s just giving them a smile.
Debbie and J.S. provided sandwich fixings for lunch. Now, things have not been so peachy on the hall lately. This semester has been rocky for everyone personally and it has definitely affected our hall dynamic. I’ve been pretty depressed about this because we got along so well before. I can’t stand when people aren’t happy with other people, especially when I’m friends with everyone involved. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when the majority of us signed up to participate in The Big Event together. So while we were waiting to wash our hands, I was a little nervous about how this meal would go. This was the first time the majority of us had eaten together since Thanksgiving.
But you know what happened? They started calling me “mom” again, asking me to make their sandwiches. (For the record, I didn’t.) We picked on each other, just like we used to. All ten of us squeezed in around a four person table. We talked for the longest time about summer plans and goals for the future. Then we started talking about what April 16th means to each of us. The ninth anniversary of the tragedy is a week from today, and it was nice to know that yes, we could joke with each other, but we could also discuss serious topics too.
Ut Prosim, Virginia Tech’s official motto, is Latin for “that I may serve.” But what makes the Hokie community so special is that we are given so many opportunities to serve together. And I think that’s exactly what P4FE needed: the kind of community bonding that hard work and a common goal brings.
This was the 15th year of The Big Event at Virginia Tech. With around 10000 volunteers each year, it makes my heart happy to know that maybe this even has shaped impacted a group, a relationship, or even just a single person like it did for us today.
Ut Prosim: That I May Serve.
Virginia Tech: That We May Serve Together