Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned a better America than the one he lived in from 1929 to 1968.
In 1994, Congress marked the third Monday of January as the only federal holiday recognized as a day of service.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision, IRIS students participated in the MLK day of service.
“Since MLK Day is the national day of service, its important for our students to give back to the communities that have welcomed them for their ten-month span,” said YES program assistant, Gina Zoss.
Students volunteered at a variety of community locations including their local nursing home, museum, public library, high school concession stand and nursery.
Maria Mbura, IRIS exchange student from Tanzania, chose to volunteer at a nursery in her host town of Cambridge, Iowa, because she enjoys working with children.
“It’s going to be so much fun with them, I just like to help others and I love kids,” Maria said.
IRIS student from India, Unmesh Datar, volunteered at his host town library in Marshalltown, Iowa. Instead of using Martin Luther King Jr. Day as his day off, Unmesh used the day to volunteer at the library, something he does on a regular basis.
Noor Maslamani, IRIS student from West Bank and located in Boone, Iowa, volunteered at the Boone nursing home where she spent time visiting with the residents and even learned how to crochet.
“My favorite part is getting to know more about history by talking to them,” Noor said.
Dooter Aondoakaa, from Nigeria, living in Harcourt, Iowa, and Jannat Al-Nadhir, from Kenya, living in Pocahontas, Iowa, had the same idea of volunteering at their high school concession stands during the home basketball game.
IRIS exchange student Erza Mendrofa from Indonesia volunteered at Opportunity Village, an organization that helps disabled people become active members of the community in her host town of Clear Lake, Iowa.
“I feel really happy every time I meet clients and help them doing something,” Erza said. “The best thing is when they smile and say thank you.”
These students used MLK Day as a day on instead of a day off. IRIS requires community service as part of the program because by working together, we can get one step closer to building a beloved community.