I have been on campus at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta for 4 days now and it has been nothing short of an amazing experience so far. It is one of the foremost Historically Black Colleges and I feel lucky because it is a deep cultural experience for me especially given all the racial tensions going on in America right now. I feel I will have a deeper understanding of this nation’s history when I leave due to the wealth of knowledge that I will be exposed to. Clark is situated in the Atlanta University Center District. This sprawling 6-campus university boasts of four institutions prominent in the civil rights movement including Morehouse where Dr.Luther went for his undergraduate degree. An all male college (Who knew!)
Today, we had our orientation and something happened that will stay with me and hopefully, I can implement my learning when I get back home. We were introduced formally to everyone who will support this program for the duration of it’s entirety. The President of the college, faculty, librarians and teaching assistants. It is truly inspiring to know how much they are all vested in this program. The energy and effort that went into putting it together is unbelievable. But what stayed with me was; the chefs and the security personnel. I have been lucky to have attended several institutions and never in my life have I been introduced formally to the people in charge of food and personal safety yet ideally these are the most important facets of life. And the pride and honor with which they were introduced was amazing. You could tell that they take pride in their work not only because they do a good job (which they do) but because even the people that they serve take immense pride in their jobs as well.
And then when I think about it, everyone I have met so far is extremely proud of their jobs here and it shows. And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. From the president of the college to the waitress at the local bar. The customer service is much much different as a result. I have been around some and this is the best customer service I have experienced to date. I was so moved in a shoe store after having the lovely sales lady follow me around for almost an hour and being so generous about it that I gave her a bracelet I’d carried from home. I was and still am in awe. I must do better and so should we all. Whatever we are doing, even if it’s not something we like. We must take pride in it and it must show.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Article by Mandela Washington Fellowship Fellow Sherifah based at Clarke Atlanta University