by Do Hyun Kim
2015 MVS Scholar, Harvard College
I attended the 2016 Summer Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago, and it was one of the most transformative weeks of my life. From start to finish, the trip was filled with plenty of firsts for me: staying at a hostel, exploring Chicago, contributing to a mosaic mural, volunteering at a V.A. hospital, participating in the Chicago Stand-down, going on a cruise, and even taking a taxi.
The trip was very well organized and there never was a dull moment. Meeting the Elks members was also a bigger treat than I could have imagined; it just so happened that one of the members I spoke with was a university professor of engineering, and I have since been in contact with her having wonderful discussions about my interest in bioengineering.
Everywhere we went, we were met with hospitality and gratitude, and I felt proud to be a part of the Elks group. I also developed a greater understanding of what it means to serve; my definition of service dynamically changed throughout the week and my experiences from this program will shape the way I serve my community in the future. I began to understand the importance of indirect service, and how incredibly rewarding it could be. There truly is no better way to learn the meaning of service than by trying the different types of service available, and this program helped me achieve that.
What made this trip even more worthwhile, however, were the people with whom I spent the week. I think Creed Bratton from The Office said it best: “No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.” The scholars in the program came from all over the country and had different backgrounds, interests, and beliefs, but yet we were united in our goal to contribute to our communities and make the world a better place to live. Within a week, we became extremely comfortable with one another and soon became very close friends. As I write this blog, weeks after the trip has ended, I am still in contact with the friends I made in Chicago. This experience and all the lessons that came with it has been a memorable one that won’t soon be forgotten.