City Step Promotes Children
You can hear the pitter-pattering all over campus. And soon after, you can actually see them--a group of Harvard undergraduates dancing in and around the various dining halls, interrupting our meals and leaving us with that song in our heads: Ooh...ah...City Step, City Step...ooh...ah. The efforts of these Harvard students (especially in the last few weeks), however, also leave us with the belief that there is much more to be appreciated in life--even life at Harvard--than academics and athletics.
Now community service can also become an integral part of the definition of succeeding at Harvard. Community service has become a medium of valuable education which these City Step volunteers have had the privilege of experiencing and will share with us this weekend. The invaluable moments which these students have experienced provokes one to question the role of education at Harvard and the need for a larger integration of community service in the Harvard curriculum. Harvard should focus more attention on programs such as City Step and promote the notion that some of the more valuable knowledge which is acquired in college stems from efforts outside of the classroom.
On the surface, we know City Step to be primarily a community service program whose volunteers teach children enrolled in Cambridge public schools the art of dance. Its greatest escalation in the year comes around this time when the teachers and the kids unite and perform various dances for the Harvard and Cambridge communities. But there is much more to City Step than a couple of spins and turns around a dance floor.
City Step is a year-long program that attempts to convey the importance of self-expression, unity and community involvement to Cambridge kids. It is a difficult and strenuous effort for the Harvard volunteers. The difficulties that City Step volunteers encounter are many. The time commitment is one, but so is dealing with the problem of uniting students from many different public schools in the Cambridge area. The kids don't always get along, and the initial challenge comes in attempting to make all of the kids friends and have them trust each other. The task is formidable but teachers use techniques such as blindfolded trust games and role playing as remedies. It is the pride of the teachers and a benefit for the kids to experience the inevitable affection and friendships which result from a single cause and purpose: social unity.
City Step concerns itself with teaching children something that has escaped many of us: the art of self-expression. It allows young children the opportunity to express themselves in non-traditional ways. Dance is one of these ways. Much of the dance this weekend spins off small theater acts which address some of the more serious social concerns young children are facing today, such as violence and drugs. Through City Step, young kids are able to express their fears and their concerns for these social ills. Very seldom does this society allow young children the opportunity--much less the forum--to express their opinions about certain situations in society. But City Step has given life to the voices of some of the most important people in our world today: children.
Have we in our 'old age' forgotten the importance of this kind of education and participation in our society? The fact that as Harvard students we obsess over athletics and academics and nothing more seems to indicate so. In order to gain some of the valuable education and experience in life, we need to step outside of the classroom and learn to deal with what happens outside of a lecture hall or a lacrosse field.
The efforts of Harvard students which will be somewhat more visible after the performances this weekend should not go unnoticed. The pride and successes to which we will be witnesses should provoke us to ponder our individual needs and responsibilities. We should become active in our communities by expressing what we feel and by accepting the feelings of the children who secure the existence of these communities in the future.