Today’s guest blogger is Nick Luken, a second-year student at The Ohio State University, majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. Nick graduated from Roger Bacon, a Franciscan high school in Cincinnati, in 2012.
When I talk about how college is different from home, I usually only talk about three things: the college party culture, the independence I have living on my own, and the responsibility I have to take care of myself. I guess this makes sense, because these three things represent the biggest changes I’ve gone through since I went away to college.
But I tend to overlook one big change–that for the first time in my life I’m living in an urban area. I grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, so living within walking distance of downtown Columbus is a completely new experience for me. One of the more striking things about living near the city is the high number of extremely poor people I see every day.
Just about every time that I leave my dorm to walk to class, I see at least one person dressed in dirty clothes standing by a street corner, asking for spare change. At least once a week, I see a man sifting through the dumpster in our parking lot, looking for pop cans to turn in for cash. Not a day goes by that I’m not somehow reminded that right next to the eight million dollar Evans Scholars House where I live, there are people who are just barely getting by.
The hardest part about it is interacting with these poor people. When I see someone begging for change, I usually want to help, but I can’t always give them anything. But even when I can’t give, I try to give them what I think they need even more than money: love. If I can’t give them anything, I tell them sympathetically, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can give you anything,” instead of just passing by and pretending not to notice them. Sometimes I’ll stop to have a nice conversation with one of them. They seem to appreciate that even more than spare change.
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, so even when I can’t give money to these people, I do my best to give them the eternally more valuable peace and love of Christ.
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