“There’s a great tradition in the Star Wars community of giving back.” - J.J. Abrams, Director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This quote is seen at the top of Star Wars in the Classroom's page about the “Serve Like a Jedi” campaign. The “Serve Like a Jedi” campain is a relatively new movement that was started by Star Wars in the Classroom, a group of educators who are dedicated to using the Star Wars saga to teach students academic and behavioral concepts. In 2015, teachers from all over the world celebrated May the Fourth by joining together and encouraging their students to help others in the name of Star Wars. Teachers and students participated in all kinds of activities to help others, including raising money for the relief effort in Nepal, making videos to thank teachers for their work, collecting school supplies for students who had none, caring for monarch butterflies, and raising food for the hungry. Last year, I participated in the “Serve Like a Jedi” campaign in a much more low-key way. I decided I wanted to involve more than just my own classes; I wanted to invite the entire school to serve, so I held a meeting after school on May 4th, and the students and I looked at how Jedi served in their galaxy and how we could follow their example of service to others in our own galaxy. My effort was met with moderate success. I had some students who served at food kitchens and others who donated items to local organizations. While it didn’t quite lead to the tsunami of giving that existed in my imagination, our school’s humble amount of giving filled me with pride because it included students from all walks of life, and those that participated took pride in what they had done.
This year, I am mixing it up a little bit. Rather than focusing on the theme of “Serving Like a Jedi,” I am encouraging the students to serve like rebels. I decided to focus the service of the members of the Rebel Alliance and Resistance because both groups are made up of a hodge-podge of individuals with many different talents who unite in order to accomplish extraordinary things. I don’t know if my students can relate to the monastic Jedi Order, but I know that they can relate to being a misfit. They see how Luke, Han, Leia, Poe, Rey, and Finn may not look the same but join together out of a desire to do something good in the world, and our students do the same thing. Despite differences in ethnicities, religions, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status, they join teams and clubs, and they try to spread joy and happiness through athletics, art, music, and any number of methods. We do this, too. Many of us have created “found families” of friends to replace or supplement our biological families, and these friends help us to succeed despite our daily Death Stars and Starkillers.
J.J. Abrams is right. In most cases, Star Wars fans love to give back. I think it’s because we all feel a little bit like rebels. Life can be overwhelming at times. All the work that piles up, commitments that must be honored, disappointments that need to be pushed past, and moments of self-doubt pile up and cause us to feel like we are taking on the TIE Fighter and stormtrooper hordes of the Empire all by ourself. Days like May the Fourth remind us that we aren’t. As we join together with friends and family to celebrate the saga, we stand together and we rebel. We say that the crushing hardships of the world can wait for a bit because we need to Star Wars, and in doing so, we find the solace and support to continue on. This May the Fourth, let’s remember that we’ve all felt beaten down by the Imperial forces of life sometimes, and let’s take the opportunity to not just give celebrate the saga but to give back some of the joy and comfort Star Wars has brought to our lives so that the Force can be with everyone.
How will you be serving like a Jedi or Rebel this May the Fourth? Share with us by referencing us in your tweet at @farfarawayradio.com. You can also join with the teachers of Star Wars in the Classroom in serving by including the hashtag #servelikeajedi in your tweet.
To help you serve, here are a few suggestions for how you can serve in both big and small ways.
- Write an encouraging note to a friend, family member, colleague, or acquaintance that you feel may be struggling in some way.
- Donate food, school supplies, or toys to a needy group of your choice.
- Support our environment by picking up trash or donating time to a conservation organization.
- Create and share some Star Wars art! Use your skills as an artist, writer, musician, or game designer to bring joy to someone.
- Invite someone to watch a Star Wars film or television show with you. Sharing Star Wars with friends is a great pick me up from life’s daily grind. You could even extend the invitation to people you wouldn’t think to invite normally. Maybe you will make a new friend!
Remember, no act of kindness is too small and even ones that seem insignificant might mean a lot to someone.
“The simplest gesture of kindness can fill a galaxy with hope.” - Bail Organa Star Wars: Rebels "Droids in Distress"