Name: Anna Weber
Type of Project: Leadership
This summer I had the privilege of participating in a ten-week summer mission with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) in the city of Chicago. While in Chicago I had the opportunity to build relationships and grow with other Student in CRU during weekly meetings and Action groups. As a part of Community team, I participated in planning group meals and activities that would encourage interaction and friendships between all of the students on summer mission. I also spent time helping support the CRU movement at the University of Chicago by engaging in discussions and sharing with students and staff across the campus.
When I first arrived in Chicago, on June 2, 2017, I was feeling about a hundred different emotions all at the same time. I was overjoyed to be beginning a project that I had spent so many months carefully planning but at the same time, I was incredibly nervous. As I stood outside the airport waiting for my ride into the city, it dawned on me that for the first time in my 20 years of life I would be living on my own, in a city I knew very little about, with strangers that I had never met before. This was a terrifying prospect for me. While living on my own wasn’t totally out of the ordinary for me, because I had never lived far from home my life was always influenced here and there by the thoughts of family, friends, and others. I still had a certain level of dependence in my life that existed. Stepping out of my comfort zone to attend summer mission in Chicago, gave me the freedom to develop independence and gain insights to develop ideas and opinions of my own.
One of the cool parts about my summer that really allowed me to grow as the opportunities I had to meet and build relationships with students from colleges across the country. By engaging in discussion and getting to know each of my peers on the project I was able to learn a lot about backgrounds and experiences that were different from my own. One of the close friends that I made over the course of the summer had grown up in a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. One night over the summer while a group of us were on a long train ride back to our apartment he began to talk a little more about what growing up in this neighborhood was like. As a student from suburban Columbus, I was not well acquainted with what this area was like so it was really fascinating to hear about the experiences of someone who had grown up in the area. He talked about the way that exposure to violence and crime in these areas is a normal part of growing up. This was such an interesting perspective to hear about because it was one that I was so unfamiliar with. Having conversations such as this one throughout the summer was really enlightening for me and opened my eyes to the ways that other backgrounds might be different than my own and how that is able to shape them.Another exciting opportunity that the summer provided me with was the chance to grow
Another exciting opportunity that the summer provided me with was the chance to grow on my own spirituality. Prior to my summer project experience, I wasn’t frequently challenged to think critically about my beliefs and when I did come across challenging questions I had the ability to turn to my close friends and family to help me think through the questions that I had. While I had the ability to do this myself I really had never been challenged to do so and therefore I generally stayed within my comfort zone. The step of faith that I took to participate in Summer Mission with CRU, was one of many that I took throughout the summer that allowed me to grow more independent in my beliefs and to grow spiritually. AS the summer progressed I was challenged by questions from other students on summer mission and I engaged in discussion that deepened my own understanding. I also become more and more comfortable with sharing my experiences with others on my project and throughout the Chicago community during outreach events. By the end of the summer after countless community events, I left Chicago with a deeper understanding of my faith from sharing with others and growing from my own experiences.
While in Chicago I also experienced a lot of growth emotionally. This summer was the first time in my 20 Years that I had ever lived anywhere more than a 20-minute drive from home. This was an exciting experience for me but one that also come with a lot of challenges that I had not ever had to face. One of the biggest reasons this was challenging was because when I experienced hardships I couldn’t go home and “decompress” and while this isn’t something I would frequently do while in Columbus, just knowing that home is only a short drive away can really change a stressful situation. This was probably one of my biggest fears when coming to Chicago because let’s face it, even when you are a college student, homesickness is a real thing folks. It was especially challenging because not only was I adjusting to being away from home but I was also adjusting to a completely unfamiliar city and a whole group of people whom I hadn’t ever met before. Over the first few weeks, I definitely had some days that were easier than others but I learned my way around more quickly than I anticipated and made many friends. The homesickness faded quickly and I was able to navigate the challenges he summer threw at me from, getting a job, to helping plan community events for my peers. It was amazing to see how powerful making connections and friendships with others can make an unfamiliar and somewhat scary place seem like a home. By the time I left Chicago in August I felt like I was leaving my home all over again.
Over the ten weeks I spent in Chicago, I learned a lot about myself and how to grow and adjust to a new setting without all the resources that I am used to having here in Columbus. I grew into a more independent thinker and gained insight from other about things that I hadn’t ever thought about before. The challenges and experiences that I was exposed to will be valuable as I work to make an impact on the world throughout my carreer and beyond. The exposure I had to new and unique backgrounds of others allowed me to expand my worldview and broaden my social horizons. I developed independence in my beliefs that will allow me to think critically about how and why I make the decisions I make and I developed important communication skills that I can continue to use as I pursue my goals. Each part of my growth over the course of the summer has helped refine some of the skills that are essential to helping me become a positive communicator that can effectively express new and innovative ideas. Whether in the classroom or in an office I will be able to draw from my growth during this experience to help me think with a wider perspective that I was able to see prior to my summer experience.