First Impressions


By Justice Leman (New York)

Being here at Summit Semester presents the question, “what have I gotten myself into?”. My peers are excited and full of energy. We rarely sleep before midnight, boost ourselves with caffeine for class, and raise our hands with endless pressing questions.

Welcome Home

Stepping foot into the dorms on the first day, I read the list of faceless names of soon-to-be roommates. But soon the familiar face of Tripp Almon, director of Summit Semester, greeted me, exclaiming, “Welcome home!”. Although this joyful greeting seemed easy to dismiss, it stated Tripp’s intention for us as students living together in the upcoming months. Tripp asked us to view each other with the respect given not only to friends but to siblings as well. Eventually, the hope is to become a cohesive family, to self-govern, learn, and work together in community.

As this is an educational gap-year program, we’ve discussed Christianity and politics with Kevin Bywater in our class time. Mr. Bywater is a self-proclaimed, “Charismatic Calvinist, with none of the spiritual gifts.” Teaching on the old testament and Abrahamic and Levitical laws, he walked us through the way Jesus came to fulfill and not destroy God’s law. Through his encouragement to read and re-read the books of the bible, we learned to relax and gain “thin layers of familiarity” in our studies. Mr. Bywater also spoke on modern-day politics, referencing biblical history, such as Joseph’s rise to power in Genesis and Israel’s journey to the promised land. Although the past two weeks have seen 36 hours of class time, it seems like our discussions together only scratched the surface of this vast topic.

Work Crews

Each of us, sharing some similarities and differing in many ways, hold a desire to learn and work together. Through the weeks we have “work crews,” in which we continue a tradition as old as Semester of maintaining the property; weeding, staining, sanding, and vehicle maintenance. To the Grounds Crew’s delight, 34 fresh pairs of hands make light work. Before each crew, we congregate for a devotional and discuss the importance of work and the good stewardship of the earth.

Here I am, at the epilogue of my first two weeks, the prologue of the next 10. Both unsure of, and excited for, the adventures, conversations, trials, and struggles of living in community. But what I can be sure about is the knowledge and wisdom that we’ll gain together through our experience here.