The fact that I almost went to a university in Toronto this year, instead of coming to Summit, gives me borderline nausea. I can’t even imagine being somewhere else right now; in fact, I have no desire to even entertain the idea. I knew that when I came here, I was going to meet wonderful people and create wonderful relationships, but I am unable to describe to you the magnitude of my love for the people here. I know that we have only known each other for a month, and perhaps this will sound a touch dramatic, but I feel that some of the bonds that I have formed here are as strong as ones that have been building a foundation for a hundred years.
When I think back to the first day that we all met, it makes me laugh. (And not in a “that was a really funny joke” kind of way, but in a “we were so socially clumsy and inept” kind of way.) It’s an awkward haze in my memory, but from the moments I do remember, I am quite grateful that these people still want to be my friends.
My first interaction (if you can call it that) with a Semester student was with one of the girls who had been at my two week Summit conference in 2013. I saw her at the Durango airport, and when she looked at me, she got really excited and started waving. We walked towards each other, both waving and saying hello and then, just as we were about to meet, she walked right past me and hugged someone about ten feet behind me. I casually kept walking, praying that no one had seen that go down.
Another moment took place, again, at the airport in Durango. I was on a roll. A group of us had found each other at the airport and were waiting outside by the shuttle for more students. We were making small talk and, glancing down, I saw a miniature, pink, doll coat hanger on the ground. And, because everyone knows that doll coat hangers are great, non-awkward conversation starters, I thought that it would be appropriate for me to bring it up. My statement about the hanger thoroughly confused everyone and killed any chance of further, relatively natural conversation for the next few minutes. Sorry.
Even though the first few moments of the semester were weird and uncomfortable, we have managed to make this group of people grow into a sometimes still weird, but amazing, community.
After the first few days of continually trying to impress everyone, in a dire attempt to convince at least a couple people to like you, walls started coming down. Watching everyone come out of their shells has been fascinating. You would be convinced one day that you had someone figured out, only to have them completely surprise you the next. When you live, learn, work, play, and embarrass yourselves together (the latter mostly thanks to Dr. Bauman), beautiful things begin to happen. You get to peek into people’s minds and see who they really are. You get to learn about the intriguing aspects of their being you missed the first few times you looked at them.
So far, one of the best things that I have learned here at Summit has been that God has made everyone with such precision and with such wonderful intricacies, that it is always worth taking a second glance at someone for the chance of uncovering another curious layer of their person. If we always stopped trying to get to know people after a simple first impression, we would miss so much of what God has to offer. He thought out every part of every person and it’s a blessing when we get to see more of what God created.
Life at Summit Semester involves constantly learning about each other and I am in love with it. Relationships can so easily become shallow and weak when you stop asking real questions and stop giving real answers. But no one is satisfied with the surface here. We continually peel and pull at others and make ourselves vulnerable enough to be able to be peeled and pulled until all of the layers have come off and we can experience each other as we really are.
I know that by the end of the semester these people will have had and will continue to have a significant influence on my life. I already know it is going to be extremely hard for us to leave each other and I never want to let them go. I almost had a panic attack last week at the thought of saying goodbye to these dear people. (I had to take a moment and coach myself through some slow breathing.) I can hardly bear to imagine how I’m going to feel when I actually have to leave.
I love this community with all my heart and even though I can’t bear the thought of leaving, I am comforted to know that our friendships are not going to end with the Semester. These people are going to be a part of my family forever.
Reunion in Canada, anyone?
Renee Neufeld joins this year’s Summit Semester class from Alberta Canada. Currently, Renee is considering enrolling at Tyndale University, where she will be pursuing studies in literature and languages. Discovering and then sharing God’s truth is the passion which drives this study focus. While here at Summit Semester, Renee looks forward to continuing to develop her ability to think on her feet and investing in good friendships with her fellow students. When Renee has some free time, you will probably find her enjoying music, reading, or hanging out with a group of friends.