Unexpected Community

Throughout my time at Summit Semester, I’d use one word to describe the community— unexpected.

I’ll be honest: when I came to Summit Semester and heard them call us a “family,” I scoffed at the idea that at the end of three months, I’d be that close to a group of strangers. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I found the strangers that I sat with the first night becoming my friends and then my family.
Throughout my time at Summit Semester we have had days that were hard—days that we weren’t sure what to do. However, every day where that occurred was paralleled by the intentional kindness and love of some of our friends here. Summit Semester is like a little piece of heaven, a place where you can share your deepest thoughts, questions, or doubts. It is a place where you laugh with each other over a meal, swing dance in the rain, and were growing from strangers into a family is expected.

As a Semester family, we had a lot of time together–three months of almost continuous contact. There were moments where it got hard, where alone time felt scarce; however, when the three months began to come to a close, it began to feel like we didn’t have enough time with each other. That feeling is when you know you’ve grown from strangers to family. My mindset now is a complete contrast to my first night here when I couldn’t imagine these people becoming my family. Now, I cannot imagine my life without them.

As a community, we learned one thing: hard doesn’t always equal bad. There were many hard things that we did. Almost every hike we went on felt impossible at the moment, but encouragement from people made it feel slightly less impossible. Adventure days were some of the most beneficial days for our community. As we hiked a mountain or explored a canyon, we were forced to work together and rely on each other. There were times on those adventures that produced some of the most amazing friendships I could’ve asked for. Laughing on your way up a massive sand dune, jumping into an ice lake after a long trek up a mountain, and even leaving cliff bars behind for your friends to find on a hike made these days enjoyable. That might seem silly at first, but as you experience the community for what it was and what it becomes, you realize that those seemingly mundane acts of kindness and servitude shaped us into a family.

The Semester community has been one of the most influential factors in my life. Every hardship was met with a communal outburst of love. Summit Semester shifted my view on community from a possibility to a necessity. As I continue my life after experiencing the blessing of Summit Semester, I long to feel this community again. I long to create it where I can, to experience another glimpse of heaven until I’m reunited with my friends there, for all eternity.

Connor O’Rourke was born and raised in Andalusia, Alabama, but he loves the cool Colorado weather. Connor has plans to pursue a degree in Biblical languages from Moody Bible Institute and to become a textual translator. During his free time, Connor loves to read, long board, and talk about Jesus. Connor also half-jokingly states that he will be Summit’s next president, so watch out for that! While at Summit Semester, Connor is excited to read bunches of books and to learn about God.