There is something inherently open and trusting within Residence Life relationships. Though we have only been a group for two whole days, I can see how well our staff was chosen in terms of the dynamic we have already established. New staff members feel welcome to share their own residential experiences, returners share the wisdom that comes with specific Boston Ballet experiences, and we all have demonstrated a willingness to learn with and from one another. What is interesting, however, is that such willingness extends beyond the topic of our common summer mission into personal life experiences. Though a few people may dwell on the quieter side of the spectrum, I cannot say that our group has been exclusive in any way, which I find rather amazing. Sure, cliques may form. But as we learned in our training session with the consulting psychologist, cliques have a purpose and we should not try to separate them. If they did not have a purpose, they would have never formed in middle school. They give us a group to feel secure in because of the commonality. It is when cliques become malicious that they are dangerous.
But back to the inherent trust and openness… I am quite excited to see how the rest of the summer turns out. I have high hopes for our staff and what we will become because of the openness and acceptance I already see. Tonight was a particularly interesting (in a good way) night. After dinner, a group of us – five new staff members who are still new at navigating Boston’s public transportation system – decided to find a Dollar Tree based on some hurried directions from a veteran RC (Residential Counselor). It was quite an experience involving missed stops, landmarks with changed names, guidance by the scent of fried chicken, and directions from friendly strangers. But we got there with great joy and excitement, bought a bunch of stuff to use for our residents, and perhaps a few things for ourselves (including a $4 Red Sox shirt from A.J. Wright, which I will wear when I go to the game at Fenway Park in July). I think our successful excursion, without any bickering or catty “I told you we should have gotten off at that stop”, is a testament to the trust we have in each other and perhaps also in ourselves to make it through. When we returned, we decided we would stay at the dorm while the other RCs went to a karaoke bar. We thought we would watch a movie while preparing door decorations, but cell phone calls and missing DVD players canceled that plan. While I waited for the others to finish catching their loved ones up on our adventures, I turned on the tv and watched a special about teenage pregnancy. Reconvening in front of the tv, we ended up having a lengthy conversation about sex, society, and faith. While religion may normally be a topic that is avoided among unfamiliar company, it somehow became a very comfortable conversation. We knew that we were in a safe space to share our beliefs and opinions without judgment. And that, my friends, is a wonderful experience.
I wasn’t quite sure at the beginning of this week what life would be like outside of the Messiah bubble. For once, discussions of diversity during training did not center around race. There is an obvious variety of religious and political views. Just being in the urban setting of Boston presents its own set of differences. But I was most interested in seeing how the dynamics of faith and spirituality change outside of the bubble. I was quite intentional about omitting Messiah College’s classification as a Christian college from my introductions. In an environment where it cannot be assumed that everyone is a Christian, would my faith remain evident through the way I live my life? I have had friends at Messiah tell me that they can see Jesus in me, but sometimes I wonder exactly what they see. Is that just a Christian way of saying someone is really nice? Will my fellow RCs see a nice person, or something more?