Last month I had a new, but awesome experience! First, for some background, I grew up Mennonite and, yes, I did a lot of Mennonite-y things! I went to all of the youth events that I could. I loved things like the junior high youth event, Know Jesus, put on by Hesston College, junior high youth event, Snow Camp, put on by Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, and the Mennonite Church USA high school youth conventions during the summer. Convention, especially, was a week-long-super-exhausting-but-always-high-energy event.
What does this have to do with my new, but awesome experience? Well, at Know Jesus and Snow Camp, the people that attended were mostly from around the area. Snow Camp was in Colorado and Know Jesus was in Kansas. Most of the youth that I met there mainly knew about Hesston and Bethel College, just like I did. However, when I went to Convention, it was a whole different story! There were booths set up from Bethel, Hesston, EMU, CMU, Goshen, Bluffton, and yes I might have forgotten some others. I visited all of the booths that week, but when I left, put the other colleges out of my mind.
My new, but awesome experience was at Menno Haven Camp in Illinois this January, where I was a representative from Bethel College. Katelyn Melgren and I were the only representatives who did not know anyone else. Many of the reps started out at Hesston College and then went to a different Mennonite college. But, they were all still friends. As Katelyn and I maneuvered our way into this already tightly knit circle, I began to see the beauty of each of the colleges they were at. I had this weird sense that I was missing out on something awesome. I wanted to be able to experience places like Goshen or Bluffton, but also be able to experience Bethel. Previously I have not had any desire to experience other Mennonite colleges. I am NOT SAYING THAT I WANT TO LEAVE BETHEL, AT ALL. It is more that I want to know the people at these other colleges. Honestly, I got to know the above people for only two days… and that’s all. But, I already miss the fun of bringing community together, especially across college boundaries.