Senior send-off has come and gone. Our senior send-off. Wow, it still feels very surreal when I think about it. (We're not supposed to be seniors yet...)
Anyway, as tradition goes, every senior goes up to accept a type of "award" and give a little speech about their thoughts on graduation and life and such. For those of you who know me pretty well... I hate public speaking. I mean, in front of a group of 20 or so is okay, but in front of all of AIV? Even though I know everyone, it still felt very scary. I went up there and rambled about being an international student and finding CCF and how it became my home and leading small groups and I don't know what else. I had thought of many things to say in my mind but once I was standing up there, my mind went blank and I just rambled. Sigh. I should've prepared more, but since I can't go back and change what I said, I'll write what I wish I had said.
It was funny that Senior Send-off was in the Vandenburg room of the League, because I attended my first large group at CCF in the room directly across the hall. I remember being approached by Rachael Ng, and talking to her for a long time in that hallway. Irene was writing name tags that day, and shooed us in because large group was starting. I remember Jeff Liou introducing himself and telling us freshmen that if we stuck with CCF, we would be able to welcome their new baby (Emma!) with them in January. We had an icebreaker where we had to find different people to do things with you (like give you a piggy back ride) and other things. I remember meeting so many new people, and it was quite overwhelming! It was also the place where I met Jerry, one of the people who has changed my life. We went to the post-large group activity (bowling... at that bowling alley where my small group went this year!) and ended up in the same car AND bowling group. We talked for a long time, and it was one of those monumental days that you just remember.
I remember crazy freshman days with Betsy, Sophia, and Spencer. We may not hang out as much anymore, but so many of my freshman year memories were with these 3. :) We would hang out at Bubble Island until 3 AM and we got kicked out quite a few times. Instead of going home and going to sleep, we would go to Newberry and chat in the lounge. I remember on my birthday freshman year, I invited so many people from CCF and had the biggest birthday party I can remember. 35 people at the Brown Jug. That night, I also went to the Alg to play Monopoly, and I got the snow I had so wished for. Jerry walked me home and we sang "Indescribable" while walking. It was 5 AM by the time I got home. Oh, those were the days.
My time in CCF/AIV has not been without heartache, though. I remember going into sophomore year kind of bitter and disappointed, because I felt that after freshman year, people just didn't care as much about you. I don't know if it was because I was an international student or because I'm more introverted, but I felt that the CCF upperclassmen (back then) only reached out to the freshmen that were more outspoken, more friendly, and more sociable. I can't think of a better way to describe it, but I felt that because of the way I interacted with people or something, people didn't want to reach out to me as much. Maybe they felt scared that they couldn't relate with me. Back then, there was only one other international student in CCF, and I just felt very bitter. I also hit sophomore slump - HARD - partly because I just felt very left out of everything. I wasn't that close with many people in my class back then, and I also lived in a single (bad combination) and I think I just felt very resentful towards CCF. I felt that people only cared about me because I was a freshman, but after that, they weren't obligated to reach out anymore. I didn't let anyone know about these feelings until senior year (this year) and it's been a good time of healing and restoration in my heart and in some of the relationships with these upperclassmen. I think, though, that because this is what I went through, when I was a sophomore, I made an extra effort (or at least, tried to) to reach out to ALL the freshmen, not just the louder and more charismatic ones. I remember being so excited to see more and more international students in AIV, and I continue to pray that AIV will keep expanding as a welcoming community for international students!
It's funny how my award was the "most likely to win a Golden Apple award", because if it weren't for CCF/AIV, I think I would've missed God's calling in my life to become a teacher. I came in as a freshman not really knowing what I wanted to do, and I was just confused. Through training events like Cross Training, Urbana 06, and other events, I felt God strongly calling me towards education, and more specifically, urban education. Through the years, God has used many Intervarsity books and things to further confirm this, and I'm now headed to the ELMAC program at U of M, also through God's grace and provision. CCF/AIV has had a huge impact in this aspect of my life, and I just wanted to reiterate how important and life-changing training events can be for all of you! (I can imagine Laura smiling right about now) I would love to talk to you guys more about figuring out career/calling if you guys want. :)
For those of you who are freshmen and sophomores (and I know I mentioned this in my talk, but didn't get around to saying all I wanted to say) - the north campus ministry grew to having two small groups when I was going to be a small group leader during my sophomore year. I remember at CFW when I was initially placed in West Quad. Perfect, I thought. I lived in Newberry and West Quad was so close by. Convenient and comfortable. However, a change of events led me to being asked to be placed in Bursley. Bursley? I had never even been inside of Bursley. I was excited, yet hesitant and perhaps a little reluctant. Brian Chen was my co-leader, and he knew North Campus well, but I know we both felt a little "eh" when we heard this. I remember that morning I sat in a wooden chair overlooking the calm lake, and I just felt God's peace in my heart. God convicted me that morning that real service is putting down my own preferences and comfort, and going where He is calling because He will always be faithful. That small group (SPAM!) in Bursley that year blossomed, and I will always remember that small group so distinctly because of how God worked in my heart during that year. Margaret, Dan, Jack, Stephanie Ma, Grace Kim, and Joyce Ker were our freshmen, and it was just amazing to see how God really blessed us and came through for us. Starting a small group in a new dorm was indeed scary, but I learned to trust God so much more through that experience. I also wanted to say how cool it was that many of these freshmen that were in my small group went on to many other leadership roles - small group leader, future co-president/fellowship coordinator, starting up their own ministries, and the coolest part was that Dan was my small group leader this year! Amazing how things have come full circle. :D
One last thing I had wanted to mention was to invest your time in people. Yes, college is for school and activities and stuff, and your role primarily is to be a student. By no means am I saying, "Don't study! Hang out all the time!" but seriously, as I look back on my time here, the things that make me smile are the times I had with the people I have come to love and trust so much. Of course, I remember some stuff from classes and such, but the real memories that will stay with me for a lifetime are those with my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Like Spencer said, don't have any regrets - reach out to others and care for peopole. :) You'll be glad you did it!
Thank you, CCF/AIV for a fun and challenging four years, and I'm so glad I get to be around next year too. I'll definitely be visiting!