As you are walking around campus, what do you see? You see people. No matter their exterior features, we all share one commonality. We were all born and created in the image of God.
The image of God focuses on being relational. The heart and soul for the Bridge and Futures program is to fulfill that exact desire by providing a space for people to get closer to their neighbors. Better yet, we often connect with people who are not like ourselves. More specifically, the Bridge program is an opportunity for students to be diversity ambassadors.
The program focuses on students to harbor their leadership, reconciliation and cultural intelligence skills. The Futures program is another opportunity is available for students who often live far away. Both programs are directed by Rahn Franklin, the Director of Multicultural Student Development.
These programs were designed to be a safe place for people of difference or from long distance locations to gather together and simply build relationships with one another. Nnenna Nwaelugo, a senior, describes the program as friendly. Faith Anderson, a junior, mentioned it was a home away from home. Lastly, Cailey Linn defined it as her family and a safe place.
Each group focuses on the similar drive to have a place to belong, yet both provide different experiences. The Bridge program would be described to be campus-community based.
One opportunity Bridge students had was being able to attend a weekend retreat at Inspiration Hills to focus on connecting with one another. This was a time of team building, relationship growing, fellowship, games, trusting others and pursuing challenges together. There was an immense amount of trust and friendship built after just a day of hanging as a group.
The Futures program is more one-on-one focused. The people who desire to have a home away from home are able to be partnered with a host family.
A host family from the community is matched with a student. Host families can range from being very involved in the student’s life to being involved only when needed, having the option to have a family or person to go to.
Tanya Vaas, the Campus Ministry Administrative Assitant and former host parent, testifies how this program not only impacts the student, but it also impacts the family or host. She described her experience to be life changing.
The student Vaas was partnered with taught her their culture, beliefs and background while she taught the student her culture. Despite her adoptee’s graduation a couple years ago, their relationship never burned out, and they stay connected to this day.
These are just little snippets of what the Bridge and Futures programs are like. They are opportunities for students to build a foundational relationship with peers and community members. If you have any questions regarding the Bridge program, contact Rahn Franklin.
If you have interest in learning more about the Futures program or having a host family, contact Vaas in Campus Ministry.