“Peace through understanding.” This was the short motto for my People to People Student Ambassador Program I participated in during the summer of 2008, and I love this short quote- I find myself applying it to everything these days, especially faith.
My name is Jenna and I am now a third year Journalism (Public Relations) major at Cal Poly with a minor in Global Politics/International Relations.
Being a Christian is a huge part of my identity and I am thankful to have grown up with structure but slowly been given independence to make my faith my own (not yet baptized). I like to say I have an intimate relationship with God and that my faith is probably stronger than ever (although I can drift away or get distracted, just as in other areas), rather than saying “very religious.” I was raised in a solid family with two older brothers and all of us attended a First Baptist church in our small community regularly. After randomly ceasing our attendance when I was around 10 or so I think, our family’s religious practices sort of fizzled out. In my tiny tiny hometown of Burney, CA (near Mt. Shasta), the Word of Life church had really strong youth group outreaches and programs with fun adventure summer camps and other activities, which I guess could be considered a very moderate version of Pentecostal. Since grade school, I have been very involved (on and off) in this youth group and still visit when home on breaks and sharing my spiritual growth with our friendly community.
I know I certainly don’t have all the answers, and of course I still have lots of questions myself, but I AM sure of various spiritual experiences and the life I have been incredibly blessed with. No matter what faith, an attitude of gratitude makes the world brighter. I have been challenged, brought down, and doubted by others in my faith walk but I DO know that being questioned and constantly learning and thinking about why we hold tight to our values is something worth affirming and backing up. So although those conversations are hard and scary, I believe they can open the eyes of my heart to what others have experienced or believe as well. There have been a lot of injustices between the church and society today, and I think of myself as an agent of change as I bridge the gaps by listening, being a friend, and expanding on peace through understanding.
As I mentioned my student ambassador trip, that summer program was 3 weeks throughout France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. With my family, we’ve been lucky enough to have traveled to the Caribbean/Cayman Islands, Belize, Mexico, Canada, around the country, camping up in Oregon, and uncountable trips to southern CA to visit family. This is my first time in the UK and I am loving the British accents, the musical theater, and talking to the locals! I am really soaking it up and stoked to actually be LIVING here temporarily 🙂