From the very structure of a Redeemer townhouse to the Wi-Fi password, dorm life is a big aspect of the Redeemer community. In a world where dorm dinners are standard practice, what are some other ways our Redeemer community can look to be hospitable? Three students shared with me their stories of hospitality at Redeemer that may be helpful for other students looking to practice hospitality.
First, a new take on a classic dorm dinner: having a professor over. For those of you wondering how this feat is accomplished, second year Jared Meijer explained about how his dorm has so far had two professors over for a meal. “Basically it started with our dorm talking a lot about different teaching styles,” Meijer said, “especially from professors who teach the same courses. That, along with the fact that we just have some curious guys in our dorm, is why we started inviting them over. Just to pick their brain, you know?”
The result was two dinners with two different core professors. The boys were able to learn more about their professors’ lives outside of Redeemer, and ask any burning questions they might have, all over a sophisticated meal of tacos. Meijer did recommend getting some sort of baseline acquaintance before inviting them over, however, as each individual professor will inevitably have their own views or boundaries to consider. That being said, if you have any thoughts about having a prof over, he thinks you should try it. The results: a better connection and understanding. Meijer continued, “After the dinner a lot of the boys would go up after class to talk with them and ask questions. They wouldn’t have fear or a sense of reservation about talking to them, because of that connection.”
On the subject of gaining better understanding in a way that’s different from a typical dorm dinner, second year Emma Gringhuis told the story of running a Bible study nearly every Wednesday morning for almost two years now. It started as a conversation with some friends she had just met who felt the same desire to be intentional about community in a way that supported and challenged each other.
“Dorm devos is a dorm experience,” she explained. “Wednesday mornings encourage us to step out of our dorm bubble and be intentional about inviting other girls into our space, even if it’s just our porch for a morning. You don’t always know who’s going to show up, but that’s the fun part. It’s open and everyone knows that.” Having multiple dorms involved made the experience richer for Gringhuis, because there are more experiences and perspectives to draw from. Girls who have walked through struggles suddenly find themselves with someone who’s gone through the same thing, and can find comfort in that. Gringuis continued, “A lot of people are looking for deep community, but it mostly ends with just talk—it’s important to go past that and act on it. It’s so important to be a cultivator of deep community because it invites people to do the same.”
So what does dorm hospitality look like for someone who doesn’t live on campus? Third-year student Elijah Bouma was a commuter student for his first two years at Redeemer but now lives on campus after getting closely connected with a dorm last year. “Commuter life is very different,” he said. “Before living in a dorm I had never walked the path, never been to the dome…” Talking with Bouma, the sense was that as commuters, it is hard to get involved in the Redeemer community, simply because much of the time there’s an unawareness to what goes on. Bouma explained, “You don’t know who anyone is. You just go to classes and leave. I didn’t even know Redeemer had intramurals until my friends told me.”
Bouma also shared his advice for commuters who were feeling the same way as he had: “There’s stuff out there; there’s more to Redeemer than just classes. You’re not here for everything, but if you’re here for things like intramurals or communal, those sorts of things make Redeemer Redeemer, and that’s how you meet people.” Of course, this comes with the understanding that for some commuters it is unrealistic for to be at Redeemer for events simply because they have lives away from school, and Bouma admitted that his experience was fairly unique as a commuter. However this also means that as a Redeemer community we should be open inviting in those of us that don’t live on campus.
Hospitality doesn’t always have to be a big gesture. It certainly can mean inviting them into your home or your life, but sometimes it can also be the simple act of sitting next to someone you don’t know. Either way, it is an integral part of growing community here at Redeemer.