by Kelly Webber, Summer Director

For the first time in several years, students staying on campus for the summer have a residence life team to form and strengthen community. Residence Director Paula Hoffman is spending the summer with Assistant Resident Director Josiah Peterson and Residence Assistants Ines Yoon and Tetsuo Takahara. Josiah is a Christian Ministry student from Taylor University. The summer in between junior and senior year, students complete a practicum in a full-time ministry. Josiah wants to work in higher education, so he contacted Messiah to see how he could get involved. His sister graduated from Messiah with a degree in Education. Ines is an international student from South Korea. Ines’s brother graduated from Messiah with a degree in biology. She studies Human Development and Family Science. In addition to serving with residence life, she’s also a tour guide and office assistant for admissions.

Over the summer, Ines appreciates the relaxed ambiance of campus. “It feels a little bit different because during the semester it always feels like there’s something looming over my head. Even when I’m socializing, I’m thinking of that. I think it’s nice over the summer because you get to me more present.” According to Ines, residence life, or any job where your job is connecting with people, is “more of a lifestyle than it is a job. It’s hard to separate being an RA from the rest of life. That becomes really strange at times because it’s hard to find that balance. I’m a student, I’m a student leader, and I’m also an RA.”

Josiah’s favorite part of working for residence life is building relationships. “I have the opportunity here to experience other people. Because I’m also a college student, I can relate. I’m enjoying the connections I made from two different universities and found a lot of interesting similarities.” Ines’s favorite part is hearing stories. “I like talking to people. I like stories. I think I learn a lot through people’s stories and how they experience life. Summer gives me the opportunity to be intentional about learning people’s stories.”

Josiah’s favorite memory of the summer so far was his first time with the staff, figuring out that Ines doesn’t like his jokes. Ines said, “He’s expecting a reaction, and you don’t want to react,” but begrudgingly admitted, “I appreciate them.” Josiah responded, “The best part is them not knowing it’s a joke and thinking I’m serious.”

Ines and Josiah plan on spending some free time reading this summer. Josiah is reading Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. “This book changed my view of God. The author’s life story is incredible. He was an alcoholic, yet he always believed that God loved him. Brennan Manning taught me what grace is.” Ines is reading Betweener Talk: Decolonizing Knowledge Production Pedagogy and Praxis by Claudia Moneira and Marcelo Diversi. “I’ve been learning more about education with a post-colonial mindset. I’m in America and I do my research in English. If all the research is done by white people, I won’t be able to learn about my culture or people of color. This book is deconstructing that.”