The Posture of a Neighbor: Building Relationships through Story

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Kathryn Van Zanen


During my sophomore year at Calvin College on the eastern reaches of Grand Rapids, Michigan, I transitioned from the residence halls, alive with energetic eighteen-year-olds, to a creaky century-old parsonage on the west side of Eastern Avenue, down which emergency vehicles make nightly pilgrimages and sirens provide the evening soundtrack. I was living in Project Neighborhood, six homes gathered under the banners of intentional living, community engagement, and Calvin College residence life. The program attracts justice-minded students and mentors; each house comprises a covenant that centers on concerns of, among others, Christian discipleship, environmental sustainability, local activism, and food justice. The most significant component, though, is the commitment each house makes to serve its neighborhood in partnership with a local organization. My house, Peniel, which means “to see the face of God,” received support from Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, so we worshipped there on the occasional Sunday, spent a few Saturdays at the food truck, and participated in its tutoring program on Thursday nights.

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How to Cite
Van Zanen, K. . (2013). The Posture of a Neighbor: Building Relationships through Story. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research, 2, 1–3.
Reflective Essays