Instead of applying for graduate school, or a service term with Mennonite organizations such as SALT and MVS or landing a job that will look good on my resume after graduation, I’m looking forward to working full time at a well-known bakery and cafe here in Goshen, Anna’s Bread.

After finishing high school, I chose Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas, to begin my college career. After earning an Associates degree from Hesston I made the decision to transfer to Goshen College to finish my undergraduate career. And around the same time I decided to come to GC, my family also made the move Goshen.

It hasn’t been very hard to fall in love with Goshen, both the city and the college over the past two years.

Even after spending three months in China on SST, where the cities were in millions and coming back to Goshen, a city of around 33,000 was a little bit of a shock, my love of Goshen continues to run deep.

While the energy a city of 1.2 million gives off doesn’t quite compare to a city of Goshen’s size, there’s enough about this city that has me wanting to stay following commencement.

In particular, through a conversation with Myron Bontrager, the owner of the Electric Brew, I’ve been struck by the deeply rooted value the community of Goshen holds in having open and welcoming spaces.

Spaces that invite a diverse group of people, but yet seek to remain safe for all.

In my conversation with Bontrager, he told me while the Brew draws in “very very liberal people,” he’s also seen someone with a “Make America Great Again” hat on, along with atheists and even his Amish cousins.

It’s spaces like the Brew that I’ve come to spend lots of time in and the connections I’ve been able to make with people like Myron Bontrager that make staying here in Goshen for another year feel right.

All that said, I want to acknowledge that as safe and welcome as I feel both here at GC and in Goshen I realize there are some who do not.

Since coming to GC, I have been encouraged through classes and my peers to notice the reasons why I feel welcome and others do not.

I look forward to taking this sense of awareness of who feels welcome and who does not with me in the coming year. In doing this, I will continue to seek out the spaces in the city of Goshen that are unfamiliar and initially uncomfortable.

I look forward to continuing to be challenged by those who are different then me as well as being nurtured by those who I am like.

I invite you to do the same in the various spaces you find yourself in throughout the year and years ahead.