Looking Back at Act Five: An Alumni Viewpoint

Arissa, Act Five ’20, writes about how she’s looking back on her journey with Act Five 10 months later.

10 months ago, myself and the others in the first cohort of Act Five finished our journey together. It had been an inspiring year of growth, learning and adventure. Since then I’ve started school at Redeemer University, living on campus and studying English Literature. When I reflect back on Act Five from here, I can see many ways in which I’ve taken what I learned during that transformational year into Redeemer and the rest of my life.

I find myself longing for truth in everything that I do. While curiosity has always been in my personality, this longing to explore more, understand deeper and see clearer into life really opened up for me in Act Five. Being in such an honest and open community really helped me see the kinds of communities that I want to build around myself. This has really translated into the friendships I’ve started to form at Redeemer this year and the people with whom I surround myself. 

In a more practical light, Act Five has taught me how to live in community. I have an awesome dorm at Redeemer, and the things Act Five taught me about living with people who aren’t your family has been precious. Like learning how to not avoid conflict, to take breaks from each other when needed, and to take time for community life so we can bond and grow closer. 

Act Five also changed my relationship with nature. The first big trip offered is a canoe trip into the wilderness where you learn to strip down walls and become vulnerable with each other. Nature was constantly revisited with A Rocha and with Coldwater again later in the year. For me, this resulted in a relationship with nature that was based on vulnerability, growth and rejuvenation. Nature is where I go to connect with God and others, and to stop and take a break from the craziness of life. After breathers out in the wilderness at Act Five, we would step back into our busy schedules with fresh spirits. This has become a pattern in my life since. I find myself going off on backpacking trips, random midday hikes or hour long drives just to see some stars or some untamed piece of forest. 

This connects with something else we had talked a lot about in Act Five – slowing down. I really learned how to stop and wonder at the things that were happening around me, both big and small…to “stop and smell the roses!”

I was worried about going to university after a year out of high school; I was worried it would perhaps create a weird dynamic between myself and students who had chosen not to take a gap year, but that turned out to be an unfounded concern. The life experience that Act Five offers is something that I was really grateful for this year, like learning how to cook or live with so many others or to take intentional time to sit with God. 

With Covid affecting so much of our lives, the friendships I made and the lessons I learned in Act Five have become doubly valuable, and I’m so grateful that God directed me down that path. 

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