INSPIREd at Washington State University
The Interfaith House, specifically the INSPIRE program, has been very good to me. The non-descript former sorority house turned coffeehouse/religious community center is the closest thing I have to a home in Pullman. INSPIRE is a Christian themed program held every Wednesday evening during the WSU school year. It is designed to give college students a place to put aside the worries of school and work for a little while to explore themselves and their relationship with God. Oh, and there is a free meal, singing and fun activities usually thrown in, too.
INSPIRE does not pass out flyers in the streets or buy flashy advertisement space to attract students. INSPIRE relies upon an unofficial word-of-mouth campaign. Attendees are always encouraged to bring friends, but rarely are organized attempts made to recruit new members.What makes this word-of-mouth campaign so successful has a lot to do with the collective attitude that permeates a typical INSPIRE program. Anyone who walks through that front door looking to attend his or her first INSPIRE meal and program is instantly welcomed with open arms by everyone else who is already assembled. I can speak from firsthand experience about this warm reception newcomers receive.
I first attended INSPIRE in August 2009 – the beginning of my sophomore year at WSU. I received a phone call the day of the program from a good friend of mine. He told he was attending a weekly Christian program and wanted me to attend with him. I was dubious. My upbringing included very little spirituality; Christian or otherwise. But when he told me there would be free food, too, I was hooked. Free food is very important to the average college student. When I walked through the front door of the Interfaith House that day, I did not realize I was stepping into a new phase in my life. I was immediately greeted warmly by people I had never seen before. After eating my fill, singings songs I had never heard of before and participating in a weird Biblical version of “I’m On A Boat,” I was not quite sure what I had signed myself up for, but I knew that I liked it. I promised to return again, although I was unsure how consistently I would visit.
I didn’t miss an INSPIRE program my entire sophomore year.
I am in the middle of my senior year now and I still have barely missed any programs other than due to scheduling conflicts with work. I have never experienced anything quite like INSPIRE before. You never quite know what you will get when you put 20+ college students in a room together, regardless of what sort of program you have planned – that spontaneity helps make INSPIRE so wonderful. Since that first day, INSPIRE has become my rock at WSU. When everything else goes wrong in my life, I know there is one thing to look forward to every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. I know I will always find people there who I can identify with, who are willing to lend a sympathetic ear and a helping hand. Additionally, the program has led to a great spiritual awakening for myself. While doubt remains an integral part of who I am as a person, I now understand that doubt is a necessary part of faith. INSPIRE is helping me shape a sense of faith I never had before, and I’m not the only one. INSPIRE is helping many other wayward pilgrims besides myself. It has by far been the greatest part of my college experience. I’ll be forever thankful to all the people I’ve met at INSPIRE – they will all hold a special part in my heart for the rest of my life.
Filed under: Campus