Each year thousands of InterVarsity students around the nation participate in InterVarsity Urban Projects. Urban Projects help students apply what they have learned through Bible study in a way that is difficult to match. And while their experiences during the summer are typically powerful, the real testimony often comes years later after their graduation ceremony.
I recently chatted with Tiffany Wright, who participated in the Chicago Urban Project in 2005, about her experience and how the summer she spent in Chicago continues to impact her life today.
How did you get involved with the Chicago Urban Project?
As a student, I had many friends involved with InterVarsity and heard about their experience with different urban projects. Because I was already interested in teaching in an underprivileged community, the Chicago Urban Project (CUP) seemed to be the perfect fit.
What’s your most vivid memory from the Project?
My most vivid memory was a silent retreat that we did one day. I had never done one, and I loved going away, not speaking at all, and spending time with God. If I ever get the time, I definitely want to go on one again.
How did your experience shape who you are and what you are doing today?
My experience with CUP broadened the scope I had of ways that I could make a difference in a community, and it showed me that my gift was connecting with the young women in these communities through mentorship and spiritual adoption.
Say more about what it means for you to mentor and spiritually adopt individuals that God has placed in your life.
After college I lived in Cleveland for a time, and I worked at an afterschool program called City Mission. There I worked with 7th and 8th grade girls, helping them with homework, teaching them how to be successful young women, and most importantly teaching them about Jesus. This is where I met my goddaughters. They were actually two of my more challenging students, but God gave me ways to connect to them. Now they spend some of their summer, their spring break, and any other time they have free with us. We basically fill in any gaps they might have in parenting, which is different for both of them.
What advice would you give to other Urban Project alumni?
Just keep your eyes, hearts, and minds open to the ways in which God wants to specifically use you, and don't base your calling on someone else's call. Communities need all different kinds of ministry to really turn them around. God will show you where you are needed.
What’s next for you?
My husband and I recently moved back to Chicago so he could pursue an MBA, and I’m currently taking caring of our one-year-old daughter full time, while continuing to be a godmother/sister to the three women God has brought into my life.
Photos - Top: Tiffany, center, and goddaughters; Bottom: Chicago Urban Project Team 2005
To read more alumni stories, go to http://www.intervarsity.org/get-involved/alumni/alumni-stories.