The students participating in Eastern Mennonite University's Washington Community Scholars' Center program come from a variety of hometowns and have a range of majors – and are finding that group living is a fun way to experience city life. (Courtesy photo)

Along with professional internships, WCSC offers community fun in the city

Although their hometowns – Las Vegas, Goshen, Uiwang-Si and elsewhere – are as varied as their internships – in fields such as histocompatibility, peace education and digital artistry – the 15 students in Eastern Mennonite University’s Washington Community Scholars’ Center (WCSC) program this semester are holding a unique something in common: an address.

Professional internships are at the heart of WCSC, but the program also touts itself as a “community-building endeavor.” The students live in the Nelson Good House in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast Washington D.C., and bond through meals, taking in city life and playing games together.

Group living, said participant Alex Wissler, is an experience that she would recommend “to anyone.”

“It is stressful at points, but overall it is the most fun I have ever had with a large group of people,” she said. “Not only do you build close and long-lasting relationships, but you also learn how to deal with conflict or uncomfortable situations and how to overcome those types of issues.”

“I feel like our group could not have been luckier,” said Lori Armstrong. “Our house is full of kind, respectful people, and even though it is a house of 15, there is still space to have your own time.”

Rose Persinger had been living by herself “and loving it,” but the WCSC arrangement has its upside, too: “You get to experience the city with people you know,” she said – and “there’s always food in the house. We like to eat a lot!”

While the task of feeding such a large group is a challenge in itself, said Kirk Kauder, “living with that many people gives you a lot of opportunities to have fun and people to go on adventures with so that you don’t have to do stuff alone.”

“Cooking together and playing games is a great way to relax and forget about the stresses of the week,” said Destiny Grant.

“It really is great,” said Jerome Jones. “Everything happens at dinner. Every night is a good night with us.”

WCSC, in Washington D.C. since 1976, draws students from Eastern Mennonite University and Bluffton University but has cooperative agreements with EMU’s Mennonite-affiliated “sister schools” and welcomes applications from Goshen, Bethel and Fresno-Pacific students. Read more about WCSC history.

Fall 2018 participants

Lori Armstrong, an undeclared major from Champaign, Illinois, is interning at Common Good City Farm, which promotes healthy eating and environmentally sustainable food production.

Clara Bush, a theater major from Souderton, Pennsylvania, is working at Keegan Theatre.

Didi Gebretsadik, a history and social science major from Harrisonburg, is interning at Catholic Charities, Immigration Legal Services.

Destiny Grant, a Bluffton University psychology major and criminal justice and sociology minor from Belle Center, Ohio, is assisting at the American Psychological Association with data analysis, survey creation and the compilation of licensure data.

Zachary Headings, a communications and writing major and digital media and journalism minor from Hutchinson, Kansas, is interning at Street Sense Media, where he is reporting, writing and editing news stories.

Amber Hooper, a theater major from Mechanicsville, Virginia, is at the Mosaic Theater, where she is assisting the production manager and assistant production manager with current and upcoming shows.

Chanhee Hwang, a business administration and accounting major at Bluffton University from Uiwang-Si, South Korea, is working with loan information at the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF). Read more about student experiences at WACIF.

Theo Jackson, a psychology major from Champaign, Illinois, is working at Christ House, a healthcare facility for people experiencing homelessness.

Paul Johnson, a digital media major from Las Vegas, Nevada, is editing videos and creating digital art at Washington Digital Media. Read more about how digital media majors find challenging internships in multicultural Washington D.C.

Jerome Jones, a psychology major from Charlestown, West Virginia, is an assistant at the Episcopal Center for Children, a day treatment facility for emotionally troubled children and their families.

Kirk Kauder, an accounting and business administration major at Bluffton University from Curtice, Ohio, is working in accounting at the Latin American Youth Center.

Ashley Kilhefner, a social work major and psychology, sociology and history minor from Ephrata, Pennsylvania, is interning at N Street Village, which serves low-income and homeless women.

Rose Persinger, a psychology major from Newport News, Virginia, is a peace practitioner and assistant for peace education organization Little Friends for Peace.

Emma Roth, a theater major and interdisciplinary music minor from Goshen, Indiana, is interning at D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative.

Alex Wissler, a biology major and chemistry and psychology minor from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is interning in the histocompatibility lab at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

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