(Note: The Project IX ministry team focuses on mentoring high school freshmen.)
I am so thankful for Project LEAD and how it is able to impact an individual, a campus, a community, and the world. When deciding what Project LEAD team to be a part of, I knew that I had a passion for investing in individuals with the hope to even mentor them. So naturally, I was steered towards Project IX. I am not an extremely outgoing person, and I knew from the beginning it was going to be hard because I would be forced to start conversation. Project IX specifically requires a person to be able to accept failure and rejection. However, when an event goes well or a connection is made with even one of your freshman it then becomes so worth the effort.
Initially, going into this role, I expected them all to love me and want to go to everything just because I said they should. However, this is not the case. I would text all of them to come, but then only one would be able to go. At first I was disappointed in myself, but I then realized that first of all, it gave me a chance to connect with the individual versus trying to give attention to the whole group. Second, I had to realize that these freshmen have lives outside of these events which included lots of tests, sports, sickness, etc. Something that is so encouraging is understanding how even the effort of a quick text of, “How are you?” or “Anything I can pray for you?” will impact them. One girl, in particular, texted back at the end of the conversation saying how much the text meant to her. This did not take much effort from me but I was able to connect with her and improve her experience at WA.
Project IX, if developed correctly, can also be used to mentor your freshman. Originally, nothing happens until you reach out. The freshmen do not believe that seniors would actually want to talk to them based on stereotypes. This is why it is a great opportunity for WA to do something different and care for them, not looking down, but instead become friends. It takes some time building a relationship but if you show you care they will reach out too. Another girl came to me asking for advice about how to not be angry at her parents. It is a great opportunity to mentor them while also challenging yourself and forcing you to grow.
I am so excited about the relationship I am building with the girls and am now expanding into a Bible study. I have had spiritual discussions with a majority of the girls and wanted to expand on these. At the same time, I needed to start a discipleship group for my LEAD Bible class. I immediately thought of my freshmen because I wanted to take the next step of our friendship and deepen it by meeting together in a Bible study. I love all these sweet girls and am so excited for how we will grow together in Christ.
Not only did I build relationships with my freshmen, but also the other seniors who are involved with Project IX. The team really bonded over similar failures but then also rejoiced together when telling stories of success. I am so grateful for my experience in Project LEAD; I have grown spiritually, and in character, as I have been able to see God work through the girls and myself.
Annamarie, Class of 2016