XASS: Let’s start with the basics. What year are you? What’s your major? Where are you from?
Faith: I’m Faith, I’m a junior, and I’m an international relations major, but it’s been a journey. I came in wanting to do international relations, explored lots of majors, and then came back.
XASS: So what is it about IR that draws you so much?
Faith: In high school, I studied abroad in France for a year, and that was something that God just really set up. So, actually, it’s something that’s always been on my heart, and it almost baffles me that other people don’t have that same tug to go to foreign countries and learn other languages because I really, really love languages. It’s so much on my heart, I think that I forgot that I could pursue it academically at first. It just felt like something that I was gonna do with my life no matter what.
XASS: So do you have a bucket list of countries you wanna visit?
Faith: Oh, man, all of them! Okay, but actually, as a kid I slept with my atlas and it really was, like, all of them. But right now, I think I really, really want to go to Israel. And I really, really want to go to Finland. I’ve wanted to go to Finland for a long time. I just applied to go to China. So those right now, oh, Morocco too.
XASS: Awesome! So what non-academic passions do you have?
Faith: I love to dance and I did gymnastics in high school very briefly – starting at gymnast retirement age because my family really wasn’t into sports. I was tumbling with toddlers and really passionate about it. But I hurt myself. So then I got into dance because dance is lower impact. When I moved to dance I did ballroom. I’ve been on the salsa team at Stanford for two years and I went back to tumbling in the spring and am a cheerleader now because of that – I get to combine partner dancing (in a way) with performing and stunting and tumbling.
XASS: So what’s it like being a Stanford cheerleader?
Faith: Our smiles aren’t fake, actually. Fun fact. It’s a really, really fun and awe-inspiring experience. And it’s actually taught me a lot about God – about trusting other people and what we were created for – to have joy and to worship and be advocates.
XASS: Interesting! So you’ve been at Stanford three years now. Has it been a net positive for your faith? Negative? Complicated?
Faith: So positive! It’s almost like I don’t know where I started because I’ve just grown so so much. Something I came into Stanford with was a desire to grow my apologetics. I come from, like, a very intellectual church, and so I kind of had the basis of a Christian worldview. But since college, I truly discovered C. S. Lewis. But also just living on this campus and running into things like postmodernism and realizing that being persecuted is not necessarily what you always thought it was when you were listening to missionary stories as a kid has taught me a lot. Christianity has been a huge part of my Stanford experience so it’s difficult to separate my all-around growth from spiritual growth.
XASS: Awesome. So what’s next? Do you want to become a diplomat or do you want to work for an NGO? What journey is IR taking you on?
Faith: I’ve given that to God. I spent last summer in Kenya, and when I was there, I actually felt like I needed to come back and render myself, like, objectively useful. I decided that the way to do that was through becoming a doctor. If I could have a superpower, it would be healing. So I told myself, “Of course, you’re gonna become a doctor!” But I worked through that need to be in control, and, last year realized that the journey is the destination. But also you can have multiple dream jobs. And so I’m ready for life to take me a lot of places, and I think like diplomacy might be one of them. Missions too. I really want to work at the UN in Geneva. I think that stems from having visited there in high school. Ultimately, though, I think I want to be a writer.
XASS: Really? Of fiction or nonfiction?
Faith: I love fiction. I really love fiction.
XASS: You have a favorite book or author or genre?
Faith: I have a problem with superlatives. It’s really hard for me to name favorites. But I love Le Petit Prince. So I come back to that one a lot, and I think I’ve probably given away 10 copies at Sanford. Speaking of which, the What Christians Believe that I picked up from Chi Alpha my freshman year. I have given away or loaned that book out probably as many times too? Oh, C.S. Lewis could be a favorite too.
XASS: Do you have a favorite verse or passage?
Faith: I think Jeremiah 29:11. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And I think specifically this week I really needed to come back to that passage because it’s been me doing a lot of planning. But really, God has it all planned out.
XASS: Final question, the classic Chi Alpha spotlight question. Faith, are you in a relationship?
Faith: It’s the only one I rehearsed: no.
XASS: Just no?
Faith: Stanford’s been a little bit of an emotionally exhausting road. And so, no. Yeah, right now it’s quiet.
XASS: Are you open to development on that front or are you just thankful that it’s quiet?
Faith: There’s this cliché saying on Pinterest that says something along the lines of, you’re gonna be so lost in Jesus that they’re gonna have to find Him before they find you. And that’s what I’m hoping happens.