A Place to Rest
Ahenfua Aboagye-Nyame reflects on the embrace of the Study Center community and the rest she has found there.
Despite constant invitations from my small group leader and friends, I went my whole first semester at UVA without ever stepping foot inside the Study Center. Once I did, I realized I didn’t know where in the building I was allowed to traverse and felt awkward occupying space. The very first time I went to the Study Center, I was too scared to go into any room other than the front room. It was also the middle of the day and for some reason no one I knew was there, so I just sat in the front room and waited for someone I knew to walk in and show me where it was socially acceptable for me to go.
Since then, my relationship with the Study Center has evolved and my experience with its ministry has been transformational in my time at UVA. At first, I would stop by the Study Center whenever I wanted to see friends or didn’t have much work to do. Eventually, it became one of the main places I did my school work and a part of my daily routine. I loved studying at the Study Center because it meant I was never alone! Although I’m an introvert, being around people whom I love made the amount of time I spent staring at my computer screen bearable. Allowing myself to get distracted with conversation every few hours was worth it. I have many fond memories of conversations in the back room and the kitchen lasting way longer than I anticipated, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. The community I found in the building was one of the greatest support systems I had at UVA outside of my small group. I have probably cried on the steps of the patio more times than I can count, but there were always people nearby to share my burdens with and pray for me.
Most importantly, being a Study Center frequenter allowed me to learn how to rest and not idolize productivity. I so easily bought into UVA culture and became obsessed with my grades and making sure I was putting in enough time and effort into my school work. Thankfully, I had peers who would remind me of where my worth comes from. They led by example, showing me how to have a better relationship with my school work. Structures like Exam Snacks and Class Dinners reminded me that rest and food were worthwhile and necessary. The bubbling conversations of the back room reminded me that I didn’t need to neglect my relationships and community for the sake of maybe getting a better grade. Bible studies and prayer groups in the prayer room were often exactly what I needed to get through my day or week.
It was a blessing to befriend the Study Center staff and the members of the residential program. I felt guided and cared for by the staff and knew that they were always around for fun conversations, prayer, and support. I always felt welcomed when I accidentally, or on purpose, crashed resident programs and hangouts. I have so many memories hanging out in the Stud basement and the Yellow House with my resident friends. I was often avoiding my work or looking for someone with whom to talk through my anxieties, and I always found someone who was willing to do that with me.
In my time at UVA, there probably is no other building I spent more time in than the Study Center and I love that! I am truly going to miss stopping by every day and seeing all the loving faces of the Study Center community.