Preparing The Next Generation
People come to New York City from all over the world to realize their dreams and find significance. Peter Trautmann, campus director at NYU and NYU Poly, engages students on their search: “Jesus offers the best option for reinventing yourself. We have to rise to the challenge and show that Jesus is the best among the competing options in New York. We have what everyone is looking for in Jesus.”
The Navigators at NYU sponsored an art outreach to freshman in the fall. The outreach concept was created with artists in mind. Students were asked to paint their spiritual journey on a blank canvas. The border represented their upbringing (Blue = Jewish; Red = Christian; Green = Muslim, . . . ); the center of the picture showed their current beliefs (White = Uncertain, which was a popular choice). They added symbols to represent their hopes for their spiritual growth in their next four years at NYU.
The outreach resulted in 280 students illustrating their beliefs through art. “Students were eager to share the story behind their canvas and these conversations allowed us to connect with new students in a meaningful way,” says Trautmann. Navs at NYU is hoping to create an art installation on campus displaying the paintings.
The Navs also connected with 1,927 new freshman coming on campus this year through a drawing for two Broadway show tickets or 10 pizzas if students filled out a spiritual survey. A record proportion—27 percent of the students—indicated that they would be interested in investigating the Bible with other like-minded students. Nav Staff and student leaders were eager to follow up with these students.
In addition to discipleship opportunities during the school year, the Navs Collegiate ministry encourages students wherever they are attending school to spend their summer and spring break time strategically, offering mission and internship opportunities that stretch students.
Last year 23 NYU students spent their spring break week in Haiti, partnering with a local church. Their time was spent in a combination of service work and visiting people in homes with local church members, to pray for needs. They met an older woman who had lost her house and family in the earthquake five years ago. She was living in a tent, but what she valued most was their prayers. “Experiencing the contrast between living in the richest country in the world and spending time in Haiti, the poorest country, is challenging and eye-opening for students,” Trautmann shares.
The New York City Urban Immersion Summer Training Program (STP) takes advantage of the context of New York City as a world leader in communications, filmmaking, publishing, music, fashion, and finance. Students work in paid internships, live in community, and participate in training together. Christians from diverse disciplines talk to the students about the inspiration of their work and how they live out their faith in their vocation.
While the number of connections with students is amazing, Trautmann cites the power of individual relationship as key to impacting students. “This generation of students is fatherless and thirsting for personal connection. When I offer to meet one-on-one with students they are amazed that I would invest time in such relationships. What is central to The Navigators DNA is exactly what millennials are longing for—real relationships in a digital world.”
These relationships are bearing fruit in New York.
For more information about the Navs at NYU visit my.navigators.org/nyu