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Chris Jenkins | Jennifer Belcher | Dante Benedetti | Enter Sharing Stories

Chris Jenkins is 28 years old and from New York. He is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Journalism, and will spend the summer of 1999 as a reporter in North Carolina.

Explain the significance of community in your life.
Community is one of the reasons why I get up in the morning. Life for me is to be lived for the benefit of communities of people -- lived for how individuals can learn from each other to understand their own sense of who and what they are. Much of this has to do with responsibility, being accountable to other people. Without communities, there wouldn't be much of a point to my existence.

Is cultural identity important to you? Why?
Understanding cultural identity is important because it helps define some of the experiences that I have endured in my life. Being able to reference my African-American culture helps me make sense of certain parts of the world, helps me bond in a communal sense with others who have shared some of the same expereinces I have. But my cultural identity is only part of who and what I am -- an integral and important one -- but only a part nonetheless. I define myself in other ways outside of my cultural identity, and those are important, too in my definition of self.

How do traditions play a part in your life?
Traditions, no matter how small or large, are important to me in helping to stay focused and balanced. Traditions, with family, are like reminders of the past, tangible markers that help bond me with those that I love.

Is keeping ancient ways alive important? Why?
Ancient ways are important, but they must be placed in context. I try to embrace the present past and future equally in order to remember where I have come from, understand where I am, and think about where I'm going. Ancient ways fit into this mode in helping ground who I am with tangible experiences. But I think it's important not to dwell or live solely for ancient ways.