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