Solving for y with the Help of a Pilgrimage

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Erika Storvick’s Imagine Fellowship was an exploration of spirituality. For the first portion of her fellowship, she walked the French part of El Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage. She followed this experience with two weeks at Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery near Bordeaux. She ended her fellowship with a week at Taizé, a Christian monastery in Burgundy.

Storvick loved math in high school and considered majoring in it at college, but religion classes at Luther taught her to look deeper, which encouraged her to double major in religion. “There’s something different between attending church services and engaging your faith in an academic setting. Luther’s Religion Department taught me to question and look deeper and challenge assumptions people make about religion,” she says.

Storvick’s fellowship proposal combined a lot of the interests she’d developed through Luther’s religion program. “I wanted to learn what a pilgrimage was and how a spiritual journey can bring people together,” she says. “At Plum Village, I got the chance to engage with what I’d learned in my classes on Buddhism.”

Storvick learned a lot about the power of community during her pilgrimage. “I appreciated meeting so many different people on the journey,” she says. “Every night in each hostel or gîte, we had a chance to share why we were doing the pilgrimage, and a powerful realization for me was that even if we didn’t speak the same language, we interacted in a meaningful way. I learned a lot about the importance of community and how so much can be learned from someone you don’t necessarily identify with.”

During her Imagine experience, Storvick went from a Christanity-centered pilgrimage to a Buddhist monastery, from walking up to 30 kilometers a day to sitting still and meditating four hours a day. She reflects, “The monastery was all about mindfulness and being present in the moment, but that was an attitude also prevalent in the pilgrimage. Sometimes you’re just thinking, I have to get up this hill.”

If you had $5,000 to design a learning experience for yourself anywhere in the world, what would you do? This is the question posed to the 10 students that Luther selects as Imagine Fellows each year. To explore giving opportunities at Luther or to help support the Imagine Fellowships, please visit

Erika Storvick '16