Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.
Sarah Rinsema-Sybenga serves as the executive director of Community enCompass, a community and neighborhood development nonprofit that is committed to transformation “from the inside out” in Muskegon’s core.
She gets to live, play, work and worship in the core of Muskegon. Her world is small and centered and grounded, and she loves it.
Before, she lived in Japan and traveled Asia: taught English to hundreds of Japanese students; slept on tatami mats and in Buddhist temples; ate sushi cross-legged; drank Asahi and green tea; biked hundreds of miles of back roads; and learned what being “in the minority” means.
Lessons from that world constantly seep into experiences in this world.
Biggest career break?
A community development internship with World Renew in Bangladesh fell through at the last minute, and I was offered an internship in Muskegon instead. What was a huge disappointment turned into one amazing journey that I continue to learn from.
Every time I step on the stage of the Frauenthal with the musicians of the West Michigan Symphony and Scott Speck.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
“It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.” -Wendell Berry
How did you make your first dollar?
Picking strawberries in the fields of Iowa. Seven cents a pound, I think.
I’m doing it!
If I were president for a day, I would . . . ?
Offer $500 mini-grants to every city in America that would match it to close down their main streets and host a neighborhood picnic.
Last book you’ve read?
Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior”
Last thing you Googled?
How to remove red Kool-Aid from a white shirt
Your worst habit?
Biting my fingernails. . . . Yep, never dropped that middle school habit.
To unwind, I like to . . . ?
Jump on a trampoline with my kids.
Bicycle trip through Vietnam
Person you most admire?
My one and only sister, Rebecca