Serve Well Blog
Following two years with the Northwest Leadership Foundation's Urban Leaders in Training program, Taylor Tibbs '15 is a program manager for the Act 6 program who is beginning to claim her identity as a person of faith.
Faith was not part of my upbringing. But in part because of what happened at the annual Debriefing and Discernment retreat and partly because of where I work, I feel I can now call myself a spiritual person.
I have never been formally engaged with religion as a practice, and it has always felt very threatening before this chapter of my life. The possibility of being judged because of my lack of faith or engagement of it has been something my mind went to. When I first heard about the Krista Foundation, I thought, this organization is way too Christian for me! But I have found the community, the dialogue, the way we try to explore service, all in alignment with what I already think. Being with the community and talking about faith, it's like I am walking along a path laid by other people, and I'm comfortable doing that now.
At the debriefing, the final discernment activity asked us to imagine what our ideal version of God, the God that wants us to be the best version of ourselves, would say to us. I had a conversation that was weird but also nice. There was a moment at the end when I was overwhelmed by a feeling of calmness which I had never felt before. And I thought that's what God is.
I've learned there is a way to be, a way you can court faith, without feeling like you have to be all in at once. It's like wading in the water and seeing people who are diving in because they have always dived and people who are getting their feet a little wet and people who are kind of like you. When I was interviewing candidates this spring, I met a lot of people who were seasoned Olympians in the water and a couple people who were like, "this is nice, it's cool." I find myself really open to people who are like me in their spiritual journey.
What was stopping me from really exploring spirituality was that it felt like an overwhelming amount of work. I thought that the practice and experience would be heavy. I didn't think I was strong enough to lift it. But after the discernment exercise I thought, nope, I've been doing it! I have been interacting with that kind of energy or entity for a while but haven't been able to name it until I was surrounded by people who could say yep, that's what God feels like. It took being in a physical place and a mental space with people to explore that comfortably.
"During our Debriefing in February, we were given George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From" and asked to rewrite it from our own individual perspectives. What are the places, the people, the experiences that form your path? The result was over 12 poems that reflected our distinct experiences along our service journey.
We realized that the "Where I'm From" poems could become even more powerful if combined as our group's collective journey. "Where We're From" is an attempt to share our individual stories and to recognize the influence of our time together as a group. The stanzas are kept intact, but rearranged with each other's poems to create a single narrative. The poem contains individual poems by Jerrell Davis '14, Taylor Tibbs '15, and Richard Murray '15. We are working on expanding it to include all or most of our Debriefing group's poems.
Ultimately, we hope to create a small, physical book of poetry and invite all Krista Colleagues to share any poetic reflections they have written during their service journey. The feature poem would be the "Where We're From" poem." -Richard Murray ‘15
Where We're From
We are from roots deeper than
the leagues of oceans crossed
by ships carrying Kings and Queens
as means of production.
We are from 5am wake up calls,
scrambled eggs in silk skirts,
payless'd, yet more professional
shoes for grown up girls in public
schools hall ways.
We are from from royalty, humbly borne into
a nation who hated us
and taught us to hate ourselves
But, we are from Love.
We are from hour long conversations
with the copier, with our principal,
with our piece of heaven in the
basement of the beast.
We are from the land of separateness, abandoned.
We are from the Philippines and South Africa,
Or rather somewhere in between.
Consummated in the eyes of the Creator
who made you too;
so We are from Sankofa,
as we reach back to move forward.
We are from downtown, hilltop,
eastside, northend, sixth ave,
skyway, beacon hill, tukwila t-shirts.
We are from Tiya at Tiyo
speaking to Ouma en Oupa,
from first generation to first generation
And now a second
of silence, space, and time.
Estamos Magdalena; unas personas de maíz y la Luna,
y las playas extraviadas de nuestros sueños.
We are from yesterday he was alive,
today we are joyful, tomorrow we
are opportunistic. And little caesars
No necesitamos leer todas las estrellas,
solo vemos a la Luz de los cielos y recordamos,
We hide a connect-the-dots map
of our hearts in our pocket, we pretend
not to do much during the day.
We are from gang signs and privilege;
where Darkness shines
and where we honor the elders,
who remind us
that we are all from the same place,
with different accents.
We are from was, now, and will be.
We are from the grandmother singing,
Planting rice is no fun,
work from dawn
‘til the end of sun.
When the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, decided to integrate service immersion into its M. Div. program, Dean and Vice President Dr. Frank Crouch called the Krista Foundation. The call launched a journey to shape a cross-departmental program that will be key to cultivating intercultural competency among seminary faculty, staff, and students.
In two days of training and one day of one-on-one coaching sessions using the Intercultural Development Inventory, Stacy and Valerie helped staff and faculty grow its intercultural capacity. "We now have a shared vocabulary for talking about intercultural dynamics and a skillset for working with a diverse population," says Dr. Crouch. "This changes our teaching and our policies, makes both more inclusive and welcoming of difference."
"Not everyone can cover such emotionally charged material and let people across a whole range of perspectives and experiences relax enough to learn about the material together and begin to address the realities in our own place," says Dr. Crouch. "We're glad to invite them back again and again!"
Moving from “small town Podunk Montana” to the University of Portland was “a big shock that blew my socks off” remembers Lindie Burgess ‘11. Setting aside her degree in mechanical engineering to open herself to the homeless community through a year of service at St. André Bessette Catholic Church in downtown Portland made her world even bigger. Today she draws on those experiences as program manager for the UP’s Moreau Center, guiding students through mind- and heart-blowing week to three week long service immersion experiences.
Recently a student summarized her 3-week Social Justice immersion in the South in two words: “It sucked.” Angered by all the injustice she witnessed as she learned about the civil rights movement and talked to contemporary leaders, the student felt burned out, overwhelmed, and alone. Her companions on this intense experience were scattering to summer or post-grad activities.
“Witnessing other folks’ experiences marks us, and she felt that she couldn’t handle any more suffering,” remembers Lindie. Drawing on her own experiences as a Krista Colleague with plenty of space, time, and fellow travelers to mull things over with, she suggested that the girl acknowledge the suffering with friends and others in her network. “Right now it’s too much, but if you create intentional spaces for conversation, it will come out when you allow it to.”
Wearing her “Krista Colleague hat”, Lindie helps UP strengthen structures to support and prepare students for their service experiences. It’s significant work, because a majority of UP undergrads participate in Moreau Center programs. Lindie knows that preparing them to step into service is just the starting point. “There is so much need right now for folks to be accompanied, and so much burnout associated if folks are not accompanied, especially when they return,” says Lindie.
Jaleesa Trapp ’14 is the Coordinator of the Computer Clubhouse, teacher of computer science at Tacoma’s Science and Math Institute, and works with the Tacoma Action Collective (TAC), which focuses on police and media accountability. In December, Jaleesa was involved in TAC’s “Die-In” at the Tacoma Art Museum in December. The protest highlighted the near-total absence of artists of color in the exhibit “Art AIDS America”—even though 44% of new HIV cases and the majority of AIDS deaths take place in the black community. Thanks to meetings with the exhibit curator and museum staff, the Museum will include more black artists when the show travels to Georgia and New York this year, and invest in staff-wide diversity training. Last fall, she spent three months in Ghana as part of a graduate class at the University of Washington.I knew that going to Ghana was going to be life changing, but I didn't expect it to be reaffirming. I went with the University of Washington's School of Informatics to conduct research on information and communication technologies (ICTs). My specific project was to see how teachers use games to teach math (with or without ICTs).
The reaffirming moments were spread throughout my research project. Seeing the disparities in education reminded me all too well of the education system in the U.S. Although I'm blessed to work at an awesome school, there are children all over the country who are deprived of an excellent education, because of where they live. In my research, I looked at how rural and urban schools teach mathematics, specifically if they use games and technology as methods. Many rural schools don't have enough books for students, let alone computers to teach math. I also learned that for most people, teaching is a last resort, extremely underpaid, and is not a respected profession. It was evident which teachers were there because they wanted to be, and which were there because they had no other choice. We met a teacher who took pride in his job and the success of his students. All of the students were smiling, and eager to share what they knew on the chalkboard in front of the class.
One teacher told me that students don't go home and practice their reading or math, and that is why they are all behind. But, as I walked through their village I saw fresh chalk on the side of homes with spelling words and math problems written on them. Students did care about their education, but had a teacher who did not believe in them.
Growing up, I could always tell the difference between those two types of teachers at school, and what type of effect they'd have on my education. This is why I agreed to become a teacher; to make a difference. I wanted to be the teacher that wants to be there and has a positive influence on students learning experience.
There was a school I went to in hopes of meeting with the headmaster to collect data, and the first thing he said to me was "What did you bring me?" Initially I was shocked. Why would he think I brought something? Historically, many Americans and Europeans have come to Ghana to "help" schools by donating, and leaving. The people are left to figure out how to maintain their new inheritances, or how to make the school supplies last the whole school year. A student at the university told me it's not fair if I conduct research and just take it home. This reminded me of my work at the Computer Clubhouse. Knowledge is the only gift I can give that is sustainable. Our motto at the Computer Clubhouse is "Each one, teach one; lifting as we climb." This is important because funding and equipment comes and goes, but the knowledge I'm able to share is forever.
A Heart Full of Grace: commitment to human dignity motivates Nathan Palpant '01 in research, bioethics
Nathan Palpant '01 PhD served with Africa Inland Mission before entering graduate school at the University of Michigan and an academic career. Along with his wife Darien ‘01 and children Clara and Elias, Nathan moved from the Seattle area to St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia, where he is Lab Head at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bioscience. This profile of Nathan's work appeared in the Krista Foundation's Fall 2015 newsletter.
How do we understand human suffering and human dignity? Nathan Palpant '01 PhD has wrestled with these questions all his life-from his childhood in Kenya, as a Whitworth undergrad, through a service year for the Africa Inland Mission, into graduate school and an academic career.
Recently honored by the International Society for Heart Research, Nathan is a research scientist probing the early developmental stages of the heart to understand potential treatments for heart disease. Last fall, he and his wife Darien ‘01, and children Clara and Elias moved to Australia, where he runs his own laboratory at the University of Queensland.
During his service experience providing medical care in Kenya and in war-torn communities in rural Sudan, "I was trying to engage aspects of the human experience that we in the U.S. are shielded from," he
says. "Coming back was challenging. The Krista Foundation asked the right questions and helped me process the experience."
Equipping young adults like Nathan to embrace and incorporate even difficult lessons into a lifelong ethic of service is central to the Krista Foundation's work. Nathan lives out that ethic in his workplace and daily life by pursuing questions of bioethics in addition to his 9 to 5 research. "I am working to bridge the gap between scientists who don't understand ethics and ethicists who don't understand science," he says. As co-editor of Suffering and Bioethics, published by Oxford University Press, he gathered scholarly voices on the biological, psychological, clinical, religious, and ethical dimensions of suffering.
Suffering has a purpose, Nathan contends. "When it comes to medical interventions, we often wrestle with the dilemma of choosing between the powers we're capable of through medicine and technology versus protecting the moral goods we value in the human experience. These are not always in alignment and are difficult to distinguish or understand." As a heart researcher and bioethicist, he is animating an important conversation that will ultimately help guide us through the quagmire of decisions around biomedicine.
The Krista Foundation is pleased to announce the 2016 KF Annual Conference at Clearwater Lodge on Davis Lake (45 minutes NE of Spokane, WA).
When: Saturday, May 28th, 2016
The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship 2016 Service Leadership Conference explores the theme "ReStorying Us: Crafting Narratives for Change" There are many narratives that define "us" as a community of service leaders, as a community of faith, as diverse and unified humans. Yet there are many cultural narratives that divide us, promote fear, or are unheard or silenced that reinforce (intentionally and not) the twisting of our collective understanding of "us," and "our" story. Hence - "Restorying us." To restory us is to restore us.
This year we will collectively "workshop" our way through a ReStorying Us process and utilize the conference platform to launch ongoing restorying connections in person and virtually after the conference.
2016 Featured Speaker
We welcome Jaleh Sadravi as our featured speaker. She brings a powerful mix of narrative crafting and technical skill from her life as the daughter of an African American Lutheran pastor and a Persian Shiite Muslim, as a service leader, and professional communications and media expert. Together, we'll craft narratives for change. We'll gain new frameworks and tools for shifting perspectives, conversations, and crafting multimedia stories.
What are you waiting for?! Please sign up to take advantage of this special opportunity to connect with and encourage young adults on their journey of service leadership!
Arts & Culture
Children and Youth
Integrating Service As A Way Of Life
Peace & Reconciliation
Post-Service Term Reflections
Poverty: Urban US & International
Preparing To Serve
Transitions Home & Beyond