Serve Well Blog

Entries tagged 'Colleague Press'


Wading in the Water: Taylor Tibbs '15

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Faith/Theological Exploration, Post-Service Term Reflections

Taylor Tibbs

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.



Knowledge is the Only Sustainable Gift

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Advocacy, Global Citizenship, Education, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life

Jaleesa Trapp '14 receives MLK Jr. Legacy Dream AwardJaleesa 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

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Healthcare, Healthcare, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life

Nathan PalpantNathan 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.


It's Impossible to Do It Alone!

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Community, Environment, Transitions Home & Beyond, Transitions Home & Beyond

Emily Bays' favorite scriptures are the Acts of the Apostles, "because they model how we can live in community and support each other."

Passionate about fostering thriving communities, Emily spent two years building bridges between the generation most directly affected by the Hanford nuclear production site and a young generation largely ignorant of the situation. "It was exciting to bring a voice of concern both for workers and environment to Hanford decision making," she says.

Less exciting was her volunteer living situation. "I knew that living communally wasn't going to be a cakewalk," she says, but the inherent messiness of shared living, few opportunities to process challenging in-service experiences, and finally a small house fire created "a different incarnation of community than we expected."

Luckily, Emily found vital support in the Krista Foundation. Last year’s Winter Debriefing and Discernment Retreat became critical in helping Emily process “a year so difficult that I was ready to get out.” The weekend “gave me tools to move forward with the experience, and use it in a productive way instead of having it be a big weight.”

Drawing on a Christian faith that is “completely integral to my view of the world,” Emily is planning her next move with the support of the Krista Foundation. “We (Krista Colleagues) are in all different places on our faith journey. By welcoming and nurturing us no matter where we are, we can live out our values of service and social justice.”


Caleb Stewart and a Lifetime of Service Leadership

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

This speech was given at the Krista Foundation Annual Fundraising Breakfast in Spokane, WA on September 29, 2015.

Caleb Stewart, 2002 Krista Colleague, served with the Peace Corps in Thailand. After his 27 month assignment, Caleb felt at home in the Thai culture and decided to stay. He was hired as Managing Director of the Khom Loy Development Foundation, an organization serving 18 tribal villages in the Chang Rai district. Caleb managed rapidly expanding programs in agriculture, Montessori-style education, and handicraft microenterprise. Upon his return to the U.S., Caleb completed his J.D. at the University of Washington Law School. Caleb currently works in Colorado as an attorney providing free civil legal services to survivors of labor exploitation and human trafficking.

When I reached five years in Thailand, I felt I needed to make some decisions. I either needed to make my life in Thailand permanent, or return to grad school. I decided that even if I wanted to commit to Thailand, I wanted to make that decision from the US. However, I knew that if I returned to the US, I needed to find meaningful work with opportunities for interacting with other languages and cultures. Therefore, I looked for work with migrant populations. I then decided that the most beneficial graduate degree for helping that population, for me, was law. So I went to law school with the intention of working with that population.

During my orientation week for law school, 60% of the incoming class raised their hand in response to who planned on pursuing public interest law. However, law school has its own ethos that values success in the classroom. Law school is also full of very intelligent and talented individuals. These two things combined to create an environment that closely defined what is valuable and what Is not. I found that my cross cultural skills and experiences, my language skills, my focus on serving those in need, were not valued. Those aspects of my personality weren't respected. As my competitive classmates became acculturated in the law school ethos, they often focused their attention on areas where they would get positive feedback. What that meant is that after graduation, despite 60 % intending to go into public service law, less than 10 % did.

A large reason why I was one of that 10% that did continue onto a public interest career is that I was able to step outside the law school ethos and find a community that still valued and recognized those skills and personality traits, traits that do lead towards a life of public service. In the KF community, I found people that would both affirm my desire to do public service law and would challenge me to go further in preparing for that service.

Entering my first year presented a cultural shock after living for five years in Thailand. It was disheartening, and a challenge not to lose confidence in myself and my abilities when all the qualities I had spent time developing while in service weren't valued. However, during that first year, I attended KF's transition retreat. That was a powerful weekend for me because it allowed me to step outside the law school ethos and see it for what it is, just one community of standards. I was encouraged that my service experiences prior to law school were important and challenged by the other amazing colleagues and the work they were doing.

Upon returning to law school after the retreat, the community of colleagues in Seattle and around the world constantly reminded me that there is a community that does value cultural adaptability and sensitivity as well as service of others. By being a part of this community of colleagues, I was able to go beyond the general attitude promoted in law school.
After leaving law school and beginning my legal career, I found that the connection with the KF helped me understand how to create a lifetime of service out of my service experience. Through the focus of the Krista Foundation Grant, I learned that there has to be a balance of self-care, personal development, and career development. I used the grant to further those three foundations through language study, training for, and then running a marathon. In a very direct way, I've used that language training to win a scholarship in law school and to assist Thai labor trafficking survivors in my current work. The lessons learned for self-care, personal development, and career development have helped me to maintain focus and avoid burnout while daily working with individuals that have tragic stories to tell while suffering through forced labor in jobs ranging from restaurants, farming and sheepherding to drug trafficking and prostitution.

When I first came back to the US, I was on a plane from LA to Denver and seated by chance next to a Thai man coming to the US for the first time. He didn't speak English and I'm sure I was the only Thai speaker on the plane. I helped him navigate the airport and we exchanged numbers. Later, when he found that the job wasn't what he was promised, he felt comfortable enough to call me for help when the job wasn't what he was promised. I knew what he was experiencing wasn't right, however, at this time I didn't yet have the legal training necessary to help him but I did reach out to others that did. Eventually, this restaurant was investigated and charged with human trafficking.

Later in my third summer during law school, I volunteered with the organization that assisted the human trafficking survivors that worked at this restaurant. I then had the legal training that I lacked before and was able to help them in ways I couldn't before. While at my current position one of these clients called my supervisor and left a message in his best English followed by a few sentences with him speaking to his wife in Thai saying that he tried to speak in English but doesn't know what he said. My supervisor forwarded me the voicemail and I called him back. He was quite surprised and happy to know that I now worked for CLS and could help him. He was diagnosed with cancer and denied medical coverage and other resources. He, like many of my clients who are in need of services from a large range of providers stretching from dentists and doctors, to bankers, and housing providers, needed me to advocate on his behalf before those professions so that he could get the services for which he qualified. No matter the industry, a broadened perspective gained from service experiences will help to serve the disadvantaged and vulnerable who seek those services more effectively. The opportunity to be a part of the Krista Foundation community was invaluable in sustaining me through my service assignment in Thailand, in maintaining my focus as I transitioned out of that assignment, and supporting me as I continue in lifelong service work.


Marisol Rosado-Carrisalez on Authenticity and Service

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

This speech was given at the Krista Foundation Annual Fundraising Breakfast in Spokane, WA on September 29, 2015. 

Marisol Rosado-Carrisalez, 2013 Colleague, served as a program assistant for Northwest Leadership Foundation's Act Six Program in Tacoma, WA. Marisol now serves as Program Manager for the Act Six program. She is passionate about being a catalyst for the next generation of leaders and directly applies that passion through the Urban Leaders in Training initiative at NLF.

I've been asked here to share my experience of how service has had a strong influence in my life journey.

My passions for service and for my city, Tacoma, have been nurtured since I was a young child but I could never fully articulate to my peers the importance of my passions in my life. It was not until I became an Act Six scholar at Whitworth University and the Northwest Leadership Foundation, that a vision of service birthed in me that I could not have imagined prior. As enlightening as this was, one of the most difficult tasks throughout my life have been sharing my passion with my loved ones and my city. Quite frankly, this was heartbreaking until I was commissioned as a Krista Colleague.

While Whitworth University did its best in preparing for me the professional world, I could not have imagined how great my need for accompaniment, a community around me, would be. Granted, I still have great relationships with my cadre mates and I do not foresee that ever changing. However, during my two terms of Urban Leaders in Training, it was the Krista Foundation that provided me opportunities to engage with others serving in a similar contexts with complementing passions. I firmly believe that this why the Krista Foundation exists. The Krista Foundation provides space for the colleagues and others associated to learn together. It has consistently affirmed my past experiences and it encourages healthy transformation in all capacities of my life. The Krista Foundation has helped me attain a language that healthily describes my perspectives and ethics of service. One quote that I constantly reminded of when I participate in an event at the Krista Foundation is, "My images of God, peace and service are incomplete without your images of God, peace and service". This is one of the best reflections I have to offer of this organization.

A reality that I continue to wrestle with are the complexities of the racialized institutions we all operate under. I was reminded during my service in AmeriCorps that most systems were not designed with me or people that identify similarly as I do, in mind. One brief example that reflects this is when I was working with several students whose K12 and college curriculums do not feature voices they identify with. I experienced this throughout all of my education. As a first generation, student of color, I often found myself questioning my capabilities and my identity. This is the reason why I chose to serve after graduating from Whitworth. I wanted to support students that systemic barriers would have let fallen through the cracks as I could have easily done. One way I have demonstrated this culture has been through the Krista Conference. I facilitated a workshop focusing on allyship for the Krista Colleague community. This experience has birthed a desire of developing lifelong ethics of authenticity AND service. Not an ethics of authenticity OR service but a complementing dynamic that best serves and changes my city. I'd like to share a piece of poetry that has greatly describes this dynamic.

This poem is called City Psalm by Denise Levertov.

The killings continue, each second

pain and misfortune extend themselves

in the genetic chain, injustice is done knowingly, and the air

bears the dust of decayed hopes,

yet breathing those fumes,

walking the thronged

pavements among crippled lives, jackhammers

raging, a parking lot painfully agleam

in the May sun, I have seen

not behind but within, within the

dull grief, blown grit, hideous

concrete facades, another grief, a gleam

as of dew, an abode of mercy,

have heard not behind but within noise a humming that drifted into a quiet smile.

Nothing was changed, all was revealed otherwise;

not that horror was not, not that the killings did

not continue, not that I thought there was to be no more despair,

but that as if transparent all disclosed

an otherness that was blessed, that was bliss.

I saw Paradise in the dust of the street.

In closing, I can honestly say that I would not be who I am without the Krista Foundation. It is because of the Krista Foundation that I can confidently stand here with you all committing to love my city amidst all of its affliction and beauty. The Krista Foundation has helped me build the cornerstones of my identity and my life.


Zoka Global Citizen Coffee Circle

Valerie Norwood | Colleague Press, Developing Nations, Community, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Sustaining Service

Global Citizen Coffee Circle

 Better coffee for you,
Better wages for farmers,
Better leaders for tomorrow

Join the Global Citizen Coffee Circle and you'll nurture a worldwide community of small coffee farmers and young leaders intent on changing the world.

With every delicious cup, you'll help Zoka Coffee's independent growers create sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families-and help the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship equip young volunteers with leadership skills equal to the challenges of our times.

As global as Zoka coffees, these young leaders serve from Tacoma and Chicago to Ulan Bator and Tegucigalpa, pursuing long-term, sustainable, game-changing goals.

Learn more about this amazing new partnership opportunity with Zoka Coffee!


Krista Foundation Expands Toolkit

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Service Ethics, Arts & Culture

"I will take care of myself and also challenge myself as much as I feel comfortable...I am a creative and artistic being...I give myself permission to have fun." As the group of thirty-some trainees declared these and other group norms, we all used our hands and arms to embody the messages, ending with a fun, little boogie.

This group, including four Krista Colleagues (Claire Smith '12, Kara King ‘06, Karolina Wright-Williams, ‘01, and Angie Merrill, '05), gathered together in Fremont for three full days of questions, creativity, reflection, and skills-building with First Aid Arts. The training centered on the Healing Arts Toolkit (HAT)- a box with an abundance of art supplies and facilitator resources - and encouraged participants to reflect deeply upon trauma-informed care, engage in arts-based therapeutic activities, design culturally appropriate adaptations, and practice self-care in a variety of settings.

First Aid Arts Healing Arts Toolkit

 Krista Colleagues (from left): Angie Merrill '05, Karolina Wright-Williams '01, Claire Smith '12, and Kara King '06

Some of the thoughts shared by the Colleagues that attended:

Why did you want to participate in this training? What goals or hopes did you bring with you?
I wanted to participate in the First Aid Arts HAT Training because the more I work with clients who have experienced trauma, the more I recognize how much we carry that trauma in our bodies and how it is not always accessible verbally. I believe art, in all forms, is a powerful modality for healing and I want to learn more as a therapist in how to use these tools with my clients.
~ Karolina Wright-Williams

I came into this training for myself and for the Krista Foundation. I, personally, wanted to build some arts-based healing skills to (hopefully) use in a future, as-yet-unknown job, and I also wanted to bring the skills into the KFGC. Many Colleagues could use these resources in their service and work, so I wanted to make the toolkit and knowledge available. Also, I think that, in their lives of service leadership, Colleagues need to tend our resilience and heal from traumas (both direct and vicarious) that we have experienced. As the Service Ethics coordinator on the Colleague Council, I approached the training as a tool to share so that we can all serve well. ~Claire Smith

Claire Smith First Aid Arts Toolkit
Claire Smith '12


What did you appreciate about it? Highlights? Challenges?

I appreciated the focus on the training objectives - Emotion regulation, Self-awareness, and Interpersonal skills - and the time taken to reflect on how they are being achieved in each activity.
~ Angie Merrill

Part of the training was learning to find and use the "lowest level of creative risk" to begin our activities, thus giving more people the ability to engage. In my work with young adults who have suffered complex trauma, this facilitation technique is going to be so helpful. It gives access to people who may otherwise disengage (for many motives) a door into the activity. Because we not only learned about the activities, but participated in them, I was able to have this experience myself - and that lowest level of risk allowed me to take deeper risks as we moved further into the training.
~Kara King

2015 First Aid Arts drawings        First Aid Arts Workshop

What "take aways" did you gather? Skills? Moments? Ideas? Insights?
Something we did in the workshop was to shout out, "Arugula!" when a mistake was made, and this was an experiential reminder to celebrate failure as a community and to normalize mistakes. Part of my work is loving our kids and caring for them during the day, so I hope to translate this idea and to create a word for our family to use, both as a way to teach our kids this concept and to remind us as parents to model that.
~Karolina Wright-Williams

I was reminded, again, of the importance of choice for survivors of trauma. Choice is embedded in the Toolkit activities, and I am reminded to be intentional in offering choice as we move through these activities which can bring up so much for survivors.
~Kara King

What does Resilience mean to you? Why does it matter?
I see resilience as both the capacity to endure/survive and the ability to return to a place of stability. I think of a line from Jane Hirschfield's poem, "...the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side, it turns in another." Resiliency is not an easy road and often involves pain and working through the hard stuff.
~Karolina Wright-Williams

I think of resilience as the miraculous ability that humans have to recuperate and regain balance in the midst of crisis. I believe we all have it throughout our lives, and it can be tended with self-care and community support. It matters for individuals and communities because it keeps us from breaking under the weight of the world, and it matters for organizations because it is a reminder to honor the strength and spirit of those being served, and to conduct service in a way the supports the rebuilding of self instead of re-traumatizing.
~Claire Smith

The Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship now has a First Aid Arts toolkit, which we will be incorporating into events for Colleagues and checking out to Colleagues with prior therapy training.


Keep an eye out for more resilience, trauma-informed care, arts-based healing, and trainings coordinated by KFGC's Service Ethics team


One Goal, Many Possible Paths

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Post-Service Term Reflections, Transitions Home & Beyond

2012 Krista Colleague Mike Davis spends his days equipping youth to use art to process trauma. Read how he's discerning his next step in growing his vision for service.


Mike DavisBecause music got Mike Davis ‘12 safely through a rough adolescence, he's passionate about helping young people to engage, create, and communicate through arts and performance.

While serving with Urban Impact in Seattle, he began to see how the arts could go deeper. Many of the middle schoolers he worked with didn't know how to process their pain in a constructive way. Using hip hop, Mike saw firsthand how students could "get stuff out of them and into a song or a spoken word piece." Releasing their feelings through art helped them process trauma.

As well, students found in Mike a mentor who understood where they came from and what they were dealing with at home. As he writes in "Where I am from"


I'm from...

Black mothers that take upon the roles of black fathers,

Fathers that were forced to forsake their own and encouraged not to bother,

Leaving my momma to teach me to tie my tie and fold down my collar,

I'm from...

How come YOU get to and I can't,

From songs I didn't like but was forced to dance,

From, if another cop looks at me that way I'ma...

From, never mind, I'll just avoid that drama.


One day, a girl who had shared her journal with Mike--including an entry that talked of suicide--came to see her counselor. Told that the counselor was out, she asked to meet with Mike instead. You can't, was the reply-Mike is not certified.

"She needed someone, but on paper I wasn't certified to talk with her," Mike remembers.

Stung by the response, Mike enrolled in Bellevue College. But the road to credentials in art therapy would be long. Aiming for a graduate degree would mean "pounding it out for the next 8 to 10 years, doing my prerequisites and transferring to university."

And unlike many students, Mike's full-time studies joined an already long list of responsibilities as a full-time worker, musician, and dad to his 5 year old son.

A year into his studies, Mike began to wonder if this was what God had in mind for him. After wrestling with this question during the January Debriefing and Discernment retreat, Mike is choosing to put school on hold for now.

"I know what art and music did for me as a teen, so I want to connect performing art and visual art to help kids process major or minor trauma," he says. "That's still my vision, but God is calling me to pick another route, and it's slowly making sense."

During his six years in Seattle, Mike has built relationships with many different community organizations. Connected to faith-based and secular nonprofits as well as the public education system, he is well positioned to use the arts to make a difference in the lives of young Seattle residents.

Now a drop-in coordinator for the Seattle Union Gospel Mission's Youth Reachout Center, Mike thinks that the route God has in mind for him might be less traditional. "It's like God is saying, really experience this road instead of the one you would naturally take. I feel like if I am obedient to what God is saying, all these pieces will fall in place."




Crossing Cultures in Theory and Practice

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press, Integrating Service As A Way Of Life, Intercultural Development, Transitions Home & Beyond

As part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Claire Smith '12 served domestic violence survivors in Oregon and was an academic assistant at a school on the Crow reservation in Montana. During service, she had many opportunities to build her intercultural competence. The Intercultural Development Inventory helped frame her growth.

Claire SmithIs cheese a staple kitchen ingredient, or a bonus item?

What about nori?

Questions like these peppered the early days of 2012 KF Colleague Claire Smith's life in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Gresham, Oregon.

While all seven housemates seemed to share similar backgrounds at first glance, "many tensions surfaced based around our assumptions and worldviews," she says. "It would have ended up being a tense community with lots of fights if we hadn't all wanted to lean in and figure out the reasons behind our differences."

More opportunities to practice relationship amongst differences arose on the job with Proyecto UNICA/Catholic Charities, where Claire worked with Latina women affected by domestic and sexual violence. And still more practice was called for during in her second Jesuit Volunteer year, while serving as an academic assistant at the Pretty Eagle School on the Crow Indian reservation near Hardin, Montana.

"Throughout all of these experiences, I was lucky to be surrounded by people who were willing to dig in to relationship and speak openly about cultural norms and values, but there were a lot of growing edges, and since the end of service, the Intercultural Development Inventory has helped me frame it."

During her pre-service orientation with the Krista Foundation, Claire took the 50-item inventory for the first time. As the inventory assessed her intercultural competence, it showed a gap between her ideals and her experience.

"I had the right answers in my head," Claire says, "but not a lot of experience living them out. Having to make a home in groups of people from different backgrounds gave me lots of practice, which was reflected when I took the IDI for a second time during the Winter Debriefing and Discernment retreat." The growth in her IDI helped Claire recognize the growth in her cross-cultural fluency and gave her a way of framing her service experiences. "It really helps me look with a clearer lens at where I've been and how I've grown."

Claire hopes to use the IDI tools more consciously in the future. She appreicates the way that it breaks down a person's relationship with cultures, and she sees it as a potential for larger scale development as well. "I think that using it in any group setting or as a facilitation tool would provide some useful shared language around issues that are critical for community, but often difficult to talk about."

Follow Claire's journey across cultures in her "Where I am from" poem, written during the Debriefing and Discernment retreat.