21 Nov Transformational Impact on Campuses
It has been three months since I joined UESI Delhi as a coordinator and one of the things I have realised is the immeasurable potential every student who is a disciple of Christ, possesses to create a huge impact for Christ on their campuses. As a student throughout my UG and PG days I got the privilege to actively engage on my campus however not realising the magnitude of the impact the Lord has made through my life and involvement in my friends, professor’s lives , classroom discussions, department and college-level events.
I still remember all the fascinating thought-provoking classroom discussions that I was able to be a part of during my UG and PG days where I got the golden opportunity to engage with my discipline through my faith. However, one of them I distinctively recollect is from one of my literary theory classes where we were doing postmodernism and my professor stated that ‘there is no absolute truth but it is relative and subjective. I posed a question in my class asking that ‘if there is no absolute truth, then what is that something concrete that one can hold on to’? The professor refuted my question by saying that it was Friedrich Nietzsche who stated it and not her, to which two of my classmates from other faith joined in posing a similar question asking the professor’s personal opinion on what then can be concrete that one can hold on to. But the professor never answered it suggesting that it was not a part of the curriculum however this later opened up a discussion on the subject of Truth with my classmates on a personal level where I could talk about my faith in Christ.
In one of my modern novel classes, an interesting topic of discussion that arose while doing a text titled ‘ A portrait of the artist as a young man’ by James Joyce was the religious elements in the novel that created a lot of tension. My professor who was teaching that text was humble enough to admit that he didn’t know much about the religious elements so considering me being the only Christian in my class my professor assigned me to do a class presentation on the prominent differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to talk about some of the core beliefs, practices, and doctrine of salvation from both of them. This again led to a series of questions that led to meaningful discussions on the subject and moreover what my classmates and the professor appreciated was the hard work I put into my presentation in making my original notes for the class and the slideshow. Later this practice was followed by the subsequent presenters and I believe as Disciples of Christ we are called to excel in everything we do because our classmates notice the little details and through these efforts God is glorified.
On the account of women’s day, my department organized a plethora of events for a week reminiscing the various women who made a mark in history throughout their lives. In one of the events, I went along with my friend to listen her read out her favourite excerpts from Toni Morrison’s works, and later all the other students who too participated in that event, read and shared their favourite excerpts in their own words. While sharing their favourite excerpts many students broke down and cried out of hopelessness as they identified their past trauma and daily struggles with the life experiences of the prominent women they were talking about. After listening to all of them, I just couldn’t simply sit there as a spectator anymore having the hope through Christ. So I was compelled to ask the organizer for an opportunity to share something and God gave me the opportunity and courage to stand up and speak into that hopeless situation that things will change little by little but gradually. I assured all the students seated in that room that we as a small group of women from the English department are standing together and that no one is alone and things will change.
I want to share something that reinstated the significance of acknowledging the other person in our class. It is my habit to greet mostly everyone, especially my classmates with a ‘hi’ whom I meet on a daily basis. Little did I realize the impact it created on one of my classmates with whom I interacted however without knowing what she was personally going through. After we graduated from college, she sent me a long text message thanking me that I made her feel acknowledged by regularly saying ‘hi’. She also said that I was carrying so much of joy and peace within that it was felt by her too. She said that when she was going through an existential crisis and didn’t know why she wanted to come to college or even live for that matter she felt so acknowledged by a simple ‘hi’ that made her come to college regularly, do the assignments and be around us. I replied to her message giving the source and reason behind my joy and peace pointing towards Christ and that He can do that for her too. She was glad to hear that.
During the conversations in my Arabic class, I got to listen to their faith and also share the good news of what Christ did for all of us. My friend and I were also able to do a paper presentation in the department literary fest on ‘Caste as a disease shown in films like Article 15 and Periyar’ under the larger theme of “Literary Diseases: Representation of Disease in Literature and Cinema”.
This helped me to address one of the dominant issues in the society and moreover this opened up more space for me to be a part of discussions among my peer groups about similar issues from patriarchy to Islamophobia. As I participated in many such department activities like sending in my poems for the magazine, open mics and simply being present in the book discussions brought me very close to the lives of the students to a point where once my classmate personally texted me to ask my opinion on something very sensitive and I was able to give my opinion inspired from the word of God. Sadly, from the time of my student life to the present, most of the students know the definition of campus engagement however lack the core understanding of the purpose and extent to which one can go. There is a tendency to go to two extremes; either refrain from engaging the campuses at all due to the skewed notion of segregating the sacred and secular or begin well but get too carried away by the society events and department activities forgetting the whole purpose of it.
As Colin Wright opines, “Extremes are easy. Strive for balance”. This is one of my favorite quotes to live by as it emphasizes on the significance of balance in everything we do. As disciples of Christ, to help us keep the balance is undoubtedly the Word of God. Moreover to have a like-minded group of students who are willing to reach out to create an impact for Christ helps to avoid the danger of getting carried away. Every student can begin by interacting with their friends.
I would reinstate that college is not just to study, hang out with your own group of friends, attend EU and Church but are called for so much more. Undoubtedly, all of this plays a vital role in every student’s life but aren’t you all called for something more than just you and your life? A call to begin from interacting with your friends to further leading to an impact on the campus. Students on the campuses are lost, hopeless, empty, broken, living in darkness, searching for the truth and meaning of life. So don’t let fear tell you that they are not interested in the truth or anything for that matter.
Another point that I would like to make every clear is that your life speaks volumes of who Christ is; so ‘live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Last week in one of the EU fellowships, the person who was sharing the Word said twice, “for some of your classmates your life will only be the Bible that they read”. So live your lives mindfully knowing from where God brought you out into His glorious light so that you can testify his goodness in the campuses where God has placed you.
S. Wiselyn Amy completed her BA and MA in English in Delhi. She enjoys reading, playing guitar, writing and listening to thought-provoking discussions on various topics. She is currently serving as a coordinator in UESI Delhi