The title above is how I have introduced myself more times than I can count over the last couple weeks. My first challenge of Seminary has not been academic but social. All of a sudden I need to learn the names of more than fifty new classmates and professors. All of whom are wonderfully fascinating people from all walks of life and all parts of the world. I likened it to walking into a new congregation and having to learn the names of everyone as they walk out the door and shake your hand and say goodbye on a Sunday morning. Unlike that scenario we are all on a level playing field here. No one knows anyone’s name and if I were being introduced to a new congregation they would all know my name. We are also all new here, just like the freshman on campus, but decidedly older, we don’t know where the library is yet, we are inept when it comes to putting in the combination to get our mail, and we are all here to learn how to serve God in the best way we can.
Not only do we all come from all around the country and the world, we come from all different denominations and faiths. Not everyone here is Christian, some are Jews and some are Muslims. Among the Christians on campus there are more faith traditions and denominations than I could list here. Drew is an intentionally diverse community with students of every race, gender, age, faith, and sexual orientation. Inclusive language is required in all written work and expected whenever anyone is speaking. It is a wonderful cocoon of diversity located within a relatively diverse community itself. Madison, and the surrounding communities that I have traveled to in my short two weeks here, seem to be much more diverse than the community I have come from in Upstate New York.
I have yet to encounter an unfriendly face and everyone seems to completely understand when I forget or haven’t learned their name. In the middle of the day in the middle of the week there is chapel. A wonderful re-energizing respite that just makes each day special. In addition to chapel there is seminary choir, a treat I had given up at home but am looking forward to here on campus.
Classes have been wonderful so far, as we students relish the first week of classes full of learning names, learning computer programs and, going over syllabi. The ease of week one will quickly fade as this week we all get down to work. As we all settle in and begin life over as students, some for the first time in over thirty years and some who only finished their undergrad degree a few weeks ago, we will go forward to achieve our goals, whatever they may be.