I’ve decided to divide my reflection on The Plunge into two parts, the first dealing with our time spent in Geneva with the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation, and the second dealing with our time in Taizé.
Just before I left for Geneva, I declared Global Development Studies (a.k.a. DEVS) as my university major. I never really knew what to say when people asked me the question that every Arts student dreads: “So what are you going to do after school?” My choice of a major didn’t come with a clear career path. I worried that it may not come with any kind of career path. I chose to major in Global Development Studies because of a desire to “help people” and a strong belief in social justice. So when anyone asked, I listed off a few organizations that I would like to work for: Oxfam, Half the Sky, Word Made Flesh. No ideal job, really just anywhere I could get in. I’d give a half-hopeful shrug, hoping that they weren’t immediately dismissing my “plans” (for lack of a better word) and imagining me unemployed after graduation instead.
Because of my interest in social justice and global development work, our time with the staff of the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation was my favourite part of The Plunge. Between that and our visit to the UN, I was in DEVS heaven. I valued having the chance to meet and talk with people who actually work in the development field. Not only people who work in the development field, people whose motivation for doing so is grounded in their Christian faith. Because mine is too, and that’s sometimes hard to explain to fellow DEVS students in the face of the long history of faith-based organizations exploiting vulnerable people and making problems worse under the guise of “Christian charity.” Meeting with employees of the LWF who have learned (and continue to learn) from the mistakes of the past, instead of using them as an excuse to stop trying or hide their faith, gave me hope that in my future career I’ll be able to do the same thing.
Speaking of my future career, I actually found my dream job in Geneva with the LWF. Ms. Caroline Richter introduced Plunge participants to the work of the Lutheran World Federation youth branch on the first day, and she also explained what she does with the Lutheran World Federation. Her work, and the work of the LWF in general, fit my interests perfectly. The emphasis on youth participation; inter-faith and inter-religious dialogue and partnerships; the faith-based motivation that leads the organization to help whomever is in need, regardless of their beliefs; and the call to “uphold the rights of the poor and oppressed”.
The DMD Secretary for the LWF Youth is hired for a six-year term, and the person hired must be under thirty at the time. The position opens up again in 2018 – the year I’ll (hopefully) have finished grad school. It’s a long shot – there are probably a lot of people, much more qualified than me, who want this position. A lot can (and will) change in the next five years. But visiting the LWF and WCC gave me something to strive for, a concrete idea of the kind of work that I want to do.
- Hannah Shirtliff