It’s hyper-stimulating. That’s what I thought, when I visited Harvard Divinity School for Theological Education Day. With all the panel discussions for prospective students, classes to visit, faculty and denominational counselors to meet, and library and campus tours, in addition to the regular events that take place throughout the year, like Community Tea, Noon Service, and events and lectures, there was far more going on than I could possibly do in my 2-day visit. As a student at Harvard for two years now, that feeling hasn’t gone away. I’ve found there’s far more going on here than I can even keep track of, let alone do, in any given week.
One day, I realized I’d been on campus from 8 am to 8 pm, having the time of my life, going from one thing to the next, synapses firing, learning so much—without even having a single class. It was a typical Wednesday: I started my day in the Office of Admissions, where I work as a Graduate Assistant, went to Noon Service followed by a panel discussion on homelessness at the CSWR, then a high security library in the Yard to examine letters by Emerson and other Transcendentalists for my other part-time job as a Research Assistant, and ended the evening with a classmate’s book release party for her new book on The American Health Care Paradox.
I’m sure there were a lot of other events going on that day, too. Whenever I look at the campus bulletin boards, I see posters for events I want to be sure to go to only to realize they’ve already passed. HDS is such a small community with so many events, you might say it’s over-programmed—and that’s just the Divinity School. Last semester, when I had a couple classes at the Kennedy School of Government, I was introduced to the slew of exciting events taking place over there. First, I went to an NPR “On Point” broadcast from the JFK Forum on income inequality, and then I found myself going to a series of discussions with political pundit Ana Navarro from CNN. Every once in a while, I’ll pop over to the Law School or the School of Education to see what’s going on over there. It’s all related. Everything has to do with values, ethics, morality, faith, theology, spirituality, justice, what matters most in life, and how we are to live with one another in right relationship.
Deep, meaningful conversations are part of my everyday life at HDS. There are so many interesting people among the student body with compelling personal stories, unique perspectives, and heartfelt aspirations, that I could spend all day just talking to people about what’s important to them and why. A single conversation can change the way I think about myself, a classmate, a religious tradition, God, death, love, or justice. Now imagine having 8 conversations like that in a row, but for just 2 minutes each. That’s what Speed Theology was like: we paired up to share our beliefs and listen deeply to each other and then got up and sat down again with someone else. Over the past two years, I’ve had paradigm-shifting and life-changing conversations with my peers.
That said, there’s an abundance of intellectual fodder here. The sheer volume of course offerings and required readings, lectures and events, resources and opportunities, and interesting and accomplished people among the faculty and student body is both amazing and overwhelming. It makes me think in new ways and gives me big ideas. It’s exciting, engaging, inspiring, and empowering.