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Editor’s Note: To celebrate the beginning of classes for the 2020-21 Academic Year, we decided to ask some current HDS students to write about their favorite things about HDS. Most of these paragraphs have to do with community at HDS, so we want to acknowledge how difficult it is for us all to be apart this semester. We’re hoping we can be back in person soon, and we’re excited to work on building community digitally this fall. Please enjoy reading about their favorite courses, communities, and experiences so far. 

Anna Ringheiser, MTS ‘21 

My favorite class my first semester at HDS was Religious Literacy and The Professions with Professor Diane Moore. I loved this class primarily because I had not previously encountered the term “religious literacy,” but I had felt the need for what the term describes in previous professional experiences. Another reason I loved this class was the diversity of ages, experiences, and opinions among my classmates. I was able to learn so much from them, which was helped by the small size of the class and Professor Moore’s teaching style, which gave room for everyone to share their thoughts. 

Panduranga Gopala Dasa, MDiv ‘22 

During my first semester, I really loved the course Introduction to Ministry Studies. As part of this course, I gave an introductory lecture series on Bhagavad Gita to the undergraduate students at Harvard. These diverse opportunities and practical training at HDS makes it a very special place to learn and more importantly to apply the principles. 

Reem Shaikh, MTS ‘21 

My favorite thing about HDS is the feeling of community. No matter what one’s interests and focuses are, everyone in HDS seems to be connected in one way or another. On campus, a day wouldn’t go by except that I’d run into someone from HDS and have a few minutes of interesting conversation with them. 

Minahil Mehdi, MTS ‘21 

1. The International Students’ Community  

If you are an international student then your orientation will begin a day sooner, and you’ll meet with students from different parts of the world and perhaps just as lost as you. To know that you’re here, a place that could be your new home, having left an old home, can be a very strange feeling. Meeting those who are in the same boat as you can be comforting, and that was one of greatest sources of support and joy at HDS. 

2. Memorial Hall 

Although you’ll get to visit this only once at convocation, once you’re there you’ll want to go again. Any Harry Potter fan would definitely have their heart out for the mahogany walls and beautiful chandeliers. I attended the tribute Toni Morrison here, which made it all infinitely beautiful.  

3. The HDS course Finding Beauty in Broken World 

This course was like living through months of poetic expression. Each class was a single verse, and by the end of the semester we were all embodied poems, walking in the pandemic with our hearts wide open to support and love those around us. Writer-in-Residence Terry Tempest Williams is a gem, and a single semester with her shaped many things for me. 

Julia Reimann, MDiv ’22 

One of my favorite things about HDS is Community Tea every Tuesday afternoon. Being able to share some delicious food with friends in the middle of busy school weeks offers such a wonderful opportunity to connect and to be reminded of the community that supports me in this moment of my life. 

Sarah Kissel, MTS ‘21 focusing on Religion, Literature, & Culture 

Independent studies have given me some of the most exciting and challenging academic experiences at HDS. Faculty have been so generous with their time and expertise and are very willing to engage specific projects with individual students. I am so thankful for the culture that supports and encourages this collaboration at HDS! 

Lóre Stevens, MDiv ‘22 

Last fall, a group of first years started meeting up for drinks after Intro to Ministry Studies class sections in an informal event we named “Sloppy Sections.” We got to know each other, read tarot cards, and just chilled out! I so value the in-person time we spent together, especially under these circumstances. 

Phuong Bui, MTS ‘21 focusing on Buddhist Studies 

I like how friendly everyone is at HDS—most of the people, from the professors to the students, are some of the most kind and understanding people you’ll ever meet. 

Eboni Nash, MTS ’21 focusing on African Studies 

My favorite thing about HDS is the Black Religion, Spirituality, & Culture Conference (BRSCC) hosted in February by Harambee. It is a great time to gather and learn from Black and African scholars, as well as take part in their open mic night. Most events at HDS are complimented with amazing food and conversation; however, this one just stuck out to me. 

Eboni Nash (back row, second from the right) with the co-organizers of  
the Black Religion, Spirituality, and Culture Conference  
// Photo courtesy of Eboni Nash 

Eva Seligman, MDiv ‘22 

The engaged, supportive, and collaborative attitude of HDS students.

Alex Jensen, MDiv ‘21 

My favorite thing about HDS is the little conversations you can fall into with classmates and professors in the in-between times. I’ve found these to be particularly meaningful and special at times, and I find I leave with new insights I might not have gained just in the classroom.