Christina Baik '13 M.A.R.
Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use” was one of the readings at chapel this morning. I closed my eyes and nodded along to the final lines: “The pitcher cries for water to carry / and a person for work that is real.” When I graduated from Swarthmore College in 2008, I wanted to be of use. After raising funds for arts education programs through a year-long fellowship affiliated with AmeriCorps*VISTA, I started teaching 8th grade English, 6th grade Spanish, and a course I created for my 8th graders called “Identity in Community” at a Quaker school outside of Philadelphia. There, I found “work that is real.” The core question that drove my teaching was how to equip my students to respond to conflicts with positive action rather than with indifference or despair. Over time, I grew compelled by the value of faith-informed teaching, especially as my students read, wrote about, and shared narratives that raised dark realities of the human condition. It was time for me to wrestle more intentionally with the big questions myself so that I could offer even more to my students. I was attracted to YDS because the community in the Quad seemed particularly dedicated to enriching faith and scholarship in tandem. The ISM seemed particularly fitting, as it would enable rich interdisciplinary study. As I start my second year, I step forward with faith that I will gain more means of helping my students to find light in darkness.