Thursday, May 16, 2013

MA International Development

As some of you know, this week began the first week of my Master's program through Eastern University.  I'm getting my Master's in International Development so that the Kivu Gap Year can hopefully give students up to 31 hours of college credit in the future instead of just 12.

This year I'm taking six classes:  Intro, Community Development, Economic Development in Developing Countries, Leadership and Empowerment, Program Planning Marketing and Management and Theology of Poverty.  It is a two year course and for part of the two years I get to spend nearly a month in Uganda (this June & July) and nearly a month in Rwanda (summer 2014).  I am so excited and overwhelmed by all of this!!!

Today I started the Intro portion.  I had to write a paper on community based on a video I watched of my professors.  I thought I'd share that with you here.  (You'll be reading tons of my thoughts and writings about my classes over the next two years.)  The assignment was to write about a community I have been involved in that has shaped me.

My Family Community: Party of 7

At my stage in life right now, my family is my community.  We are Braner Party of 7.  We share genetics (some of us), values, respect, living quarters, memories, habits, traditions, beliefs, culture, dreams and much more.  In this family community we are shaping one another: we are making each other better through the good times and the frustrating times.  We exist together and we do life together.  My family community has been made in several different ways.  It has been made up by love as I fell in love with my husband twenty years ago and we started this community based on that love and our commitment to one another.  As my biological kids were born, our community became made up by love as well as genetics and shared experiences from the moment they entered our lives.  And then my family community was completed through another commitment to love and care as we adopted two from Rwanda (on two separate occasions).  My family of seven is a community that laughs, loves, cries, plays, engages, annoys, teaches, learns, prays and dreams together.  

The relationships in my family are based on daily active decisions.  Love isn't just something you feel on a good day.  Love is a decision to actively put another person's needs above your own.  Love is a verb that encompasses patience and kindness and bearing all things as I Corinthians 13 tells us.  Love has to be a choice because it isn't something you always feel.  Forgiveness is an active choice that has to be made and followed thorough with.  Trust is a action verb as it is earned and lost and re-earned in the family environment.  Hoping is another active choice and so on.  I feel like our family community is made up of constant active choices each second becasue we don't always feel the warm fuzzies but the lack of feeling doesn't make our community any less of a commitment to one another.

I loved how the program directors talked about community in the video.  I am thankful to be involved in a Master's program that is more than just classes and grades.  I'm thankful that Eastern is set up to be another community for me.  I look forward to growing with other students and teachers in a community that will be based on common interests and goals and experiences.  I know that living in Africa will speed up this community for the Uganda group I am in and I am so thankful for that.  I know that the community of Eastern will look very similar to my family community because of these commonalities we will have among one another and because of the active decisions we will make to remain involved in this community in a healthy way.

Because my season in life keeps me very tied to my family community of seven, I haven't had the opportunity to branch out into another community in a while and I am looking forward to finding community among the people in the International Development (especially Uganda) program.  In Genesis, God said that "'it is not good for man to be alone'" because the almighty Creator knew that even as Adam was dwelling with God in the most intimate relationship, he needed another human to live in community with.  Wow!  That is amazing!  God knew we needed one another and I am looking forward to having others in my life in community.

No comments: