What do these Commitments mean to you, and how do they fit into your worldview?
I think the Third Commitment is important. It says to stimulate understanding of the Christian faith. Having the GSTR 310 class was very helpful for me as a non-Christian student. I got to grow in both faith and spirituality. The Commitment also mentions its ‘many expressions.’ I realize that Christianity is not just one thing, there’s not one concrete type of Christianity, there are different interpretations. This particular Commitment, what does it mean to me? In my worldview, I think everybody can serve the other, despite their faith or religion, not just Christians. In a sense, this Commitment is a little bit hard for me to explain and to accept fully, because I believe that not just Christians serve others. People of other religions, and non-religious people can serve equally as great as Christians or any other religious people. I guess it is an important Commitment because the college is based on the Christian faith.
The Fourth Commitment is, “To provide for all students through the labor program experiences for learning and serving in community, and to demonstrate that labor, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility.” I think this is my favorite of the Eight Commitments. I really like it because it’s so true. And I feel like sometimes, unfortunately, I see some students who do not really realize that. That all labor has dignity and you can learn so much from even being a janitor. And so many think, for example, that the janitor labor position is so lowly, you clean toilets and everything, and it’s so dirty, and you as the person who does it, that you don’t deserve respect and you don’t have dignity.
But that’s so not true! I was a janitor my freshman year. It was not pleasant at first, but then I realized: “I’m making somebody at least a little bit more comfortable entering this bathroom in its cleaner state!” So through that labor, I actually learned how to serve, and to be happy with the way that I’m serving. This Commitment is so true, it completely changed me and my worldview. I realized that I don’t have to be this perfect person working in academic services, helping with grades, being a TA, helping with classes. I realized I can serve and make somebody happy through what is called ‘the lowly position,’ but it’s not really lowly. And I think in Berea every labor position is equal, they’re just different approaches of serving. I love that Commitment.
What challenges do these Commitments pose?
I don’t know how it feels to be a Christian. That’s why the Commitment is important I guess, because it helped me to understand how the Christians think. So actually, it is a really important part of what Berea College is. And this Commitment is important, because it helps the students who are not Christians to get into the Christian mind-set, like putting on glasses and saying, “Ah, this is how Christians see it.” And then, from 310 I actually realized, although my religion and Christianity are different religions, there is so much interconnectedness, which assures me that neither religion is wrong, there is something right in both. I think that’s what I learned the most.