With the exception of kindergarten and one quarter at a California State University campus, my entire education till now has taken place in a Seventh-day Adventist setting. I even went to an Adventist preschool (the one still run at Andrews University). But now I am enrolled at Johns Hopkins University for a master’s degree I am two semesters away from completing.
On my first evening of class, I felt like a goofy schoolkid again—except I was a thirtysomething wife, mother of two, and already had a full-time job. How would I fit in? Would I be the oldest person in class? How would my writing skills hold up against those of my classmates? Would I have anything in common with them aside from coursework?
I am loving this part of my life right now, for I have been extremely pleased with the level of education I have received from Hopkins through my instructors, available resources, and the overall high-caliber critique from fellow classmates.
But something else has really stood out to me—something that has made me examine my own life more critically. On this secular campus, inside classrooms filled with people who don’t share my core beliefs, I have been enveloped in a true spirit of openness. When I have shared pieces that talk about my faith, I have never experienced any rolling of the eyes, condescending chuckles, outright shock and disbelief, etc. My classmates have read and evaluated my work with respect and genuine interest, asking honest questions in that same spirit. And in conversations outside of class, I have always been treated in that same way. Truthfully, I never expected that.
These classmates—good, kind people who don’t believe Jesus is Lord—have consistently reminded me of how we must represent Him in the world.
Wilona Karimabadi takes care of KidsView, Adventist Review’s magazine for children. This article was published February 24, 2011.