The Call to Serve
by Ming-Hui Tseng, Class of 2010
When I came to Vassar, I wasn’t sure what a college education was supposed to do, and now upon leaving, I am only sure of the magnitude of what I’ve received. The coursework I took over the past four years has destroyed my conceptions and presuppositions about the world, challenging me in ways I hadn’t thought possible or necessary. The community I found in the Vassar Christian Fellowship, in my professors and friends, helped me construct a vision of what I thought the world could be and how hard I was willing to work for it. While I intellectually confronted problems of modernity, post-colonial race relations, and theorist after theorist telling me I was inescapably trapped in myself, in my culture and biases, I was surrounded by a community of friends that loved me and pointed me to God with unwavering faith. In the face of issues that look insurmountable, partly because I am implicated in all of them, I have a concrete hope for my personal transformation and a unyielding faithfulness that I hope can lead to global transformation.
I acknowledge that my time at Vassar has been unique to me in many ways, but I only know how to be as nakedly honest as I can: My streaking is best done in writing. In my time at Vassar, I saw a community of people in the Vassar Christian Fellowship experience God individually, together and grow as a result. We became less selfishly ourselves and less inhibited by our biases and failures. If we, who are so immovably stubborn could change, albeit slowly, perhaps the world (world is not an abstract concept, but made up of individual people) could change. Perhaps God was big enough for that. I’ve also learned that God delights to use us screwed up people, so God’s glory becomes all the more evident in a slow and irresistibly beautiful revolution. Dare I say it, but we have just become too selfish, lazy and too instant-result oriented to see a revolution through. I shudder to think what the world would be like if people like Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Burmese Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi decided that committing a lifetime for the sake of change would be too taxing. Perhaps it would be easier to just hunker down, earn some money and pass a lifetime without risk. However, in all the late nights I’ve spent with friends wandering around a dark campus dreaming for our fellowship, in all the papers I’ve procrastinated on because I needed to lovingly talk to someone more than I needed a good grade, I’ve seen that change is too feasible, palpable and addicting to be abandoned for an easier life.
Revolution (if you’re into that kind of thing, and dammit I’ve fallen in love) happens slowly. A prayer attributed to El Salvadorian Bishop Oscar Romero concludes saying, “We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.” I guess what I’ve learned most at my time at Vassar is that I’m a worker and a prophet. We prophesize a future that has not come and that we may not live to see. Then, we work, cry and bleed for it. Simply said, I want to be part of a generation that does not sell out. I want to see a generation, who radically practices the things we’ve been taught to their full implications, better than our teachers have. I can only wonder what could happen if we all communally committed to a lifetime of faithful, constant service of others.
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