Nils is studying for Professional Doctorate and works as a Gestalt therepist in Riga, Latvia.
Each time I fly to Cambridge for one of my study days I simultaneously change two contexts. First, I find myself in a different country and culture with all the excitement, curiosities (and occasional awkwardness) one could expect such change to involve. Second, my professional identity as a clinical therapist in a hospital setting needs to transform into that of a student in a university library. And also a third change deserves mentioning as well – my newly-formed identity as a student of Wesley House means that for a number of days each semester I leave my Anglicanism at home to become a member of the Wesleyan community. Over the past two years I’ve grown strongly convinced that it is the latter which has a lot to do with how easy the first two changes have been for me each time I come here for study.
It has been a true blessing to experience first-hand and unreservedly all the Christian virtues of friendliness, helpfulness, openness and welcoming spirit starting from the very first communication over e-mail with the Wesley House staff. However, the main purpose for investing my rather limited resources of time and money in studying with Wesley House has been my aspiration to get a world-class academic enrichment. I wanted my graduate education to be something more than just a next level degree – rather I hoped for it to equip me with something tangible, something I would be able to take back home in order to make meaningful changes in the lives of the teenagers I work with at the hospital. The process is just half-way but I can now say with all the conviction that the academic experience is already bringing transformation to how I think, act and work. It is bringing enrichment to my practice. For this is I am largely indebted to the supervisional support I receive at Wesley House and the calmness of the library which for a few days focuses my thoughts on the tremendous resources of healing our tradition holds before heading back to the more mundane realities of everyday life back at home.
It is often said in books on practical theology that each experience is grounded in communal practices. For me, the weekly service in the Wesley House chapel, community dinner, lecture and evening prayer is what grounds my study trips and makes me feel linked to something more than just an educational institution or a certain degree pathway. It is especially important when studying can begin to feel rather sporadic and visits to university are occasional and spread apart in time and distance, as in my case. These three qualities – educational, personal and spiritual – are what have characterized my experience of Wesley House so far. It has been all I expected educational experience to be – truly transformative.