Thirty flags line the walls of Mackay Dining Hall, only a fraction of the countries represented in the Princeton Theological Seminary community. We sat down with some of our international students to hear their stories.
First-year PhD student Ruth Vida Amwe says that her time at Princeton Seminary has bolstered her connection to home and her passion for exploring the role of religion in today’s world.
Q: Where is home?
A: I grew up in the city of Jos, Nigeria, best known by its inhabitants as J-Town. It remains one of my favorite places in the world with what I consider to be a rare blend of breathtaking landscape, perfect weather, rich history, and the coolest bunch of humans all engulfed in a daily marriage of art, music, fashion, food, and life — life in all its hues, shapes, and ups and downs.
Q: What drew you to Princeton Seminary? What has your experience here been like?
A: My journey to theological education began when I voluntarily withdrew from a bachelor’s in microbiology to attend seminary. I knew very little about Princeton Seminary before I started here in the fall of 2017. However, my experiences in the classroom with my professors, the chapel life, the dorms, and the library left me craving more, hence my decision to continue my scholarship here. Anyone who has lived abroad for awhile can resonate with what it’s like for your eyes to crave the familiar, for your taste buds to revolt sometimes, for your hands to touch your beloved pet, for your feet to be buried in the soil of your homeland, and for your body to desire the warm embrace of loved ones. At the same time, the occasional satisfaction of experiencing the new, the joys of engaging new ways of knowing, and the sheer satisfaction of participating in the realities of others in ways that strikingly resonates with yours makes the journey worthwhile. In those moments you learn that your heart can handle loving much more than you ever imagined. That’s what my experience has been like at Princeton Seminary.
But it also soon dawned on me that there were very few people who looked like me here. As an African female in theological education, it sometimes feels like cutting through a thick forest. I find that to be at odds with the fact that the contemporary face of world Christianity is an African (Nigerian) woman.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I take this new identity, both for African women and Christianity, quite seriously and I think it has immense repercussions for theology and the broader question of the role of religion in society today. I look forward to the various platforms interrogating these concerns will lead me. Preferably, I hope to one day be in a classroom somewhere in my continent, staring into the eyes of someone who looks just like me and saying, “Perhaps you are the hands, the feet, and the voice of God for our world today!”