“Through Dialogue, We Change…”

SCM Canterbury’s Jessie Robinson reflects on her trip to SELF in Cambodia late last year.

From the 24th of October until the 5th of November, I had the privilege to be in Siem Reap, Cambodia for WSCF’s School for Ecumenical Leadership Formation (SELF) programme. Identity, Diversity and Dialogue were the key themes of the programme. Representatives from all around the Asia – Pacific region were brought together to participate in SELF. We were based at a reflection centre so as such, each day we were encouraged to reflect on parts of the programme that spoke to us. The following is what really stood out to me. 

The Bishop of Sri Lanka was amongst the speakers and he spoke very well on the subjects of contemporary issues and challenges, and also on the subject of the LGBT+ Community. We have multiple identities. Bishop encouraged us to dialogue. Discuss, to dig deep and not accept things at a superficial level. The group was spoken to, to have courage to be non-conformist. To practice sensitive leadership by listening and keeping an ear to the ground. The solution to challenges should come from the people within which will lead to unity and truth being established. 

Through dialogue we change. Our faith becomes deeper. A tool that we were shown to practice reflection is that of zoegraphy. It is centred in our personal life. It is the story of one’s life in relation to society. In zoegraphy we are encouraged to have an open imagination and to ultimately serve God. If we are able to dialogue with others about commonalities in our own lives, this is a way to solve challenges in society. The World can be made peaceful if we bring a vision of common peace. 

Talking to other representatives from around Asia – Pacific was a fantastic way to share experiences from our own contexts. The programme provided a new context to practice dialogue in and enabled myself and the other participants to gain more insight into the contemporary issues and challenges that were brought forth to discuss. These things are called The Signs of the Times. We can look at the nature, the process and the outcome. From there we dialogue. We can talk openly. We can talk openly. We can educate. We can advocate. We are encouraged to show peace and love. A challenge I put forth to you is to be a spirit filled community and to identify someone who is different and dialogue with them. 

The Zine Project

The Movement: The Mental Health Edition

16229879_10155062028682079_2079395258_oOver summer, some students put together a ‘zine’ (a self-published, creative mini magazine) to introduce our focus for the next few years – student wellbeing. It has puzzles, activities and information about what SCM is about.  These are being shared with students across the country during Orientation weeks soon!

Want some Zines posted out to you? Email wellbeing(at)scm.org.nz your details for a copy!

The Wilderpeople at Festival One

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The Wilderpeople Collective stall at Festival One

Over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, SCM was part of the Wilderpeople Collective at Festival One, a Christian Music festival in Hamilton. The Wilderpeople are all about the hard questions in the wilderness, and the aim was to create a safer space for people to engage with faith, sexuality and identity.


The stall was decked out in activities, questions and conversation starters. The Living Library gave festival goers the chance to ‘borrow’ a person to hear their story. Documentaries played on a screen for people to put on some headphones for a listen. There was badge making, body art and continuums.

The first day was busy – people coming to talk, learn, talk and challenge. Such great feedback, so many people were so happy to see a stall about inclusivity – and people said they felt safe to ask the questions they have struggled with.

After the first half day, the Wilderpeople were asked to strip the stall of all LGBT+ references, in order to be more ‘family friendly.’ They tried to make it work – but it was no longer a space where people could safely explore these ideas. The Wilderpeople chose to leave when they were told they couldn’t restore the stall to it’s original state – and people noticed that the LGBT+ voice was silenced.

The Wilderpeople plan to keep having these conversations.

Expressions of Interest Sought for Women’s Coordinator Role

The Student Christian Movement in Aotearoa is looking for a new Women’s Coordinator to sit on the National Coordinating Group. This role involves being a voice for gender equality in the life and work of SCM, and representing SCM in other forums where a voice for women needs to be heard. Our Women’s Coordinator will also connect with sub regional and global women’s networks.

Hear from our previous Women’s Coordinator, Rauhina Scott-Fyfe on her time in the role:

“In my capacity as Women’s Coordinator  this year, I have represented SCM at various forums, such as a panel discussion on Oil Drilling, a community dinner on Peace in Palestine, a youth forum on the Church’s response to the issue of child poverty, an interfaith group supporting LGBTI rights, the Council of Trade Unions Women’s Conference, and the Wellington Anglican Diocese ‘Radical Tea Party’ events, including discussions on ‘The Feminist Jesus’ and ‘The Elephant in the Room’ (LGBTI rights in the church). At the 2014 SCMA National Conference in Dunedin, SCMers attended a ‘March for Consent’, promoting awareness about rape culture in tertiary institutions in Aotearoa.

By far our highlight for the 2014-2016 year was organising and hosting the World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific Subregional Women’s Programme at Karitane, New Zealand (December 2014). The overarching theme was ‘Healing ourselves, our communities and our planet’. Women from more than nine countries around Asia-Pacific attended.”
More information or to talk about the role more, please email the National Office. Expressions of interest welcomed to natsec@scm.org.nz by Friday 15th July.

Women’s Conference in Bangladesh

A Place at the Table

By Rachel Tombs

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From November 24-30th 2015, I attended the Asia Pacific Regional Women’s Programme titled “Reclaiming my identity: Building theological and critical reflection on body, sexuality, violence against women and the sexual minorities”. This programme was hosted by Bangladesh SCM and held in the Church of Bangladesh retreat centre in Savar. This coincided with the beginning of the UN 16 days of activism campaign, including the international day for the elimination of gender based violence. It was pretty cool to have these conversations during a time the issue is in the hearts and minds of so many globally. We wore orange ribbons as a reminder we were part of a much bigger picture. In our sessions we followed the Asian feminist theologizing spiral: naming the realities, identifying reinforcing agents and dominant theory, feminist critique and offering an alternative, providing action for transformation. This began with talking about violence against women in our country and looking at the situation in more detail in Bangladesh. Violence against women is a pandemic. It is suggested by the UN to be the experience of 1/3 of females worldwide. Unfortunately, everyone of us had stories of gender based violence manifesting in our own lives. The problem is so big it’s hard to know what we can do. After this workshop I would suggest the starting point should be listening to and validating women’s experiences.

The study of Genesis chapter three led by Dr Hope S Antone offered a new perspective on women as a creation of God. Eve is often blamed for the original sin, seen as a temptress and a troublemaker. Instead Hope suggested we could see “bone of my bone” as an image of mutuality or consider the translation to be without gender to simply mean earthling. Hope called for us to affirm ourselves as daughters of Eve, a limitless masterpiece rather than tainted or gullible. Bible study continued with guest speaker Rev David Das (general secretary of NCC Bangladesh). He challenged us to read our own bible and not that handed down by our brothers, husbands or fathers. His words echoed our previous study that violence is a sin which disregards the image of God. Churches have a responsibility to offer support and healing to victims. They can also offer possibilities of healing to the perpetrator of the violence. In reclaiming our identity it is necessary to also reclaim and rename our image of God, from the father of judgement to considering the image of God as a mother, a friend or simply a being.

The oppression of LGBT people was the main focus of the later days. This began with a “Sexual Minorities 101” session, clearing up the definitions and participants original perceptions. I was somewhat saddened when initially the majority agreed with the statement “God disagrees with Homosexuality”. The conversation developed addressing the questions: What is sexuality? Why doesn’t the church talk about it? And of course what does the bible actually say about homosexuality? For our exposure we visited Bandhu (“friends”) society a Dhaka based organisation supporting the health and welfare of sexual minorities. Shale Ahmed (organisation director) explained the biggest challenge to LGBT acceptance is “religious notions”. How unfortunate it is that world religions, which are sought after to provide refuge and peace are agents of oppression. Some participants left the exposure really keen to encourage further LGBT acceptance in their churches and national SCM. Our group dialogue switched focus to transformative action. The key suggestions were: 1) providing fellowship, getting to know LGBT people, listening to their stories and treating them with friendship and 2) continuing to educate ourselves and others on these issues. Despite initial hesitation the ending consensus was all humans are creations of God and thus this love should be shown to all. One participant said “after this week I’m not scared of those people anymore”.

The women I met from WSCF were truly wonderful, I consider them sisters and friends. However the initial prejudice they held of the LGBT community, disgruntled me significantly. If I heard some of these comments from people in New Zealand it would colour my entire view of their character. This experience taught me much about sharing meals, laughter and selfies with women who aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet as me. In order to move forward together we must start where people are. This means not leaving people behind just because they aren’t where we are.  The closing worship included the song “A place at the table”. This was a fitting summary for my time in Bangladesh. Firstly because we were so well hosted, the food was always delicious. But secondly there should be a place at our table for everyone; those we disagree with, those who are oppressed and marginalised, the victim, the perpetrator. It is here, sitting at the table, listening with openness will bring real progress to our understanding of violence against women and the sexual minorities.

Kia Ora from the SCM Cabin

Kia ora from the SCM Cabin. Tucked away in a section of native bush which edges onto Victoria University’s campus, you’ll find myself – Hayley Heyes – and Josh Reid writing, reading, praying, and having a yarn. Since October last year the Cabin has been in use as an office space for Christian Postgraduate Students who are in need of a place to work. Unfortunately, many Honours – and even some Masters level – programs no longer provide an office for candidates, compounding the stress and loneliness of Postgraduate study. We really are thankful to SCM for the space to study together and enjoy inviting friends to come by and hear the story of SCM.

Josh is continuing his work on William Colenso – a printer, botanist, and missionary – whose story is only partial told in the recordjoshs of New Zealand’s colonial history. And I have just finished up a lengthy critique of the contemporary university, and am moving on to examine the work of French Marxist Alain Badiou. Dell Watson, who shared the office with us over summer, has finished her thesis and we now have room for another student to join. Please do get in touch if you are a Postgraduate Student at Victoria in need of an office.

Peace in Christ,

Hayley Heyes

WSCF Appoints new Chairperson and Co-vice Chairperson 

 On March 17, 2016, the WSCF Executive Committee elected Georgine Kengne Djeutane as Chairperson and Salma Charaf as Co-vice Chairperson. Georgine and Salma join Immanuel Kitnan, as Co-vice Chairperson and Bronwyn Claire as Honorary Treasurer of WSCF until the next General Assembly. The elections concluded a three-month search process led by the Search Committee.

Chairperson

unnamed.jpgMs Georgine Kengne Djeutane (Cameroon) has been performing the duties of WSCF Interim Chairperson after the 35th General Assembly in March 2015 and until the Chairperson elections in March 2016. Former Africa Regional Secretary, Georgine is an Economist by training. She received a Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) in Economics Sciences. In addition she also trained on Project management, Monitoring and Evaluation, Fundraising, Conflict Resolution, Gender and Human Rights, Anti-Corruption Campaign, Lobby and Advocacy, Management for Head of Project and Organization of Development in Africa and Corporate Governance.

In her past experience, she served on an advisory board for the Nairobi Peace Initiative Africa (NPI-A), the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) and the Progamme for Christians and Muslims Relationship in Africa (PROCMURA). She is a recipient of the McArthur Foundation Prize on Research on “Real Economy in Africa”. She is the author of several articles related to debt issues published in Scholarly journals.

Ms Georgine is a committed Christian. She has been working since her graduation with faith-based organization as part of her commitment to serve Jesus Christ. She has a good grasp of the Ecumenical vision, great experience with church, church-related and ecumenical organizations at national, regional and especially at the international level given her past job as the WSCF Regional Secretary for Africa and the Vice Chaiperson of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance based in Geneva. She is committed and empowered to serve students and young people with ability to work and communicate in cross-cultural setting. She is also a graduate of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey. Currently working as a consultant with a Research organization and planning to finalize her PhD.

Vice-Chairperson

unnamed-1.jpgSalma Charaf (France), currently based in Paris, is a student of International Relations and Management. Salma grew up in Morocco, in a multicultural and open-minded Russian-Moroccan family. She got to know WSCF when she started her university studies in France, where she joined SCM France. Through her SCM, Salma met the WSCF General Secretary, got inspired, and decided to participate in her first WSCF project taking place in UNESCO. In 2014, Salma was invited to take part in the inter-regional leadership development program in Jordan and Palestine, where she discovered the real spirit of WSCF. When she returned to Paris, Salma became the main international contacts person of SCM Paris, and continued to be involved in WSCF-European projects representing her SCM, recently reconnecting this old WSCF member with the Region.

In parallel to her studies, Salma did several internships in France and abroad. Her first professional experience was junior consultant’s position in a management consultancy firm in Moscow. Later Salma decided to try herself in human resource recruitment consultancy, which led her to a sector manager’s position for a commercial company in Paris. These experiences allowed Salma to gain professional skills such as leadership and management skills. Today, Salma is closely engaged in ecumenical and cultural life of her SCM, and currently she also represents WSCF at UNESCO.

The Chair and Vice-Chair will be dealing with the following tasks:

  1. Accountable to the General Assembly;
  2. Chairing meetings (Executive Committee, General Assembly and other meetings where required);
  3. Nurturing the worldwide fellowship and preserving the unity of the Federation;
  4. Interpreting the work and needs of the Federation to churches and the wider ecumenical movement;
  5. Supporting the work of the executive staff of the Federation;
  6. Ensuring that the goals, priorities and mandate of the General Assembly are acted upon in accordance with the Constitution.

Appeal for financial support for the Regional Women’s Coordinator of the WSCF A-P

Dear General Secretaries, National Coordinators, Senior Friends and well-wishers of WSCF Asia pacific,

We the members of the Regional Women’s Committee would like to share our concerns and specific requests through this appeal.

Background:

We are thankful to God, for the blessings  that have been received from   the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF).  Since the foundation of the Federation in 1895  the SCMs, individual members have  nurtured  the WSCF and sustained it’s unique ministry among student communities with their significant efforts.  Particularly we are thankful for the leadership and our committed senior friends and SCMs for their continuous supports for the WSCF  Asia-Pacific region.

Throughout the history, we have heard and many of our ecumenical leaders have witnessed, the ups and downs within the Federation. And every time the Federation has come up with creative ideas and new directions to overcome those challenges, with the support of committed members. And the important  work of the WSCF is carried out by the members of each movement.  These members spread the spirit of ecumenism,  and articulate our Christian faith into praxis by amplifying voices  for  justice and peace. The work of the WSCF AP region has produced many young ecumenical leaders to work for education rights, eco-justice, human rights, and most importantly empowerment of women and gender justice.

 In spite of our continuous initiatives, we are still struggling  and working hard against violence against women, gender discrimination, patriarchal and hierarchical society in our region.  The patriarchal values, practices, the tradition continues to affect  the life of  the majority of women in different contexts in our region.  WSCF as a faith-based community,  we believe in equity and justice for all people. Hence, our Christian faith has inspired us and we are called to work for the rights of women within our family, communities, and society at large.  With this conviction, the SCM women of the WSCF AP region came together to form the Regional Women’s Committee in 1984 to mainstream the work of gender justice and women leadership within the federation with an emphasis on  Regional Women’s Programme (RWP) for the young SCM women of WSCF AP. The  AP region decided to appoint a full-time staff to work on the RWP, to do justice to the cause. The AP region is probably the only region which has a women’s coordinator besides the regional secretary as a staff of the region.

 Since it’s inception the RWP have created space/avenues for many young SCM women through regional women’s programmes. The RWP have produced hundreds of young women leaders. These young women’s perspectives have changed positively the way they view themselves, the oppressive culture and the community where they belong. Their view of the Bible has been challenged through the use of feminists Bible studies. RWP is a blessing for our region and these women to have the ability to run and facilitate this initiative.

 Many young SCM women have found the safe space RWP creates.  They are unique spaces, where they come together to share their own stories and struggles to be empowered and liberated. Hundreds of women have been inspired, encouraged and enriched through the RWP and today they are serving as women leaders in our communities, churches and civil societies.

 Financial challenge:

Unfortunately, this very RWP is facing difficulties to continue it’s important work among the young women due to  financial constraints.  Today the whole ecumenical organizations are facing financial challenges and WSCF (AP) is not an exception. 

 The Asia-Pacific Standing Committee are now finding it difficult to support the salary of the full-time staff of the regional women’s programmes. The current Regional Women’s Coordinator Ms. Nina Nayoan from SCM Indonesia, who herself is a product of the regional women’s program of WSCF AP has led the Regional Women’s Programme of the region since 2012, based in the regional

office in Hong Kong. It is the responsibility of the Asia-Pacific region to pay for her salary and living costs in Hong Kong.  But the financial support for the regional women’s programmes is not enough to support both the programme expenses and the staff salary.

 Therefore, we the RWC members with the Standing Committee of the WSCF AP region coming to you with a specific request for financial support towards the salary of the Regional Women’s Coordinator for the next 4 months.

 We come to seek support from SCMs, Senior friends, Individual members because we are benefited from the  WSCF AP programmes in some or the other way.  Moreover, we still believe and uphold  the principle of sharing as a community, as we are reminded by the story of 5 loaves and 2 fishes in the Bible, which fed thousands of people through sharing their resources. And we strongly believe that WSCF as a family upholds the values of sharing, caring and solidarity.

 We, young women, want to continue the unique work of the regional women’s programme (RWP) in the region which has been empowering the young women of Asia for decades. Therefore, we need your financial support to sustain this unique initiative until we find some other alternative to make it self-supported. 

 Please click the link below to read some news/ personal stories of SCM young women who participated in the RWP

http://www.wscfap.com/regional-womens-programme.html

 We have already received some positive responses from generous senior friends and partners. Here is the link for the list of contributors:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18Tmf85VPLvuOjoDt7hw1MgSl51WwUFOywOqqIwWRtqQ/edit?usp=sharing

Kindly  let us know your pledges/ support by sending an email to Ms. Sunita Suna, WSCF Regional Executive for A-P Region, at wscfap@netvigator.com and or update  the list by entering your donations in the google doc.

Please click this link for payment methods:

http://www.wscfap.org/whoweare/contact/support-wscfap.html

Thanking you in advance for your support and we look forward to hearing from you,

 With warm regards,

 Regional Women’s Committee Members

WSCF Asia –Pacific

Save the WSCF by joining the “Give One, Be One” Campaign to raise funds to support the WSCF

Peace greetings to you from WSCF AP!

I am writing this urgent mail to you all for your immediate response and action for the follow up of our commitment during the 21st RCM. On behalf of all the movements I conveyed our concerns, suggestions and recommendations to the WSCF Global Executive Committee ( ExCo) about the $1 minimum campaign. The ExCo considered our suggestions and have changed the name of the campaign to “Give One, Be One”. Hope you all have received enough information about this campaign from the Inter-Regional Office from Christine Housel.

I am sure all the SCMers will agree with me that through the SCMs, WSCF has played a significant role in our lives, in developing our perspectives, enabling our critical thinking, shaping our life to affirm justice, and peace, and inspiring us to play a prophetic role in the Church and Society. Weather it was Local, National, Regional or Inter-Regional level programmes and initiatives of WSCF – it has contributed profoundly in our personal transformation as well as in our own communities. WSCF is committed to continue the work among the student communities to promote and produce more ecumenical leaders.

It needs no further explanations that in order to continue the pioneering work of over a century, besides commitment, dedication and time of students, senior friends, WSCF needs financial resources. You might be aware that WSCF is going through a severe financial crisis. Unfortunately, this is the reality of all most all the ecumenical organisations globally! There is an ever increasing decline of resources / funds, and the financial support by some of our traditional funding partners to our programmes are completely stopped, making it highly difficult for us to continue our ongoing work. This is a crucial period for the federation. The financial condition of the federation is so severe that the Federation is at the verge of going “bankrupt” and there will be no corporate or government to bailout us – it will be SCMers like you and me, who have been benefited by the Federation in one way or the other, we will have to “bailout” ourselves. Its “payback time” for us. For more than 100 years WSCF continued to generate student leaders. Now WSCF need your support in this challenging time. We look forward to your financial support for the federation.

Otherwise this centuries old student and youth ecumenical movement will die an untimely death and there by deprive the future generations from taking advantage of the ecumenical exposures and opportunities offered by the WSCF.

Therefore we are inviting all the SCMers to join us in raising funds for the federation. “Give One, Be One” is a campaign encouraging all the SCMers to contribute whatever little financial support you can. We are requesting the National Movements to take the initiatives to help us in collecting the financial contributions from your SCM members.

WSCF’s strength is the thousands of SCM units in more than 100 countries, hundreds or thousands of members : both students and senior friends. If each one of us can pay a small amount every year to the Federation and the Federation will be self-sufficient, only to divert back the energy and money through various programmes and activities to the SCMs back again. And the cycle goes on. We will have to depend less and less on the external support from the donors, who are stopping their grants day by day.
According to the 21st RCM’s decision 15% of all the contribution will remain in the region and 85% will be sent to the IRO. You may send the 85% funds directly to the IRO in the given fund transfer details below and 15% to the WSCF AP region. Or you may send the 100% of your contribution to the WSCF AP region and we will arrange to send the 85% to the IRO.

Attached please find the details of fund transfer of WSCF AP.

If at any time the WSCF needed your support the most, it is now! Kindly try your best to support this cause. Please let us know once you have done the transfer.

ACCOUNT OWNER : WORLD STUDENT CHRISTIAN FEDERATION

ECUMENICAL CENTRE, CH-1218 LE GRAND-SACONNEX, SWITZERLAND

SWIFT/BIC : BCGECHGGXXX

IBAN / USD : CH95 0078 8000 L079 0081 1

IBAN / EUR : CH86 0078 8000 U322 6548 0

IBAN / CHF : CH03 0078 8000 U077 5827 5

PayPal – http://www.wscfglobal.org

Thanking you and looking forward to hearing from you,
Sunita Suna
Regional Secretary
(On behalf of the Standing Committee – WSCF AP)