As of mid-September, the 2019-2020 academic year is officially underway at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey.
A group of some 30 students have arrived at the Institute, ready to explore the academic field of Ecumenical Studies together.
"As dean of the Ecumenical Institute, I can only express gratitude and joy at seeing this new group of students gathered for a semester of studies at Bossey," reflects Fr Prof. Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi, who serves as the Institute’s academic dean since January 2018.
"Not least, it is encouraging to see such a diverse set of students gathered with us," Iwuamadi adds, observing that among the group of students, 19 countries are represented, including China, Cuba, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Madagascar, Nigeria, Romania, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States of America.
Study visit gives perspectives on 'the bigger picture'
Through a study visit on 16 September, the new students were offered a flavour of the current work of the World Council of Churches and the Ecumenical movement, and the historic role of Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.
During the visit, Fr. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC deputy general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute, spoke to the students on the topic of 'Learning to live together', noting the long-standing efforts the Ecumenical Institute makes to combine academic study with experiential learning.
"This is an exciting time of the year, where individuals from a wide range of contexts and backgrounds come together in one place - to study and work together, but also to experience what it is like to live together, and to learn about yourself through encounters with others", Sauca reflects.
Bossey students gathered for a study visit at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.
Amanda Carlshamre from Church of Sweden is one of the Ecumenical Institute's new students.
"I've been overwhelmed by the generosity and the empowerment that the institute offers us as students," Carlshamre says, and goes on to describe "a very inspiring group with all our different experiences, traditions, longings and awarenesses [sic]."
"Being at Bossey is both a great privilege and a responsibility with our churches back home and with the ecumenical fellowship. The combination of academic formation on theology and ecumenism and the everyday intercultural community sharing is indeed a very unique opportunity," adds another one of the new students, Dianet de la Caridad Martinez Valdés from Cuba.
Carlshamre concludes, "We've already started to learn and grow together as a whole. When we made a round of comments regarding our feelings having arrived at Bossey, I could clearly state that I've got the feeling I'm in the very right place at the very right time."