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Christian Union
October 15, 2019

Graduate School of Design Ministry Hosts Finals’ Event

By Eileen Scott, Contributing Writer

 

This spring, the Harvard Graduate School of Design Christian Fellowship offered a soothing cup of tea and encouraging conversation to 200 students in the midst of final projects, writing essays, and perfecting drawings.

 

TeaSummer19On April 27, ministry leaders hosted a Finals Tea for their colleagues at the Graduate School of Design. The event, which began four years ago, is designed to offer calm amidst the academic storm and give students an appreciation for sabbath rest. It’s a critical gesture of kindness during a time when students can become so overwhelmed they are susceptible to depression, and even thoughts of suicide, according to event coordinator and design student Vivian Kuong.

The Finals Tea was spot on in providing respite that allowed sabbath peace to permeate the lives of students who often plow through busy schedules without much thought of the power of rest. Kuong helped transform the Stubbins Room of Gund Hall into a sanctuary; candles burned in the dimly lit room that was fragranced by fresh flowers. Acoustic worship music helped to soothe frayed nerves.

 

Kuong, who completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California Los Angeles, said the tea has become a highlight of the semester and finals for classmates.

“[The tea] has become a means by which our classmates have begun to encounter the presence of God and the meaning of His rest,” she said. “Although two hours may seem like a paltry sabbath, it can feel like an eternity to a student who is averaging three hours of sleep, or less, a night.”

Kuong recalled the strength and joy she experienced during her first year at the design school when she accepted a classmate’s invitation to join him in practicing Sabbath for Lent.

Before that, “It was simply impossible to think of a day (or even a few hours) of rest in the week,” she said. “Practicing Sabbath is definitely against the culture of the school. It’s an atmosphere where everyone is trying to gain as much as they can.”

However, after witnessing all that her friend accomplished while not working on Sundays, Kuong said she was encouraged to build trust and faith in God by putting aside work and resting in His presence.

“I understand my value and identity in Christ more and learned to honor God by not being a slave to the academic institution,” she said. 

Fellow Graduate School of Design student Jessica Lim was glad to have a chance to share the power of sabbath rest with others.

 “The Finals Tea is an opportunity to serve my classmates, my closest neighbors in this season at school,” said Lim, a native of New Zealand and alumna of the University of Auckland. “It’s an important moment we share each semester to remember that God’s will for us is not stress and anxiety. We can freely receive peace and joy from Him.”

“Many of our classmates mentioned that it was one of the best events of the semester, and they really looked forward to it,” Kuong said, noting how students are, subsequently, more receptive to engage in conversations about Christianity and faith.

All in all, the blend of community, tea drinking, and pausing for sabbath rest created an atmosphere that calmed the anxiety of overwhelmed students and pointed them toward God’s  sacred peace, a peace beyond all understanding, that is accessible during finals and beyond. 

 
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