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Student Testimonials

We are proud of every student who has chosen to study in the “Ecumenical Studies” program, and are happy to hear back from them anytime they write or visit. Here are some of the impressions the MESt has left on our students, we are deeply moved. The story continues!

(This page is being updated regularly.)

 

1.       Academic Content

"The program was one of the best choices I have made in my life. The curriculum is best designed to learn ecumenism and its movement across the world, and the friendly staff and lecturers make the program even better. The MESt does not only concern the theological interpretation on reconciliation among Christian denominations but also the global/local transformation and justice in the eyes of Christianity. Also, the city, Bonn, and the University provide the perfect conditions for international student life. Come and join the program!"

(Hyukmin K., South Korea)

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"I can honestly say that there are few programs like the MESt out there. In my cohort, we all came from different denominations, countries, cultures, political leanings, life stages - in essence, we represented the cross-section of the global Church. Unity in diversity became a lived experience, rather than a theoretical concept. At times it was challenging but in hindsight, it was very rewarding. The lessons learned both inside and outside the classroom have proven relevant, not only for my own personal faith but also in my professional life, particularly when navigating diversity in team settings. I am grateful for having the opportunity to study alongside some of the most passionate ecumenical leaders out there and to have the freedom to explore some of the tough questions related to Christian unity. I encourage anyone with an interest in ecumenism to apply. After all, there's still much work to be done and in many ways, this ecumenical mission is only just begun."

(Thien-An N., Canada)

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“MESt to me is a composite mini world and global in physical representation and curricula. It has immensely enriched my academic potency for its sound ecumenical content induced with the intra-faith and inter-faith mechanism that is capable to incorporate widely diverse students, faculties and staff within a canvas of friendly atmosphere. The MESt, too, encouraged me to look forward and I earned my Ph.D from the same University. If one wants to test a unique and well-balanced approach to study, you can rely on the MESt.”          

(Tapas G., India)

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“The MESt program has provided me with the methodological and attitudinal tools which are required in order to participate in truly intercultural and ecumenical efforts. At the same time, it has allowed me to articulate a solid Western academic formation with the cultural sensitivity that working and researching in the global Church requires.“

(Daniel Jara J. – Ecuador)

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"Students in the MESt Program have great opportunities to approach ecumenical matters in a number of different ways. Lecturers involve us in their research, for example on the Bible, the Philosophy of Religion, the History or Social theories. Moreover, this program offers internship courses which make us understand other traditions on a practical level. This varied and organized approach to ecumenism is in my opinion one of the greatest strengths of the MESt. Also, students from other denominations from around the world have become my friends and broadened my horizon. "

(Seunghyun. Y., South Korea)

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“When I joined the MESt, I already had great experience in ecumenism on the local and international level. At first, I hesitated, not sure if the MESt can further contribute to my ecumenical formation. But from the very beginning, from the first lectures I was fascinated and challenged at the same time. I enjoyed very much the wide range of topics from Liturgical Studies to Canon Law, from Dogmatics to political organization, from the early church times up to most recent times. Especially important was its truly ecumenical spirit and academic quality. For me, the MESt became not only a step towards my further academic formation, but had a meaning in itself, and when I came back to Bonn for my PhD program, I also enrolled in and attended more MESt courses, as I always found the content worthy and inspiring. Maybe, one day, I can come back to the MESt in another capacity, to teach, that would be my dream.”

(Natalia V. – Belarus)

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“After eight years of studying theology in the US and in Togo, I came across the MESt. This program has completely enriched my knowledge and understanding of different Christian denominations, cultural and ethnic traditions, and religions from across the globe. We live in a colourful world, full of different beliefs and practices, and as a theologian one needs to have a better understanding of the world around them. And that is exactly what the MESt has given me. What impressed me the most about the MESt is the highly qualified professors, with their vast knowledge and experience. The office team was exceptionally patient and supportive as well, helping me adapt to a new learning environment. Overall, I am extremely honoured to have taken part in this program.”

(Christelle A. – Togo)

“It was a transformative experience in my life. I enrolled in the program as a student, and graduated as a potential academic. The process helped me to find my professional way, working on Persian Christian literature.

In the MESt program I learned not only from the lectures, also from my international and lovely classmates. Nevertheless, I have moral debt to two of them: Dhananjaya and Alice.”

(Ali B. Langroudi, Iran)

  

“I chose to do the MESt program because of its practical importance on global topics today. Through the participatory seminars, lectures and the resident internships with different bodies, I developed both my soft and practical skills. This has made me competitive in any further academic and career opportunity I aspire. With the dedicated and responsive attitude of the staff (program coordinators and lecturers alike), I had a zero chance of being disappointed anytime in the program. I have however wished, that many applicants to the MESt program would have the opportunity of the prestigious MESt scholarship to make it easier for many others to live this dream.“

(Asiedu F., Ghana)

 

2.       Multicultural environment  

“From my perspective, the MESt program is a window to the world. The diverse nature of this program, coupled with a team of dedicated and supportive lecturers and staff, make it unique. I learned a lot from the MESt as a Christian, a member of the society and a professional.”

(Theresia N.F., Cameroon)

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“Thank you MESt Family. I am so thankful for all your hard work. The program is remarkable, you will learn how to talk and engage in an ecumenical setting, and most importantly, you will find a very caring and homely environment to study and grow while you are there.”

(Hanna K., South Korea)

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“My one year in the MESt program at Bonn University was among the best years of my life. Born and raised in a rural part of Nepal, understanding traditional Hindu culture since I was a child, the Ecumenical Studies program was both challenging and inspiring for me, however, the effective family-like and rigorous learning environment and dedicated staff not only supported me in pursuing the degree, but also paved ways for my career back home. Manifold activities and engagement during lectures, research, and the internship have enhanced my capacity as an article writer, government staff, and a self-reliant young woman who is the voice of voiceless women and girls. Multicultural adaptation has been excelled due to the knowledge and understanding of another culture, in particular as a Hindu woman by birth studying Christian denominations."

(Mira K., Nepal)

 

 

“At the MESt I have found a unique ecumenical atmosphere. Professors from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds are always ready to discuss with the students and support them in their learning process. Also my colleagues at the MESt were from different religious and cultural backgrounds. This made us curious to know each other and we easily established friendships outside the University program. In the end, I believe that being at the MESt allowed me and my mates to build durable friendships and, thanks to the classes we took, to understand more about the other's confessions as well as one's own faith.”

(Roberto P., Italy)

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“The professors and lecturers of the MESt program are great. The lectures have multi-denominational perspectives and the teachers are culturally sensitive. For instance, my voice was always heard in the seminar, although my English was not so fluent as the other European students and my Church experience is also very different with them.

In the program, I also had the chance to make friends with Christians from other denominations. We hung out, drank beer, and talked about our Church experience. Through the lectures and the personal contact, I began to realize the complexity of other denominations and to discard some wild preconceptions about them.

The administrative staff are awesome as well. They are nice, supportive and effective. They understand well what the difficulties a foreigner in Germany may have and are always willing to give help.  Es ist ganz toll!”

(Yu C., China)

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“The MESt is truly an international program. You will learn a lot from your professors and a lot from your peers giving you a global perspective on Christianity.”

 

(Benjamin H., USA)

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“I studied in the MEESt from 2015-2017. I have to say I remember my time there as one of the best times in my life so far, not only because of the subject of Ecumenism itself (which I feel very passionate about, especially after graduating) but also because of the people I was lucky to meet there. I think one of the most important aspects of the Ecumenical enterprise in general, is the relational aspect that includes friendships. I was indeed expecting to study hard and to meet different people from different denominations and backgrounds, but I did not expect to find some of my very best friends here whom now I can call my family here in Germany. That factor changes everything you think you know about Ecumenism and ecumenical relations on a personal level. The Professors, the seminars and lectures, the University, the wonderful coordination, and staff, together with the students, is what makes this program both academically and personally challenging. For sure everyone with enough theological knowledge and passion for Ecumenism will find a place to grow as I did. Enjoy your time here, it is a marvelous opportunity!“

(Gabriela C., Mexico)

    

“The MESt has been a guide for me, for the way I look at the ecumenical aspects of religion. Only due to the MESt could I imagine myself carry on my studies in religious studies. Your support and kindness has made a positive impression of German society on me. I have learned one thing during my stay with MESt which is never give up, try again. I also learned the multicultural aspect of life being with other international fellows. I am happy that I was a part of the MESt. Thank you.”

(Sajida F., Pakistan)

 

  “Kia Ora from Aotearoa New Zealand!

It is my pleasure to share with you the testimonial of my experience of the MESt programme.

The best word for me to describe the whole MESt experience is seminal. It sowed many seeds from which the fruits are emerging that are enriching both my professional and personal life.

I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship by DAAD to be able to afford to take one year´s study leave from my work as a secondary school teacher in the field of Religious Education at a Catholic school in Auckland. My school was very supportive in being able to take this leave and then return to be able to apply what I had learnt.

A topic in the Religious Education curriculum is the reformation, which I have always had a fascination in personally and professionally, and I was always curious to find out the underlying causes to find means of being able to heal the divisions that emerged. This perhaps was influenced from within my own family where there were Catholic and Church of England roots.

Through my teaching I had also developed an interest in Martin Luther, and I was curious to find out what was going on in his head, and to really understand the context which leads to him initiating the reformation.  So the opportunity to study in Bonn worked perfectly and what better place to be than Germany where the Reformation took root, especially with 500 years having passed since it began.

The town of Bonn itself was a fantastic place to study, a real University town with fantastic student life. There is a beautiful natural environment on its doorstep, and I spent plenty of weekends hiking around the Siebenbirge hills.

Bonn also has plenty of history, and it sits equidistant to Catholic and Protestant strongholds which makes it the perfect place to study Ecumenism.

Additionally with its role as the capital of Germany during the Cold War, it was a significant pivot point in this period of human history, so it knows well the art of diplomacy, an essential tool for ecumenical relationships.

There´s an old saying that goes, you only get out what you put in, so whilst I was in Bonn I made the most of every opportunity to pursue my academic interests. This included attending lectures and workshops provided by the Professors as well as asking them lots of questions so that I could better understand what was being taught. The awesome thing was that they were able to do this in English as my German language skills were average to begin with. The Professors I worked with had an incredible intellect. It was also incredible to know that alumni that had passed through Bonn, including Pope Benedict XVI who had been a Theology professor in the Catholic faculty during the 1960s with some of the professors saying that they had worked with him! The support staff on the MESt programme was also incredibly helpful and helped to reduce a number of fears and anxieties as I worked with them to make sense of what I needed to do to achieve success.

An educational highlight for me was doing the oral examinations, something that is not typical of the New Zealand education system at secondary or tertiary level but it is in Europe.

Preparing for an oral examination and going through the process was such an exhilarating experience. I described it to others like being in a boxing match. I had to be well prepared and come out firing punches, and counterpunches to any questions thrown back to me by the professors. It felt like I was taking on intellectual ‘heavyweights’ and I was just a mere amateur boxer. The whole experience resonated with me, that I have been trying to influence educators in New Zealand to consider it as an assessment option. It encourages the development of a different range of academic skills which are relevant to the real world.

Our standard form of assessment in New Zealand is to write your answers down on a piece of paper. The Bonn experience encourages you to think on your feet in response to questions asked of you by another person in real time, which is what the real world is like. We can’t say to a person, hey hang on a minute whilst I write down the answer for you!

I was also able to have the time to pursue my research interest for my Master´s thesis which was looking at how to best provide pastoral care in an Ecumenical context to adolescents who have experienced a traumatic experience. The ecumenical problem that I was trying to solve was that in a faith based school such as the one in which I work of today, the parameters are that the students may come from various Christian backgrounds and that there are few clergy present to provide the full extent of pastoral care. The research focus was around how best to provide an effective pastoral response that respects the different Christian traditions. I found writing my thesis a rewarding experience both professionally and personally.

Bonn is in a superb location, well connected to train services that can take you all around Germany and beyond. I also made the most of the opportunity to travel around Europe and visit places significant to the reformation story such as Wittenberg, where Luther posted his 95 theses, Wartburg, where Luther went into hiding, Worms, where Luther refused to recant, and Erfurt where Luther studied theology.

I was also fortunate to spend some time in Rome courtesy of a friendship I had developed in my halls of residence and visited St Peters Basilica and the Vatican which was a centre point of Luther´s theology.

I made a number of friends during my time at Bonn, many of whom I still keep in contact with and they are able to share with me their interpretation of current events. We are also able to continue conversations about Ecumenical matters. Skype and email are fantastic tools for communication touch when you are living at the other end of the earth. Some have even come to New Zealand to pay me a visit!

There is one story that I must share from my MESt experience that is truly uncanny and it just shows that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

One of the core requirements for course completion is to undertake an internship with a denomination different to your own. I was fortunate to land a placement with the American Protestant Church in Bonn, and worked alongside the Pastor and Associate Pastor in teaching the young people. It was helpful that I had a teaching background with people of the same age to be able to carry out this role. There was a lot that I learnt from this experience, comparing and contrasting the ways in which the American Protestant Church operated to that of the Catholic Church.

The uncanny part is that it just so happened that a number of years later after having returned to New Zealand from Bonn, the associate pastor whom I worked with at the American Protestant Church in Bonn contacted me to say that he was thinking that it was now time to move on from Germany after having spent 8 years in Bonn. In fact he was exploring the possibility of doing pastoral work in New Zealand and asked my opinion of a few places he was looking at.

Then it just so happened that one of the jobs that came up happened to be in the same superb area where I live. He applied for the position, got it and moved his family to the other side of the world where we are now we are neighbours. I can see their house and Church from my house, and I am able walk to see them in 5 minutes and have a good chat about ecumenical matters! So the Ecumenical dialogue continues! Thank you MESt Bonn!”

(Daniel B., New Zealand)

 

 

 

 

 

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