24 April 2012

A little write-up about my Women's Spirituality Program

When I entered into the WS program at CIIS in 2010, I had no idea what to expect.  I was coming from being a lecturer of English at CSU, Long Beach.  I also worked as a women’s spiritual advocate at the Women’s Resource Center and at the Interfaith Center on campus.  My focus was on British women’s literature as well as women’s advocacy and spiritual well-being in my local communities.  Altogether, I didn’t know how to bring together my spirituality, my love of literature and academia, and my identity as a woman.  A friend and mentor told me to look up Women’s Spirituality at a school in San Francisco.

This Women’s Spirituality program has given me the space to explore my spirituality and my identity as a whole.  The WS classes have changed my life. Embodiment and integration have become a daily practice, and I’ve learned how to bring my unique voice into academic conversation.  I’ve been challenged and have grown on so many levels – from the physical to the spiritual – and I am so grateful. 

The community of women has also been one of the gifts of this program. It is here that I found an abundance of women who speak a similar language as my own.  Where in other schools and communities, I would have to be the voice to highlight the abuses of patriarchy, in WS classes, I am supported to expand my way of thinking and speaking to include the multiple oppressions in our world.  Here I am encouraged to be more sensitive to privilege as well as to grieve the violence I’ve suffered and celebrate how far I’ve come. 

And, I do believe I’ve come far.  The WS program inspired me to make the program my own.  While working on my PhD at CIIS, I’ve co-created an intentional farm community of women in Ventura County, lived on a permaculture farm in the Cuyama Valley, and studied independently in Europe.  I am currently working on my first comprehensive exam – (Re)Naming Ecofeminism – bringing in my identity as an ecofeminist mestiza, and I will present a paper on this subject at the American Academy of Religion conference in Fall 2012.

I am thankful for the WS program at CIIS, and I look forward to continuing my studies here these next couple years.