13 May 2014

A Bit of Fun: Testimonial and Photograph for WSE blog I wrote in early April

Before entering the Women’s Spirituality program at CIIS, Cristina was a writing teacher at CSU, Long Beach.  Along with teaching at CSULB, she also worked as an interfaith chaplain and helped to coordinate, at the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) on campus, a project to end violence towards women students. 

She had studied English Women’s Literature for her BA and MA, and she was trying to figure out the next step for herself.  Decreasing funds for teachers and project coordinators on campus were forcing many of her colleagues to leave California, and Cristina thought it was probably a good time to go back to school.   Her own personal life circumstances also encouraged her to make a change with her life. 

“Being a lover of literature, I escaped into books and pretended that the traumas of life didn’t exist.  I didn’t know how to live in reality, and after being trained as a sexual assault crisis counselor with the WRC, I realized I had been living in a rape culture all along.  I realized violence was normal in my daily life, and I decided I had had enough.”

One of Cristina’s mentors at the WRC told her about the PhD program in Women’s Spirituality at CIIS.  At the same time, Cristina was invited to co-coordinate a farm community with four other women.  She decided to enter the WSE program as a semi-distance student.

“It was perfect. I worked on the farm all day – weeding and harvesting – and then I worked on my papers on ecofeminist thought!  Before entering the PhD program,  I had no idea that women and the Earth were an integral part of women’s spirituality! That year turned out all kinds of synergy.”

Finishing her first year and writing, in that, a paper on her motherline, Cristina decided it was time to explore her Xicana and Filipina ancestral lineage.  While completing her coursework, she traveled to New Mexico and the Philippines.  She was able to meet and learn from her personal role models, including Leny Strobel, Cherrie Moraga, and Ana Castillo.   And through WSE, she worked as Ana Castillo’s Teaching Assistant.   Cristina connected with scholars in the fields of mestiza discourse, pedagogies of the sacred, and indigenous Filipina epistemologies. 

“Suddenly I was writing a dissertation that brought together my love of literature as well as acknowledged the painful experiences in myself, my ancestors, and my communities due to racism and colonization as well as sexism and patriarchy.”

As Cristina wrote her dissertation, she also developed her creative writing and has had a few of her pieces published in anthologies such as Mujeres de Maiz: Ofrendas of the Flesh and Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets.  

Cristina is currently working to complete her dissertation.   Check out her progress at cristyroses.blogspot.com.


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