I love opening doors and boxes – you never know what is behind them or in them! So we all enjoyed putting together some boxes recently to send to our students who are still studying faithfully online. We thought this might be a bit of a surprise and encouragement to them to receive this in the post.
Sarah had the idea to create an activity box for the Justice & Environment module to help students engage with some of the ideas that would have otherwise been experienced in situ. This included the common table, ecosystems, agriculture, a circular economy, sabbath economics and thinking about being a producer rather than a consumer.
We can of course talk about these things, but it often takes the experience of the practice to really have an impact. Therefore, she put in items that would convey or represent these ideas, to give the students an experience that would in some way convey these ideas.
The box and its contents also needed to reflect the ethos of the subject, so everything, including the box, was ethically sourced. The contents included items such as seed bombs (for guerrilla gardening), candles for sabbath, menus for eating together, alfalfa seeds to grow and eat at the same time together, colour swatches to match with creation’s colours, poems, activity cards, photos, and a craft activity to get the students to actually produce something by the end of the week. Each day the after the teaching segment some item from the box was engaged with in some way.
These boxes were well received and proved to be an excellent teaching aid, enhancing and enriching the students’ experience.
For the MA module, Theologies in Global Perspective, we included some spices, a diary and pen, a bookmark with “Mil Maneras” on it, a prayer for each week’s theme, some aida (cross stitch) fabric and threads, a herbal tea bag and the booklet I helped to write on Creative Conversations.
Mil maneras is Spanish for a thousand ways. This comes from Gustavo Gutierrez, the founder of liberation theology, who tells us there are one thousand ways to express a preferential option for the poor. The red thread running through this module is decolonising Western perspectives through global perspectives.
For the MA module on Mission and Evangelism the box had similar content along with some seeds to plant. The red thread running through this module is reflecting on mission in uncertain times. We will take some of the interruptions, disruptions and challenges in contemporary life and use them as a way to reflect on mission and missiology. The bookmark in this box carried the words “Spirited Interruptions”.
One student said, “Receiving an unexpected parcel in the post can still raise a little thrill of pleasure that no number of emails can, so thanks for thinking of us all, for the kindness and care in considering the content, for putting it all together, and for the prompt to engage with what I am sure will be a truly inspiring and challenging module.”