Rahiel Tesfamariam ’09 M.Div.
B.A. Stanford University 2003
I learned a lesson during my time at Yale Divinity School that I will carry me for the rest of my life: Do not be so concerned about the destination that you forget the significance of the journey. And what a journey it has been! In 2006, I was teaching 10th grade English at a public charter high school and coordinating anti-violence initiatives for youth in my hometown of Washington, DC. It was a year earlier, during my tenure as editor-in-chief of an African-American owned newspaper, The Washington Informer, that I traveled to Khartoum and the conflict-ridden region of Darfur in Sudan and felt called to ministry. My experiences as a young journalist in a time of rumored genocide, catastrophic natural disasters, Iraq war crimes and American political unrest stirred questions about theology and justice that led me to Yale Divinity School.
During my time at YDS, my commitment to addressing socioeconomic inequality and passion for international affairs were heightened more than ever before. In the classroom, I learned history and theory that greatly informed my understanding of Christian social ethics. Outside of the classroom, I made every effort to maintain a global perspective, traveling to Jamaica, China, India, Haiti, Vietnam and Brazil for various research and service projects.
The past three years, particularly my time as a Leadership in Public Ministry intern for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, have taught me that freedom struggles and transformative education deeply inform my conception of ministry. I am grateful to those faculty members and YDS alumni who challenged me to think more critically about why this may be, as well as what my intellectual and ministerial contributions to society will be in the years to come. It was their support that sustained me during my leadership in the Yale Committee for Social Justice, the Committee on Racial Equality, the Black Graduate Network and the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale.
This summer, I will be leading workshops at churches and conferences with Dr. Tricia Rose, a professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, on progressive Christian strategies for Hip-Hop.
The next step will be to make my move back to the nation's capital to work with East-of-the-River Clergy Police Community Partnership in developing grassroots, family-focused and community-based responses to juvenile crime. It seems the journey has just begun.