Food for Thought, by Karenne Koessler

Being born in a third world country opens your eyes in ways the first world doesn’t. I believe in the value food. A meal may seem like a common part of your day here in the states, but in the Dominican Republic, every piece of food is a reason to be thankful.

My mother worked as an adoption lawyer during my early childhood. She always took my sister and I along on trips to meet with parents looking to offer their kids a better life. I was about six years old when I met Patricia, a girl my age, who was getting ready to move across the ocean to meet her new mother. I walked up to her while she played in the dirt. Keeping herself entertained with sticks and rocks. She smiled at me and invited me to join her. Her clothes may have been ripped, and she may not have remembered when her last meal was, but still, she smiled.

After a few hours of conversation and review, my mom finalized the adoption and Patricia, with nothing but the clothes on her back, hopped in the car, waved goodbye to her father, and drove back to the capital with us. That afternoon she feasted, after filling her plate with my family’s home cooking, she cleared every bit of mofongo, rice, beans, chicken, carne de res, and yucca off of it. Patricia thanked my mother and grandparents, for allowing her the blessing of her first healthy meal and for welcoming her into their home, she also made sure to ask for seconds.

I never leave food on my plate. I rarely toss out portions of a meal, and I never take my health for granted. We didn’t always have a full fridge, and the food wasn’t always rich in flavor, but a meal was better than none, and my sister and parents and I, all learned that lesson at a very young age.

I cringe at the sight of food in the garbage.

I always try to encourage my friends to serve themselves a realistic portion and empty their plates. My leftovers will never reach someone impoverished across the ocean, but it might make the homeless man down the street smile. I understand the pain of hunger and I, more than anything, respect those who are not as fortunate as I. I strongly believe no one has the right to dispose of a meal. I’m not sure if I’ve grown stubborn because of my family’s constant reminders to always clear my plate, but I know that there is someone out there who would do anything to eat the food I carelessly tossed out.


koessler-photoKarenne was born in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, and almost immediately migrated across the globe.  In 2005, she and her family moved from their hometown i Nancy, France, to Miami, Florida. She is currently a double major at TCU studying mechanical engineering and writing.

I Believe in Knowing About the Past, by Dr. Jim Atwood

I Believe in Knowing about the Past, by Dr. Jim Atwood

I believe that the study of history is very important.  History is the memory of civilization.  Without a working knowledge of the past, we are less likely to embrace in the present that which is meaningful, ethical and lasting.  We are also more likely to fall victim to what many see as popular, “normal,” and acceptable, though it may actually be misleading, superficial or dehumanizing.

We need context for our lives—individually as well as corporately.  To evaluate messages we receive or movements we may witness, we need firm grounding in what has happened over the long haul.  And we must evaluate.  Not to do so is to surrender both freedom and responsibility.

Imagine what it would be like were we to wake up one morning and not know anything about who we are.  What if we were to find ourselves with no memory, not knowing our name, not remembering our family, knowing nothing about our skills, values, commitments or beliefs?  What if we had no personal memory?  No memory of what we stand for, nor of what we stand against.  I suggest that most would agree that, in this situation, we would be lost, vulnerable—without foundation, without direction, just not whole and, perhaps, without hope.

Just so are nations, cultures, civilizations and communities of faith.  Our essential identities, who we are as individuals and as communities, rest not just on who we are at the present moment.  For our identities are shaped by our history and histories.  And our vision for the future is, in turn, energized by who we have become.


GA TIB BOOK Jim AtwoodA Fort Worth native, Jim Atwood serves both as an Instructor in the Department of Religion and as Assistant to the Dean in the Office of Admission, where duties include chairing the Committee on Student Selection for incoming TCU freshmen and acting as liaison for Disciples of Christ students, parents, and ministers as they explore opportunities available at TCU. After receiving the B. A. degree (summa cum laude) from TCU, he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in church history (with emphases on religion in America and American history) at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Research interests include new religious movements in the Americas, history of the Disciples of Christ, and United States church and state issues.

An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Atwood is frequently invited to speak at local churches, church youth meetings and community organizations. Atwood currently serves on the Committee on the Ministry for the Southwest Region of the Disciples of Christ as well as on the board of trustees of a seminary foundation. He is married to Kris Larson Atwood, an accomplished educational consultant who holds two degrees from TCU. The Atwoods reside in Fort Worth with their twin sons. As a family, they are deeply committed to education; they also enjoy the arts and travel (especially to England and Austria).

I Believe in a Third Culture

Author: Dana Nottingham, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in a third culture.

Finding out I was white came as quite a shock. After four and a half years of believing I was Salvadoran, my nationality was revoked. Everyone around me thought it was so funny that I had mistaken my very fair skin as brown, and my very blond hair as black. Kids. They’re so cute. They laughed and I let them, neither one of us realizing quite the impact that moment would make.

When my family moved back to The States, I went ahead and conformed. I unconsciously forgot an entire identity; I let go of my Spanish, forgot El Salvador, and attempted to proceed as usual. I faked it very well—for most of my life I even had myself convinced that I was American. Yet something just wouldn’t click. There were so many aspects of life in the US that I tried desperately to distance myself from; I began to hate the association, wondering why there was so much I didn’t understand and so much I couldn’t get other people to understand. I looked the part, but I couldn’t play it. Just hearing someone say “El Salvador” made me jump, desperately trying to become a part of the conversation. I kept meeting girls from San Salvador who didn’t understand why I considered their country to be mine as well. I didn’t even speak Spanish anymore, so in most eyes I had no credible claim to the Latin American culture.  Even I started feeling like I didn’t, and between losing a nationality and a language, I lost a big part of who I was. It is only recently that I began to come to terms with the fact that I don’t really belong to any culture. And it was in expressing this to someone that I found out there was a third culture, for people who felt just like me.

Being classified as a “third culture kid” means living outside your passport country for a significant portion of your developmental years. Essentially, TCKs are people who don’t have a country because they were never able to firmly establish their roots. When asked, most people can tell you where they are from. I can tell you where I live, but where I’m from has always been tricky. Because, true to the TCK formula, I’m not from anywhere. I belong to two countries, two cultures, two languages. I cannot define myself by either one, and I learn everyday that I don’t have to. I’m developing an entirely new perspective, coming to understand that weaving together both parts of who I am connects me with people on an entirely different level. Suddenly I understand the plight of the foreigner, I get the loneliness of the outcast, I appreciate the importance of origin—and it isn’t merely from an empathetic standpoint. I am on the same journey of self discovery, to reclaim my identity, and it has been incredible to see just how many others are on it too.