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Student of the Month: Esther Chiang

Esther Chiang is finishing up an M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary where she worked at the Farminary. Esther has an interest in herbalism and spiritual direction as an integrative approach to healing.

What are you studying and what excites you in your studies?

One of my favorite classes was Society and Culture in Ancient Israel. It was a course at the Farminary where we cared for goats throughout the semester while we learned about the connections and dissonances of archeaology and the Hebrew bible. I found the class invigorating because we approached the Hebrew bible from a literary perspective and had opportunities for creative assignments such as writing our own prophecies, psalms, and rewriting biblical narratives.

Your passion lies in food justice. Could you share about your journey so far and your call to the work of food justice?

Even as a kid, I remember sharing with my friends about bubble tea (before it became a worldwide phenomenon) and making it for them as a way to share about my Taiwanese culture. Growing up, my Amah had a beautiful urban garden that looked wild to passersby. She grew grapes, apples, peaches, herbs, flowers, tomatoes, and many other veggies. I remember tasting tempura mint that she added as a garnish and how the texture and flavor opened my eyes to creative food possibilities. These experiences are foundational to how I approach food justice. I find food as a way for us to intimately hold the creative resilience of people in the midst of brutal survival, and when we share these stories with each other, I hope that people will develop more empathy and understanding.

What has your experience been with PANAAWTM?

My first PANAAWTM conference was the online one in 2021, and I remember feeling less alone in how I was wrestling with my beliefs and learnings, especially in my first year of seminary. Attending the PANAAWTM conference in San Diego this March, I felt, for the first time in a long time, more and more like myself. To be seen by all of you has kept me going and has meant so much.

What brings you hope and joy?

Young people bring me hope and joy. Generation Z and Alpha are truly funny and fascinating to me, and I can't wait to learn from them. Microorganisms in compost, fermentation, and our guts bring me hope and joy that beings unseen are working on our behalf.

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