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Student of the Month: Jeongyun April Hur

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

I am Jeongyun April Hur (She/ Her/ Hers) who is a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont School of Theology in the field of Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy. I was born in South Korea, grew up in Australia until around 9 years of age and moved back to South Korea. I studied History and Christian Studies in Seoul Women’s University and moved to New Haven, Connecticut, for my Master of Divinity Degree at Yale Divinity School. Then I moved to Claremont in California for my Ph.D. Now I am again in South Korea, working on my dissertation, aiming to graduate in May of 2022.

What are your interests in your field of study/work?

My scholarly interest crosses the disciplines of Pastoral Theology, Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy and Christian Ethics. I am very interested in human beings; why they do what they do. I’ve always been curious to find out: “What kinds of beliefs or thoughts maximize people’s sense of agency and lead them to have fulfilling lives?”

Who has inspired you to do the work you want to do?

In terms of subjects that interest me, the experiences of myself and my family or friends become subjects that I want to know and understand more deeply. Inspiration for the work I’d want to do would be work that my professors have done. I’ve been gifted with the opportunity to learn from wonderful professors whose work has touched and inspired me. For example, Dr. Grace Kao’s work “Toward A Feminist Christian Vision of Gestational Surrogacy" enabled me to see prejudices within myself. Her writing logically explains why and how some surrogacy can be morally good. It was eye-opening for me. Dr. Duane Bidwell’s When One Religion Isn't Enough: The Lives of Spiritually Fluid People gives language and concepts to spiritually fluid people, like myself, and generates a sense of belonging and of understanding themselves. My favorite work of Dr. Kathleen Greider is Much Madness Is Divinest Sense: Wisdom in Memoirs of Soul-Suffering. Her work helped me to understand mental illness as part of humanity. I also love the gentleness portrayed in her writing. I have always thought that these works are entrepreneurial in that they provide a new language that allows us to understand the core messages of Christianity in today’s changing social and political climate. These works have widened my theological horizon and enabled me to see “humanity” in a range of phenomena and models integrity in writing and a kind heart.

Show on Netflix you have binged recently or a quarantine hobby you have picked up?

Definitely, Romance of the Three Kingdoms on Netflix—which is based on the events in the late Eastern Han dynasty and the three kingdoms period in China. It is based on famous Chinese classical novel The Romance of Three Kingdoms. Three kingdoms has been my all-time favorite novel and I am very enthusiastic about it and I cannot stop talking about this story. I love analyzing the personalities and actions of the main characters. I am amazed by the strategies they came up with to win territories and persuade people. The stories also deliver some relational truths about faithfulness and betrayal by showing what causes people to betray someone or to be faithful. My favorite character is Zhuge Liang and his faithful relationship with Liu Bei.

I love doing many kinds of outdoor activities such as canoeing, golfing, hiking, jogging, and camping. Covid-19 restricts some of these activities. While I can still enjoy some of them, a new activity that has been added to my hobby list is a Zoom ballet and a barre class. It's amazing that I can take the courses through Zoom here in South Korea that I used to take in person while I was in Claremont. I have also learned to knit my own sweater and make some cute things through YouTube and online classes.

What brings you hope?

Just reading this question made me smile. The first thing that comes to me is this platform that professors at PANAAWTM have created in order to support Asian-American students in the field of theology. To give us a chance to talk, and to find our own voices.

In terms of continuing studies, in my doctoral program I experienced hope in the relationships that I have had with professors who kindly, generously and sometimes critically and carefully nurtured me. That includes professors on my committee and the Louisville Institute where I received enormous support.

In my everyday life, I see hope in people who show kindness, gentleness, give others a smile, a listening heart, those who practice sound self-love, those who are considerate and thoughtful of others, being able to see and to acknowledge hidden efforts. There are many of them, if only I am ready to see. I believe I can see more goodness in others if I am not occupied too much with myself. Answering this question reminds me to not to be too busy or overwhelmed. So, thank you. 😊

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