- Methodist education is all about transforming lives. Being part of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities is a way of feeling a part of something bigger than one’s own institution.
- Attending IAMSCU’s international conference in the United Kingdom offered participants a chance to learn more about Methodism’s founder John Wesley and his ideas, so radically new for his time.
- Being coherent with one’s faith and principles is a huge challenge for educators, especially today.
- During the last business session, Adriana Murriello was elected president of IAMSCU. “It’s a big responsibility and a wonderful opportunity,” she says, “meaningfully framed in such a historic place!”
Adriana Murriello, general director of Colegio Ward in Argentina, recently attended the 10th joint international conference of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU) and the Methodist Schools (UK) in the United Kingdom. The multicultural gathering April 25-May 1 included educators from Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. The conference was held at three U.K. sites: London, Bath/Bristol and Cambridge, and commemorated Wesley’s founding of the Kingswood School in Bath 275 years ago. Here, she shares her reflections.
All over the world, we are living difficult times. People are disappointed and sometimes feel hopeless because the horizon is blurred. This especially affects the young, who look for education in Methodist institutions. Our faculty, staff and families suffer the same. In a way, the world has become smaller and closer, but at the same time, individualism and narcissism have grown, sometimes causing isolation that can make people feel sad or worthless. Social media also has much to do with this.
In that sense, I’m convinced that Methodist education is about transforming lives. IAMSCU offers the opportunity for nurturing history, tradition and the legacy of our Methodist origins. All of this provides identity and a sense of belonging. Being part of IAMSCU is a way of feeling a part of something bigger than your own institution. It is also a way of being connectional, so important to Methodism. IAMSCU is open to all Methodist-related institutions, faculty leaders and students. It is a big umbrella under which all of our institutions may gather to get to know each other; share experiences, goals and difficulties; make exchanges; and be together and think together.
I had never been to Bristol or Bath. It was very exciting to have the opportunity of going to such historic sites as Kingswood School and John Wesley’s New Room, the oldest Methodist building in the world. It is home to the original 18th-century chapel, as well as a museum of John and Charles Wesley’s life and work in Bristol. It was really worth seeing! So much to remember, to learn, to take into account; so much to tell others about our founder, John Wesley, and his ideas, so radically new for his time. One clearly finds there the foundation of many of the theological and social expressions of our churches today.
One afternoon, we visited Kinsgwood School in Bath. Founded by John Wesley, it educates more than 1,000 students from infancy to age 18. We were welcomed by headmaster and professor Andrew Gordon-Brown, staff and students, who gave us a tour of the campus – its beautiful buildings and gorgeous gardens. It was really nice talking to the students, eager to tell us about the school.
In Argentina, my country, I am an active member of the Methodist Church, which has been independent from The Methodist Episcopal Church since 1969. However, we have strong bonds as brothers and sisters in Christ and a shared history of missionaries that came to our country at the end of the 19th century. Some of them founded schools in different countries.
For more than 15 years, I have led Colegio Ward, a centennial school in Buenos Aires founded by Methodist missionaries. It is my pleasure and responsibility to keep the Methodist flame alive and to spread light on our educational programs, permeating the culture of the organization, the ethos of our schools and universities, the relationships and the decision-making process as well.
During the last business session, I was elected president of IAMSCU. It’s a big responsibility and a wonderful opportunity, meaningfully framed in such a historic place! In my new role, I'll be challenged to invite and convince others to join, to share their gifts and talents, either individually or institutionally, and to help us keep building this wonderful and meaningful net all over the world.
We educators face so many challenges in these unstable times. Our schools, colleges and universities in most of the countries are private. As paid schools, we have to compete with many others. One big challenge is how to address issues related to the “education market” rankings and so on without losing our values and ethics. Another is how to be coherent with our faith and principles.
I can think of other challenges: developing critical thinking at a time in which fundamentalism of any kind emerges easily; working on community building in our institutions; supporting democracies and freedom (many of our institutions were founded to teach and build citizenship); and being Methodist institutions to families that mostly are not (or being church for the unchurched). In other words, we must strive to be the best and most honest institution we can be. We must try to make our students aware of one another, especially those who are different, and encourage them to develop relationships; seek justice, equity and peace; and teach and show that living together respectfully and learning from one another is possible.
Hope is a great need in our world. Through IAMSCU, we can do our part in knitting bonds of love and hope all over the world, transforming lives!
Murriello is the general director of Colegio Ward in Argentina.
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