Carmen Finken Returns to Iowa after One Year at HSU

[Carmen Finken studied with us in Religious Studies for one year (2012-13) as part of the National Student Exchange Program. She’s now back in Iowa, but credits HSU and the Religious Studies program as a life changing experience. Read on below…]

(August 13, 2015)
I’m now working with AmeriCorp, but I would not be here had I not chosen to attend HSU during the 2012-2013 school year. The AmeriCorps program that I work for is called Green Iowa and there are six sites across the state. Our mission is to make Iowans more energy efficient through low-impact home weatherizations, energy education, and community outreach. As education coordinator, I work specifically with people (mostly children) on how to be more environmentally friendly and enrgy efficient.

Living Myths and Consumerism and Eco-Spirituality were huge wake up calls for me. I had no idea that we were living in the midst of an environmental crisis, nor did I care to look at religion through a phenomenological lens. My year at HSU was very informative, often in a very frightening sense. From Herb’s class concerning terrorism, to Sara’s class about the environmental crisis, and Steve’s class on impermanence, it was an incredibly heavy year. There was no way I would have been able to come back to Iowa and resume living my life as though I had not been to Humboldt.

I finished my religion degree in May 2014 and started working for AmeriCorps this past fall. I will do the program for a second year and then hopefully attend graduate school for environmental sustainability. I’m actually touring Portland State this Wednesday!
I find the work I do for AmeriCorps rewarding, though it becomes difficult to keep the faith that we aren’t spiraling into an environmental apocalypse. In a very long-winded conclusion, studying RS at HSU made me more aware of major environmental, social, and political issues, and has since given me a better understanding of global and theological concerns.
As you can tell I still have a lot of feelings about my year at HSU.

I’ve been doing a lot of volunteer work for the Bernie campaign here in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, like phone banking, canvassing, and holding house parties. When some of us here saw him speak in Waterloo, he said that human beings are not meant to be fighting in such violent wars. It instantly made me think of Living Myths and just violence. I just hope that he doesn’t get taken out for his attempt to bring forth a political revolution like in the past.
I hope that this fall semester’s Living Myths class brings forth a lot of insightful discussion. I wish I had had the courage to speak more when I was an undergraduate, especially at HSU.

The summer here has been pretty mild, at least in Cedar Falls. How is the mystical town of Arcata?

Thanks again for staying in touch. It means a lot to be hearing back from the HSU Religious Studies program.


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