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Ruth Swale (née Aitchison)

1987-1988 / BCNZ Diploma (Henderson Campus)

I was at BCNZ's Henderson campus in 1987-88, and the communal living was both a joy and a challenge! These are the memories which come to mind, in no particular order of importance: long conversations reclining in the orchard; early morning vege prep duties; New Testament studies with Chris Marshall (the 'already-not yet' tension is a concept that I still remind myself of to this day); growing capsicums with the Friday afternoon gardening team; taking the ESOL teaching elective and working with my first international student; winning the netball cup; studying in random places; crazy musical moments; four of us piling into a van to go to weekly Bible in Schools classes...

My studies made me more understanding of diversity and cultural differences, and gave me a positive awareness of other ways of doing things which could be better than what I had taken for granted before. I realised that God was far bigger and more surprising than our 'pre-packaged' views of Him, and that if we thought we could comprehend Him completely He would just be like one of us, really. We were taught to do all we can to understand our faith, always continuing to learn more and grow, while always allowing room for God's mystery. I experienced God speaking to me, working in my life, and giving me a more compassionate heart for difficult people.

I’ve had many varied roles, including working as equipment adviser for the Blind Foundation, and managing the Cornwall Park information centre in Auckland. Then I returned to my South Island roots – I taught at a language school in Timaru, was involved with mental health support work, and worked as an Anglican parish administrator.

I’m currently loving my role as a social justice advocate for Anglican Care South Canterbury, based in Timaru. I've been doing this work since 2014, and it's such a privilege to support people to have their voices heard, and empower them to start believing in themselves again.

I’m grateful to God for showing me grace, keeping me safe, teaching me humility, and above all giving me an awareness of His image in everyone I meet.

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