This week we’re hearing from Elspeth Muzzin, a former camper and summer staffer, currently serving LWM as a members of our Bridge Builders Planning Team and as the LWM social media manager. Elspeth cites her time with LWM as formative, particularly her experiences with our Bridge Builders program and our shared program known as MYLA (Multicultural Youth Leadership Academy). To learn more about Bridge Builders please visit: www.elcalivingwater.com/bridgebuilders and to learn about MYLA please visit www.elcalivingwater.com/myla
I am Chinese-American. I am a Masters of Social Work candidate. I am Lutheran. And Living Water Ministries has helped me realize my calling in anti-racism education.
From before I can remember, I have always been acutely aware of race. My mom recalls that when I was not yet 2 years old, I pointed to another Asian baby and whispered, “Chinese”. This moment was incredibly cute, even Tiktok-worthy if smartphones existed in 1999, but it was more too. Reflecting on this moment now, I understand that I was not given the privilege to not notice race. I couldn’t help but notice that I didn’t look like my parents or many of my friends at school. And this unique worldview catapulted me into becoming an extremely curious young girl turned young adult.
In 2013, I was one of the first ever attendees of Bridge Builders camp. It came time for race caucasing (an evidence based practice aimed to encourage racial identity formation and introspection) and I remember feeling a welling up inside of me. My friend (adopted from Korea) and I were the only non-Black or Indigenous people of color in our caucus and honestly, we felt out of place. Our friends from our home church were in the white caucus. Our experiences, our upbringings, and our own parents were those more reminiscent of people in the white caucus. I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain it at the time, but the dissonance I was feeling was intersectionality.
Fast forward to 2016. I was hired by LWM and got to experience Bridge Builders and Multicultural Youth Leadership Academy (MYLA, created by one of our partners Rescue Release Restore) as a staff member. This was the year it all started to click. Observing antiracism education in action from more of a leadership perspective sowed a seed of promise in me. Watching distinguished young people having breakthrough moments about race watered that seed. And finally understanding antiracism through the context of Bridge Builder’s Gospel curriculum was the sunshine needed for that seed to germinate. I felt a fire in me knowing that Jesus became angry when people had turned the temple into a place of commerce. I felt a wash of relief when I read about how Jesus sat with the sick, the poor, and the marginalized. Never before had I resonated with my Jesus more than I had understanding him as a creator of justice.
In 2019, I was on-boarded as a Bridge Builders adult leader and experienced my first summer engaging with high schoolers and the curriculum first hand. This coincided with my first year in my MSW program and I am more excited than ever to concentrate my degree on group work, thanks to my experiences with small groups and caucuses in Bridge Builders. I can’t wait to use my licensure to engage young people in dialogue about race and racism just like I had been at age 14. Living Water Ministries has nurtured my personal growth, given me a Gospel context through which to understand racism, and ultimately, has helped me find my way to change the world.