Jennifer Deibert (BA, ’10) never imagined she’d work for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), much less in North Korea.
The Reedley native wanted a university where she could develop personally as well as academically. “Alumni and students of FPU seemed different somehow, like they had been changed by more than learning from books, that their lives were changed by relationships with professors, fellow students and the community,” she says.
Deibert experienced that change firsthand. While she loved the coursework in her English major, she felt her studies lacked balance, so she added a minor in biology. “Studying humanities with a dose of science on the side was a good choice. In my work, being well-rounded and having the foundation and basics of how natural systems work has been helpful,” she says.
English and science might not seem the path to North Korea program coordinator for MCC, a Christian relief organization, but Deibert says her FPU experience laid the groundwork. Unsure what she wanted to do after graduation, Deibert accepted the offer of a free lunch with MCC staff. This led to an internship in communications in the West Coast Office.
After the internship, Deibert joined MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program, and spent a year in Hanoi, Vietnam, serving as an editor for translated manuscripts at The Gioi Publishing house. Deibert then returned to Reedley and worked in communications for MCC for about two years before moving to South Korea, where she was involved in finances and then as exchange coordinator for MCC Northeast Asia’s young adult programs before starting her present position in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
FPU solidified Deibert’s convictions about following Jesus’ way of peace. “Faculty and staff took the time to listen and respond to questions and earnest searching,” she says. “[They] cared not only about scholastic achievement and career goals, but about the holistic person.” Deibert calls this “a precious gift.” “Fostering community instead of competition, engagement instead of ego, prepared me for work in a service organization like MCC,” she adds.
Studying Matthew in Jesus and the Christian Community led Deibert to new ideas about living as a follower of Christ in a broken world. “Loving those who are supposed to be ‘the enemy’ is central to my understanding of what it means to be a Christian,” she says. “As a follower of Christ committed to reconciliation and peace, I must disrupt the narrative that the people of the U.S. and DPRK are enemies, so that Koreans are not forgotten.”