Drawn to the city
Krista Dutt '99
National Program Director, DOOR (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection),
A clear-cut path?
When she began the college search, Krista Dutt was certain she was going to enter a dietetics program and, one day, be a chef. "I was so sure that's what I wanted to do with my life," she says. During her second quarter at Bluffton, Krista opted to take a nondietetics elective, Christian Worship. That made her second-guess her initial decision. "My professors reassured me that it wasn't the end of the world if I changed my major," says Krista.
Krista chose Chicago for her cross-cultural experience. "The Chicago trip did more for me than anything else career-wise," she says. "That's when I began thinking about the effects of racism and classism and how what I purchased at a store in Lima or Findlay really did affect people I met in the city."
Impacted by internships.
Krista decided to attend Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), and earn a master of divinity. While at AMBS, she spent a year and a half in Chicago, interning at Englewood Mennonite Church on the south side and with DOOR, a nonprofit organization that provides groups and individuals with missions, service and learning experiences in an urban setting. "I fell in love with DOOR because of its emphasis on education in the midst of service in the inner-city," says Krista.
Seeing God everywhere.
After AMBS, Krista joined Mennonite Voluntary Service and spent time at a family advocacy in La Jara, Colo.--"the farthest you can be from a city," she says. "I wanted to re-find the balance of seeing God at work in both the city and country." Krista visited with families, engaging parents and children and teaching life skills. She also filled in as pastor at United Church of La Jara.
To learn and keep on learning.
Krista moved back to Chicago, taking a city director position with DOOR. She was recently promoted to national program director and travels to all DOOR cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Hollywood, Miami and San Antonio. She develops curriculum across the board, from weekend and week-long trips to semester, summer and year-long experiences. "DOOR participants are given opportunities to volunteer in many different places," she says. "Ultimately, we want to talk about all the different issues that come with race and class. DOOR isn't just about serving and helping out with a problem for a day. It's also about thinking about how these issues affect us at home. Our objective is to learn and keep on learning."
Living life by experiencing it.
Krista sends Chicago DOOR participants out into the city to learn about its culture by taking in a lecture or an art exhibit among other things. She says, "People ask me how I find out about events. I love exploring Chicago and learning new things."