1998 Student-Faculty Fellows: Augustana College

Mentor: Marsha Smith, Sociology
Student: Jane Tiedge, History, ’99

Life of Sister Ingeborg Nystul, the First Augustana Synod Lutheran Deaconess to Serve in China

Project Abstract

Jane Tiedge, ’99 (History and Women’s Studies) and Dr. Martha Smith (Sociology and Women’s Studies) spent June 14 to July 21 in Asia researching the life of Sr. Ingeborg Nystul. Our purpose was threefold: (A) to locate, explore, and photograph places that Sr. Ingeborg visited and lived as well as other Augustana Synod holdings, (B) to locate and interview elderly Chinese who remembered her, and (C) to gather first-hand knowledge about life in China, particularly what is happening among contemporary Christian Chinese in Henan, Hubei, and Shaanxi provinces.

We were particularly successful in locating and photographing sites where Sr. Ingeborg lived in Wuhan, Luoyang, Baoji, Zhengzhou and especially Jigongshan where no westerners have visited since 1948. We also were able to contact and interview a number of seniors who did remember Sr. Ingeborg quite well. Finally, we heard a great deal as well as experienced Chinese Christians’ sense of their current situations. In many ways, we realized that there is a growing revival of Christianity in China. There were large numbers of people involved at every Church setting. We also realized that the further away we were from the central government, the more open Chinese Christians were – not only in terms o buildings and activities, but also in terms of how they treated us. We chose to visit on an informal basis only, not notifying the Religious Affiliation Bureau in any of the communities we traveled to. Since leaving China we have remained in contact with some of the people we interviewed as far as we can assess, no one has encountered any problems with our informal visits.

Marsha Smith

I think we were remarkably successful in achieving our research goals and I look forward to seeing Jane’s book when finished. I think this was a great learning experience for Jane in many ways. Not only was she able to get a sense of Sr. Ingeborg’s life, but the experience of traveling in China is one that she will never forget. Although at times it was quite challenging for her, I am sure that as she looks back on this experience in the years to come, it will represent a treasured memory of directly encountering a culture and a way of life that was quite alien to her personal experiences. I am sure that China will impact her greatly in the writing and publishing of Sr. Ingeborg’s life work.

Jane Tiedge

I have many different feelings towards China and the people that I met while there. I did not go over there with specific expectations. At my age (43 years) I know better than to do something like that. I went to China with an open mind and with the knowledge that it was a developing country – a third world country. However, I have to admit that I did have some trouble adjusting to certain aspects of the social conditions and behaviors that I found throughout China. That withstanding, I was able to overcome those feelings and have a very successful research trip.

  • Speaker for the Friends of the Rock Island Public Library, Sepember 14, 1998
  • Speaker (with mentor, Marsha Smith) at the Brown Bag Lunch Series, Women’s Studies Program, Augustana College
  • Speaker, Seniors Dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church, Moline, Il, November 10, 1998
  • Guest lecturer, Historical Documentation class, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA, Fall, 1998
  • Interviewed for “Update,” an Augustana College publication
    * Will be featured in an upcoming issue of Augustana Magazine