In March, students traveled around the globe, from South America to Europe, applying classroom skills, reflecting on their lives and being transformed through mission trips. It was nothing short of life-changing.
Here is a window into some of the trips taken.
A semester of preparing materials, hosting supply drives and research culminated in eight students and two faculty members venturing into one of the most impoverished areas of Belize--determined to share the value of preschool education.
In these Mayan villages where thatch-roof huts are standard and electricity and running water are uncommon, the students hosted all-day parent workshops.
"It really stretched our students' creativity because we only used supplies that we could get locally," Joyce Nuner, assistant professor in family and consumer sciences, explained. "We made play-dough to show ways for three-year-olds to learn shapes and letters, but we couldn't buy food coloring, so we used kool-aid."
The students also had the chance to work alongside native preschool teachers in Punta Gorda. They read to the children, taught art activities and delivered much needed supplies to the teachers. And as they stepped into these roles for the first time, many gained greater insight into themselves and discovered a newfound passion for teaching.
"Beati voi poveri perché vostro é il regno di Dio." To the six students who accompanied Jared Slack, pastoral resident for worship, to Taize, France, this is a chorus that represents harmony, tolerance and self-sacrifice.
Fully immersed in this ecumenical worshipping community, these students rose early every morning and worshipped with people from around the world in a variety of languages. This was their routine three times a day.
But there was more to this monastic community than worship. Everyone--including the students--spent their mornings learning about communal life by completing tasks that keep the community running (such as cleaning every toilet). In the afternoons, they would gather in discussion groups and examine scripture through translators. Their paradigms were shifted as they embraced the reality that their interpretation wasn't always "better," and that others' ideas were different but valuable.
"People who are going to make an impact in the world are the ones who can accept that there are differences in other cultures and who can still find unity among the diversity," Jared said. "Our students were exposed to what God is doing in the world and how they fit into that."
Twenty-two prehealth students.
Three medical professionals.
One faculty member.
And a host of medical supplies. Yes, that embodies the American Medical Students Association's trip to Guatemala.
Daily, the team held clinics for the Quiche people in a small village. People were broken and in desperate need, and these students had the opportunity to help. They operated a triage station to record vital signs, provided critical pharmaceuticals to the villagers and even taught the children about hygiene, picking up trash and manners--simple lessons that make incredible impact.
"It was amazing to see the kids' excitement--they were even excited about picking up trash!" Colby Bouchard, a senior biology pre-med major, said. "It was so refreshing because we tend to get caught up in the material things in life."
As these students worked with Global CHE, an organization that promotes community health evangelism, they were able to bolster an already-active organization and make an enduring impact.
While this is only a glimpse into some of the trips taken over spring break, the reality of transformation through cross-cultural experiences is evident. That's exactly why one of the priorities of The President's Scholarship Initiative is to raise scholarship funds for "out-of-the-classroom" enrichment opportunities.
Through mission trips and international study experiences, students are equipped with a holistic education that prepares them to be successful and relevant in today's global society. If you would like to empower students to have opportunities like these, you can make your gift online today.
To learn how your student can be involved with summer missions or next year's spring break trips, contact the Office of Spiritual Life at (254) 710-3517.