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Global mindsets: Program focuses on social change

Jan. 29, 2010

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Courtesy Photo
(From left) Soo-han Yeoh, Sambo Klauth and Sovannara Moch are members of the new Global Mission Leadership a program that equips students to return to affect social change.

By Neely Guthrie
Reporter

Sambo Klauth described his experiences as a Cambodian living in Waco and is humbled about learning all he can to take back to his home country. Klauth is one of three international students at Baylor pursuing a new dual-degree from Baylor and George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Klauth, Sovonnara Moch and Soo-Han Yeoh are the first three students to participate in Global Mission Leadership. According to ONE, the school of social work publication, the program began in 2008 with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation.

GML is designed for international students and combines a master's degree in social work and a master's degree in theological studies. The interdisciplinary concept of the program equips students to return to their home country and affect social change under the banner of Christian love and care.

"I was interested in studying social work and integrate faith into my work in the future," Klauth said. "Because the more I work in NGOs, the more I realize that social work is needed in Cambodia, in my country."

Moch, also from Cambodia, said, "Every time I sit in [my mission work] class and professors share about leading a Christian life that is transformed by the love of God, we can make an impact and God can use us as a tool to impact other people's lives. So that's practical to me."

Moch is in her first year of the program and previously worked as a counselor for five years in Cambodia, helping young girls who were victims of rape. The transition has been hard because Moch said she misses her job and her family, but she is learning a lot that she can take back home.

"I want to teach social work skills and counseling to young Cambodians who go to university ... I really want to transfer whatever I have to other generations so I can serve my own people," Moch said.

Similarly, Klauth wants to put his degree to use in Cambodia by instituting child protection services.

"I think advocacy is very important in the work I'll be doing in order to change policies and laws in order to promote and create a children protection system because back home we don't have a child protection system," Klauth said. "The program is called prevention and protection ... to build capacity of local authorities, churches, NGOs and all relevant stake holders in child protection so that they know how to protect children in communities."

Klauth's goal, small according to him, is to set up social counseling centers in churches so each center has a lot of people from the community who can counsel and spread the gospel.

Yeoh's desire is to better equip churches. Yeoh came to Baylor from Malaysia but studied in Kentucky for her undergraduate degree 13 years ago. She returned to Malaysia, working for a non-profit called Malaysian Care and was very active in her church. She was given new-believers to follow-up with, and she said there were two instances in which she felt very inadequate.

"What kind of role does the church play in their lives when people are in such places?" Yeoh asked. "The people in the church felt that they could not do anything, so I felt like it shouldn't be like that. Because if you know Christ, it shouldn't be like that."

Yeoh's goal upon returning to Malaysia is to show the church how to better incorporate people that are different from them or have special needs.

"It's not so much that [the church is] not accepting, again it's a question that they don't know how to include them ... if people other than the church community can do so many wonderful things, the church community can do even more because of who we belong to and who God is."

Jennifer Smyer, the director of Global Mission Leadership, cuts to the core of the Global Mission Leadership.

"The office of Global Mission Leadership is committed to educating Christian leaders to become catalysts of holistic transformation in nations of the world," Smyer wrote on the program's Web site.