With education abroad programs in more than 40 countries worldwide, Messiah College has touted international travel as an integral part of the academic experience for some time—something that benefits students as well as professors. Just ask Biblical studies professor Meg Ramey, who traveled to five continents in less than one year from May 2011 to January 2012. (more…)
Archive for the 'International experience' Category
Anticipation rose as we turned off the bumpy dirt highway into off-road country surrounded by roaming farm animals, tiny huts and clotheslines. A swarm of kids chased after the big yellow bus that carried our diverse team of Messiah College students, Living Water educators and newly trained village leaders, welcoming us to the community. After spending time in Puerto Cabezas preparing, we finally arrived with the mission of bringing pure water and The Living Water to the small community of Awas Tigni, Nicaragua. The next two days spent in the beautiful land of Awas flew by like a blur. Community members were eager to learn all we had to share. Classrooms were filled, and people completed a variety of activities and lessons on everything from hand-washing, to making a tippy tap to using one of our filters! (more…)
An immigrant from South Africa and fluent in four languages, senior biology major Bianca Basch nurtured her passion for international development last year by living, studying and interning in Thailand. Basch traveled abroad after receiving a prestigious award, the Boren Scholarship, given to U.S. students looking to study in a country of national security interest.
The scholarship administered by the Institute of International Education is designed to promote linguistic and cultural immersion, providing students with the “resources and encouragement they need to acquire skills and experiences in areas of the world critical to the future security of our nation.” In exchange, students agree to seek at least a year’s worth of work in a position of national security for the federal government.
Prior to applying, Basch spent a semester in Thailand in 2009 with GoEd, a study abroad program that partners with Messiah, and she adopted a strong connection to the country’s culture and language. Basch returned to Thailand after receiving the esteemed scholarship for a year-long study focusing on sustainable development. “Thailand is a very colorful nation,” she explained. “The people are friendly, the lifestyle is inexpensive and the food is delicious. There is also a strong emphasis on human rights with issues such as sex-trafficking, and that really interest me.”
Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, welcomed Basch for the first four months of her experience. She took major-related courses at this respected international college, learning and interacting with students from across the globe.
Basch then dove into hands-on projects in Chaingmai for her final six months in Thailand. Living and working on a vocational Bible school compound, Basch enhanced her qualitative research skills through a sustainable agriculture internship. “We executed four pilot projects,” explained Basch. “Each project was centered around three overall goals: financial sustainability, food sustainability and education in agricultural vocation.”
“My favorite project was soap-making,” Basch shared. She also participated in a project on vermicomposting, a form of aerobic composting that involves the use of worms to help break down organic waste materials in soil. Her experience inspired the creation of her seniors honor project: Messiah’s first vermicompost sustainability endeavor on campus. Basch said that she hopes “to get a lot of people involved. I want it to be a big student interest. I’m partnering with some professors, but I want it to be a student-managed project.”
Looking back on her experiences, Basch encourages other students to study internationally. “Students should study with a program that really cares where they are and what they are doing,” she advises. At the same time, don’t take Messiah for granted. “I think a lot of people are too harsh on Messiah,” Basch explained. “They don’t realize how rare it is to have this kind of Christian community. From chapel to class to everyday conversations, students at Messiah have the opportunity to engage in constant dialogue about faith or difficult issues.”
Basch is still open to what the future holds for her after graduation. While her interests in international sustainable development may eventually take her to graduate school, Basch hopes to acquire more hands-on experience first. “A master’s degree in sustainable agriculture doesn’t say much unless you get your hands dirty first,” Basch explained.
Basch also shared her interest in helping immigrant populations. “This was a constant reality as I lived in Thailand and met refugees who escaped Burma or Laos,” she said. “When I came to the U.S. as an eight-year-old, I remember trying to learn to be different yet still retain my South African culture.” Basch is excited to help others and for whatever the future may have in store, but for now, she is happy to be back in the Messiah community for her final year.
Story by Mary-Grace MacNeil `13
Junior Roxanne Benedict traveled to Kenya during a May 2010 cross-cultural course, and returned to campus inspired and motivated to positively impact the lives of Kenyan children affected by poverty and AIDS.
Together with Dawn Gearhart, instructor of family and consumer sciences, Benedict, a family and consumer sciences major, devised a plan to sew book bags; fill them with school supplies, hygiene products, books and notes of encouragement; and deliver them to Kenyan children.
Benedict, through participation in the Pennsylvania Family and Consumer Sciences Conference in Gilbertsville, Pa., in October of 2010 was able to secure additional assistance from family and consumer science majors across the state. Soon the project was embraced by dozens of like-minded students and professors.
“I just felt God’s hand was behind it all,” said Benedict. Students spent class time sewing the bags from materials provided by teachers and parents. (more…)
As early as high school, Laura Meitzner Yoder ’93 was concerned with justice matters. Some of her other favorite subjects included biological sciences and politics, which combined to launch her interest in learning about and getting involved in world hunger issues. These interests then united with agricultural and environmental concerns in tropical areas, which eventually led her to work on land access issues of importance to rural people.
Yoder grew up in a rural area of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and lived on a small farm with her family. At the time, Yoder enjoyed playing around the nearby pond and stream, which likely encouraged her current fascination of nature. (more…)
Dorca Kisare-Ressler, director of international student programs and co-chair of the International Education Week committee, reflects on the event as well as the importance of global citizenship.
International Education Week at Messiah College was planned with the intention of providing an integrated experience for the college community and surrounding community to enjoy many educational opportunities while also taking a moment to encourage international cultural awareness.
There’s an old saying: If you give someone a fish, they can eat for a day. Teach them to fish, and they can eat for a lifetime. When microfinance enters the story, however, the meaning of that adage is significantly broadened. In other words, an entire community is provided with the means to fish together, enabling them to eat for a lifetime. (more…)
Believing that “people are remarkable stories” with the last chapter unwritten, Ray Norman, dean of the School of Science, Engineering, and Health, embraces opportunities to learn about people and hear their personal stories.
That skill has come in handy as he has managed a water and mobility project in West Africa for the past several years.
West Africa is an area where oral storytelling is valued. Norman knows the region and the art of storytelling well as he grew up there.
When Norman, a water engineer by trade, came to Messiah in 2002, the College’s Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research had already been working in Africa, specifically Burkina Faso, for a number of years. In 2005, World Vision approached Norman and asked for the Collaboratory’s assistance to design latrines and wells accessible to handicapped people in Mali.
School of the Arts alumni showcase talent around the world
Perhaps a hidden gem of Messiah College is its School of the Arts. It is there that aspiring actors, musicians, and artists hone their skills in creative and public expression. Graduates from the School of the Arts have gone on to be international performers and excel in instilling their artistic vision in the communities where they work and live in while creatively contributing to the larger, global artists’ community. Mipa Lee (‘05), Efthymios Mavridis (‘89), and Jesse Baxter (‘02) are all alumni from the School of the Arts who work internationally.
Nine Messiah students from the history and art departments along with Assistant Professor of History David Pettegrew are digging up pieces of the past, literally. The group, as part of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, is in Cyprus, taking part in a three-week archaeological dig. The dig is part of a growing trend of utilizing archaeology as a service to communities.
The team is working on three sites off the south coast of Cyprus excavating an area that dates back to the Late Bronze Age (1200 BC), Classical period (480 BC-330 BC), and the Late Roman period (AD 330-AD 650). Combined, the coastline is a historical refuge for Cyprus’ role in economic, political, and cultural relationships with other areas in the ancient Mediterranean.