Study abroad: Exploring a new perspective

Fall semester is upon us and students have reconvened onto the Siloam Springs campus. Throughout the summer over a hundred students traveled to over 10 countries and each experienced personal life-changes. From a wide variety of cultures, countries, families and lives back home, together they form the diverse John Brown University community.

Of this diverse community, both American and non-American students took advantage of the opportunity to have a cross-culture experience this past summer.

The Poland Studies trip was one that collaborated youth ministry, human and family services, and psychology majors. The group was led by associate professor of youth ministries, Jason Lanker, and the department head and professor of psychology, Kevin Simpson, through Eastern Europe.

The group split up and participated in an “amazing race” style of travel, which incorporated students from other countries.

But, why Poland?

“I wanted to pick a place that would help raise questions, where we would talk about issues that we wouldn’t talk about if we weren’t there,” Lanker said .

In Poland, groups were challenged in conversations with ministry workers and students about bullying. They discussed topics such as race and crime with a historical lens of Communist and Nazism of Poland.

They also visited the historical holocaust sight, Auschwitz, to gain a better understanding and a new perspective of the injustice and suffering that occurred there.

“I wanted their lives to change; mine did,” Lanker said.

Lanker concluded that hopefully the relationships formed between the University and Eastern European students could form more ministry opportunities with Poland in the future.

In addition to the Poland summer trip, a group of photography and illustration majors went on an educational tour to Berlin, Germany.

Senior illustration major, Hannah Newsom, was one of the students who traveled with the art department to Berlin.

While traveling to art museums and sightseeing in and around the city, Newsom said she was not only moved by the beauty of the art and history around her, but she was also inspired by the work of her fellow students.

Returning to campus with memories of the trip, “I find myself talking about it all the time,” Newsom said.

Alyssa Garza, senior child and family studies major, had a similar reaction after the Pilgrimage study trip.

“People ask about it all the time,” said Garza. While she grew closer to the other students on the trip, she also explained how difficult the journey was.

“It was emotionally draining,” Garza said, as she went into detail about their time at a French monastery and hiking along El Camino in Spain. “It was kind of overwhelming how sweet the people were.”

Each trip and each individual produced their own reactions and memories based on their individual experience. When studying abroad, Lanker emphasized how important it is, “to get inside somebody’s shoes and really see them and not just this caricature of them.”