Students continue their education through upcoming study abroad trips.
This summer, 38 North Central University students will travel overseas to continue their education in a new culture. They’ll trade trips back home for plane tickets across the world.
Some students will go with Youth Studies Professor Adam Sikorski to Israel from May 13 to June 1, while others will go with Intercultural Studies (ICS) Professor Bob Brenneman to Turkey and Cyprus from May 7 to June 4.
“To have that cultural setting up close, to be learning about how to start a conversation or learning what others need, get into the relationship building,” said Sable Heimer, a junior intercultural studies major who will join Brenneman on the trip to Turkey, “With this trip, I’ll be able to both apply what I’m learning, and to see it play out in my day-to-day life outside the NCU bubble,”
North Central will send students to Israel through the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Land Studies, which is based in Springfield, Missouri. Many students who attend this trip are part of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies or pastoral majors, although the trip is open to all students. This team will travel to Arad, the Sea of Galilee, and Jerusalem.
Students and faculty on the Turkey trip will work with refugees and visit two separate missionaries. The team will see a day in the life of a missionary, how they interact and go about their lives. Students will spend some time staying with Turkish students as they learn more about the language and make connections. They will visit and work in Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, and Ephesus.
Brenneman said that the trip is more likely to change the students than it is to change Turkey.
“We have to be realistic,” said Brenneman, who has previously worked in Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey. “No three-and-a-half-week trip is going to change the world. We tell our students ‘Don’t advertise it as a trip that’s going to change Turkey in three and a half weeks.’ On the other hand, it’s not a vacation.”
While the students will explore and see new places, they will also be working and earning credits.
Students looking to get involved with an ICS-focused summer trip must take two pre-requisite classes before they leave the United States. International Logistics (ICS 357) is a one-credit course that helps students with the logistics of participating in fieldwork, such as fundraising and paperwork for passports. International Fieldwork Prep (ICS 358) is a three-credit class that helps students understand the culture they will encounter.
North Central usually sends out two or three trips per summer, according to Study Abroad Coordinator Mekeyah Martin. The Israel trip is the only trip set to happen every year. In the past, a trip to North Central’s sister school in China was offered, but the opportunity has not been approved for the past few years. There are high tensions among the Christian community in China right now, and the Academic Affairs office has deemed the trip unsafe, said Martin.
The other trips sent out rely on what professors are available to lead trips and where they are able to find partnerships.
“We’re pretty open to new ideas, for a trip or an idea for a partnership,” said Martin “If students have a request, then we normally take that information, investigate it, and different organizations can apply.”
Most students who participate in summer study abroad programs are juniors or seniors, but North Central will take extenuating circumstances into consideration when looking at students’ applications, according to Martin. Students of all majors are welcome to join these trips.
“If students are interested in study abroad, we tell them pretty early on in their academic career to go ahead and talk to the study abroad coordinator and we partner with their advisor to go through the application process,” said Martin.
The advisors and study abroad coordinator work with students to see what programs would fit a student’s academic timeline and the feasibility of the programs offered, whether it is a short-term summer trip or an entire semester abroad.
Intercultural studies majors are required to go on a three-and-a-half-week trip. Some students will be extending their trips to do their internships while abroad.
While North Central has no scholarships for study abroad or summer study trips, students like Heimer fundraise money to cut costs.
“All of my fundraising actually came through my church,” Heimer said. “I sent out newsletters and talked it up over winter break. I sent updates to those newsletters and I called a few people.”
Fundraising and personal contribution are both important parts of raising funds for these summer trips abroad.
“I think there’s a mix of both sacrifice on the student’s parts as well as asking people to support them,” said Brenneman.
This will be Heimer’s first time out of the country. She only knows how things are done in the United States, and she is excited to see how different life can be in a foreign country.
“I’m so looking forward to getting to experience the culture, the food, and just a whole different way of living,” Heimer said.
Brenneman hopes that this trip will influence the team and impact them far beyond the three and a half weeks they will be out of the United States.
“We hope, trust, and pray that afterwards, your prayer life will increase, you’ll become a better intercessor and that you’ll be more willing to support missions whether you go back yourself or not,” said Brenneman.