Grace College students were spread across the world for cultural encounter trips over spring break, Feb. 26 – March 8, 2016. Groups of students and advisors traveled to the Bahamas, southern California, Taiwan, Atlanta, Dubai, England, Hong Kong, India and Philadelphia. The teams were led by cross-culturally experienced faculty and staff and lasted seven to ten days. The trips provide students with a cross-cultural experience in which they are exposed to native people and customs of various cultures.
As a part of Grace’s general education core, these trips are one way to meet the “cross-cultural field experience” requirement for Global Perspectives, a class designed to develop a biblical lens for seeing the world in order to live meaningfully and biblically in increasingly multi-cultural societies. According to Carlos Tellez, dean of chapel and global initiatives for Grace College, the cross-cultural field experience “prepares students for today’s globalized marketplace and for obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations.”
Brittany Fourman, a senior majoring in communications and journalism from Dayton, Ohio, was part of the Bahamas Encounter trip. A total of 15 students and four faculty traveled to Nassau, Bahamas where they began by exploring remote islands on a sailboat. The trip gave them the opportunity to stay with a native host family for a night, visit a school on Black Point Island and spend time at All Saints Camp with AIDS and HIV-infected Bahamians. The students also had the opportunity to experience the unique beauty and wildlife of the Bahamas.
Fourman said she was inspired by the culture. “They don’t put emphasis on time and everyone is very relaxed. It was refreshing to experience a completely different lifestyle from that in the U.S.” Fourman said many Bahamians see the country as “a sinking ship” but she saw a place with unlimited opportunity and many untapped markets that could positively change the country.
“I never realized the degree to which our country impacts the Bahamas. It relies on America for many imports because we are their closest neighbor. The large amount of importing in the Bahamas makes goods there much more expensive,” she explained. Fourman says this trip has expanded her aspirations and she hopes to return to work there after graduation this May. She aspires to help develop new industries to make the Bahamians more self-reliant. Although hesitant about the trip prior to leaving, Fourman says now she is very grateful for the experience and appreciates the cross-cultural requirement for graduation at Grace.
The next cultural trips will be taken by Grace students and faculty in May to Austria, Fiji, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal and Toronto. Then, a mystery trip in June will give students the opportunity to experience three world class cities across three continents. For more information about Go Encounter trips, visit www.grace.edu/go-encounter.