Tag

I.S. Program Updates Archives - St. Stephen's University

hanging out with saints

By | Europe | No Comments

I took 6 International Studies students to a soup kitchen in downtown Barcelona run by the sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta to help serve a lunch for people whose situation forces them to turn to places like soup kitchens for support. Mostly men from 25-45, most of them were immigrant workers from other countries trying for a better life in Barcelona. We served and cleaned up lunch for over 300 people, which was a privilege to help out with.

The best part of the day for me was being able to spend time with the sisters and other volunteers. I talked with a man named Francisco for a while, who comes regularly to serve at the soup kitchen. He spoke of how he felt a deep sense of satisfaction in coming here, knowing that he was contributing to something purposeful and meaningful beyond himself. He spoke of the sisters and how he was constantly amazed at their ability to give and receive nothing in return. He was almost emotional as he conveyed to me his deep sense of respect for these women.

The last thing we spoke of was how proud he was to see our group of young people coming to serve alongside him and the other volunteers. He related to me that far too often the only messages he received regarding youth spoke to him of how they were disrespectful and selfish. The sisters and other volunteers accentuated his observation with their expressions of “moi bien” and the smiles on their faces as the students participated with them in the serving and cleaning the soup, fruit and bread.

Kendall

Professor Anglais

By | All Things Travel | 2 Comments

Teaching English – I knew that it would be one of my major challenges in coming to Iris. Limited school supplies, no curriculum to rely on, and very little teaching experience.  I wondered “how can I effectively teach African children English?” I knew that this would have to be a work of grace.

Two months into my internship there is good news. English lessons have been going great! Teaching has been one of my favorite activities here at Iris.  I developed a curriculum, and with each new week comes creative ideas for lesson plans. Like I mentioned above – it has been a work of grace.

In preparations for classes, God has been helping me to think creatively. In a small but meaningful way, I am witnessing the promises of Proverbs 3:6, “in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (King James language – it ‘s a favorite of mine).  If anyone would like, I’ll tell you about  these ideas, and timely provisions, when I get back.

My students range from toddlers to teens; but they’re all (mostly) infants in their understanding of the English language; yet are progressively learning quite well.  They have acquired the ability to speak or recite: basic conversational skills, numbers, body parts (head and shoulders song – they love it), identifying common objects,  meal times and food dishes, etc. Seeing their growth in  language skills is one of the most rewarding aspects to this internship.

Before and after classes is one of my favorite times of the day. The kids have been teaching me some of their sweet indigenous dances (I teach them to break-dance),  games, and language skills. They also like to hang off of me, lots of them, I am their jungle gym at times. Ha.

But what really gets me about these kids is their ability to laugh. They don’t get upset with little annoyances, they giggle. These kids, who have become my friends, are teaching me the importance of letting life’s little annoyances go, and releasing them over to laughter. Why get upset over the little stuff when we don’t have to? Life is better when we try to embrace it with more joy.

OK, I would like to make one final note. Does teaching English really make a difference to these kids living in a village on the outskirts of a city in the Northern Parts of Mozambique, Africa? Definitely. Mozambique is a developing nation, and their educational system is weak but getting better. The kids are taught both Portuguese (a remnant influence of their colonial past), and more recently, English  in their public schools. This is great, for in an ever increasing globally connected world the universal language of communication is English. This opens doors like the possibility of getting a higher education in their own country, as well as abroad. This in turn opens the door for job opportunities and leadership positions in their own county and in the world around them.

–> I have included some pictures from my Meize morning class.

Touch your head, touch your foot, now jump up and down and turn all around.

Meize morning class.

Part II: Pemba Highlights

By | All Things Travel | No Comments

Iris Ministries was founded by Rolland and Heidi Baker back in 90’s. Both of these people inspire me in their Christian faith. The ministry in Pemba operates as an orphanage/church plant/ indigenous pastor training/missionary school/ village feed/ and a lot more. I am staying at their main base, but they have many throughout the country.  This base is approximately 75-100 acres in size and is located right next to the Indian Ocean.  How neat is that?  I love the ocean! I am happy to be here during the rainy season (even though it has rained very little) as the land is now green.

The missionaries here inspire and encourage me by their walk with God. They are spiritual, but very down to earth.  I have been able to meet lots of missionaries and become friends with them because it is a slower time at Iris.

My duties include helping out in the kitchen and teaching English to children.  In the kitchen, I mostly hand out plates to the children and collect them at the end of meals. I have also been going to a nearby village called Meize.   Meize is where I am teaching English to 35 kids so far.  The kids seem excited to be excited to learn English, and I am happy to help them learn. However, I am a bit nervous as there is no set curriculum so I’ll need more of God’s grace for thinking outside of the box.

In a surprise turn of events I’m also helping with prison ministry. I forget how this all came about, but last week I found myself in a truck headed for jail. We were there to preach, pray for the sick, and give food. This was a bit of a stretching experience, but God is good and was faithful to give me strength.  I enjoyed my time there. The inmates weren’t intimidating, more welcoming than anything. Being in prison and praising God with the inmates was an amazing blessing. African’s have great voices and love to sing.

The last thing that I’ll mention involves hugs. The kids here . . . love them, especially the little ones. Sometimes when kids come up to me they open up their arms and smile, as if to say, “pick me, pick me.” Their needy eyes make picking them up such an easy decision.

Blessings,

Geoff

Part 1: Pemba

By | All Things Travel | No Comments

“And let the glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us…”
Psalm 90:18a

“Salama!” This is a greeting from the local Makuwa language.

After approximately 36-40 hours of travel, I finally arrived in beautiful Pemba, Mozambique! Exiting the plane, I was instantly greeted by African weather; hot and sunny!  Dr. Don Kantel (founder of SSU), met me at the airport.  He and his wife Elizabeth are the base directors here at Iris’ Pemba location. I am also blessed to have him as my internship supervisor.

Setting out for Iris was a short drive, but the lack of time did not hinder African culture from revealing itself. Women dressed in colorful attire, usually a parcel on their head, balancing it oh so well. Men and boys walking to and fro as well, some sell things, others are just going places. Fish is a fairly hot item on the markets here; you see lots of it for sale along the main ocean drag to Iris. Cars, trucks (with an over-load of people in them) and motor bikes cruise the narrow roads. And palm trees and baobabs (big trunked trees) root themselves in the country side.

When Don picked me up, he had a young girl with him – Talma. Let me tell you a little about her, it will help you understand a little about Iris Ministries….
She was born in Tanzania but her parents had sent her away to her aunt’s house in Pemba; they didn’t want her. In Pemba, she was abused severely and her aunt used her as cleaning aid. She eventually ran away and came to Iris looking for help. And it was here that she found help. But recently she has been in danger of returning to her family in Tanzania; her aunt’s crooked desires. Don and others have been trying to stop this. As of yesterday, I found out that after prayer and practical effort, the mother of this little girl has allowed her to stay with Iris! Praise God. Talma is very happy. Like Talma many of the kids here at Iris (approx 170) have disturbing pasts, but God is restoring them. Amen.

Thank you to all of those who made this trip possible; especially Dr. Kantel, Dr. Gregg Finley, the Kadatz’s, and my very supportive and loving parents. I would also like to thank Jesus, the Great Shepherd, for loving me and leading me here.

Also, thanks to all those who wrote in my send off journal – reflecting on your words of encouragement has been valuable.

Blessings,
Geoff

New Faces on Campus (And Around the World)

By | All Things Travel | One Comment

SSU’s newly residented Travel Co-ordinators Shelley and Kendall Kadatz checking in here at SSU’s travel blog.  We’ll be using this blog to keep our dedicated readers up to date on everything travel around the university.  So whether you’re looking for updates on travel study terms to Asia, Europe, Greece & Turkey, or the just launched Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (BAIS) and Bachelor of International Studies (BIS) programs, check in regularly to see what’s happening.

Aside from our own thoughts, we’re also interested in hearing about your reflections on travel at SSU.  Whether you’re a professor, staff member, alumni, current student, parent, board member or in any way connected with our truly unique programs here, we’d love to hear about and share your experiences and reflections with the larger SSU community.  Who knows, we might even seek you out and ask for a contribution that we’ve heard about and believe would be valuable for others to hear as well.

Some pieces to forward to in the near future include developments in the new BAIS/BIS programs and the Asia Travel Study term that starts this January.

Keep tuned in and we’ll keep you posted.

Kendall and Shelley