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Into All the World

Global Service-Learning at Nyack College

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The mission of Nyack College is to prepare students to “take the whole gospel to the whole world.” As such, Nyack College is committed to educating students who have a global perspective and who will make life decisions accordingly, regardless of their academic major or the career they choose.

One of the most significant ways that Nyack seeks to develop this mindset in students is through its Global Service-Learning (GS-L) program. GS-L courses are offered around the world in a variety of academic disciplines. The lineup of 2017 courses includes studies in Cuba, England, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Italy, and Costa Rica.

Each of these courses combines study with service in an on-site experience overseas or in a cross-cultural location in North America. Students in GS-L courses don’t just travel to learn. They learn as they serve. These experiences often shape the way they understand their calling and their future.

Into All the World
Global Service-Learning courses are offered around the world, including the Philippines.

Lauren Lebo from West Simsbury, Connecticut, is a May 2016 graduate who took several GS-L courses as a part of her nursing degree studies. She recently reflected on her GS-L experiences.

My worldview and my role as a nurse and as a follower of Christ have been changed by GS-L at Nyack. No matter how much one learns about a culture or a nation on paper, nothing compares to living in that culture and experiencing it firsthand. I have been to Costa Rica, Cameroon, and India to volunteer, study nursing, and immerse myself in these cultures. Each place taught me something different, and each lesson was equally important.

In Costa Rica, I was surrounded by suffering, sickness, and poverty. It was easy to become overwhelmed, but I learned that the best thing I could do is help the individual in front of me. Instead of trying to save the world, I realized that I needed to focus on one person, one task, and one moment at a time. That realization set me free to care and love.

In Cameroon, I learned how powerfully a culture’s mindset influences its health care. Traditions are passed from generation to generation. Before we could offer people health care, we had to offer education so that people realized their need for quality health care. In Cameroon, we encountered a three-year-old girl sick with malaria. We had to refer her to a hospital, which was a four-hour walk away. Because her family could not afford the hospital, instead of taking the girl to the hospital, they took her to the local medicine man. He could not help her, and the little girl passed away the next day.

That little girl’s death shifted my perspective on nursing and medicine. I have been given the privilege of education and access to resources. I would not be fulfilling my call as a nurse if I did not share that education and those resources with others.

Into All the World
Tyler Harju in Nepal

In India, I learned the importance of helping to create sustainable communities. So often we want to step in and save everyone. I learned that what matters more is empowering others to help themselves. I have done my job well when my patients no longer rely solely on me but instead can stand on their own.

Tyler Harju, a 2016 graduate from Pingree, Illinois, and an Interdisciplinary Studies major, experienced the synthesis of his interests in the beautiful Himalayan country of Nepal.

His class visited a social business that linked his love for outdoor ministry, development, and intercultural service. His lecturers included a hotel owner, a Tibetan refugee, a corporate trainer, an abolitionist, a trekking guide, and the two daughters of lepers.

Trekking through the Himalayas, Tyler reflected on the convergence of the passions he believes God has given him. “I was astounded by the poverty and oppression of Nepal and also equally amazed by its culture and the overall beauty of the country.” Along with that of other Intercultural Studies students, his research at Nyack College came alive as he was able to discuss the state of the United Nation’s millennium development goals, sustainable development practices, and the challenges facing the global Church.

Global Service-Learning at Nyack encourages students to consider how their education and their work fit into God’s plan to redeem our world. It is rooted in the mission of our school that reaches back to 1882. This mission has not changed; it is still to see the love of Jesus expressed through the gospel wherever our students go and through whatever they do.

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