Eastern Mennonite University students studying on cross-culturals this summer traveled to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Washington D.C. and South Africa.
Cross-cultural study, which students have called an integral and “life-changing” component of EMU’s core curriculum for more than 30 years, has taken students to more than 80 domestic and global locations such as the Middle East, Lithuania, Central America and China.
Whether with a full semester abroad or as part of a summer or alternative program, students fulfilling their cross-cultural requirements establish the foundations they need for living, serving and leading in a global context.
“What we’ve experienced, which has provoked much thought and emotion, are the many ways in which one history can be told,” the South Africa group wrote in the “Understanding the Boer Narrative” entry on the cross-cultural blog. That trip is focused on the nation’s legacy of colonialism and apartheid, and its attempts to overcome that past.
In Puerto Rico, students observed the “awe-inspiring” perseverance of people still suffering the effects of Hurricane Maria, wrote Emily Lam. The group, led by Professor Jenni Holsinger and Adam Yoder, also learned about the island’s history, participated in service, and visited Aibonito, San Juan and El Yunque.
The group in Mexico, led by Linda and Brian Martin Burkholder, learned about cultures in different regions of the country, and visiting Mexico City, Teotihuacan and the Costa Esmeralda of Veracruz. They also visited a church youth group in Ecatepec, near Mexico City.
“Despite the language barrier we all got along great,” wrote Emma Picht. “Some of us made bets over hot salsa, and we played word games to practice our Spanish and their English. … Jessica, one of the girls from the youth group, and I connected over music and singing, despite my limited vocabulary.”
In Washington D.C., students in EMU’s cross-cultural urban studies, internship, and community living experience at the Washington Community Scholars’ Center are gaining professional experiences through internships. They also learn about urban cultures, history and life through various tours and a course titled “Blues & Dreams: A Multicultural History of Washington D.C.”
Beginning August 1, Beth Good ’03 will be EMU’s director of Intercultural Programs. Currently the Kenya Country Representative for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), she has also lived and worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Her other roles have included MCC’s global health coordinator, the director of clinical services of Hope within Community Health Center, the HIV program coordinator for Eastern Mennonite Missions, and instructor for EMU’s RN-BSN program. She earned her PhD and MSN from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania.