BestSemester Students Share Programs' Impact

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WASHINGTON DC--Four current CCCU students from Trinity International University, Whitworth University, and Seattle Pacific University are featured in a new BestSemester video, which premiered at the LA 2014 Engaged Community conference.  The video features their first-hand accounts of faith, learning, and adventure while studying off-campus through four CCCU BestSemester programs. The stories are real and unscripted, highlighting just a few of the benefits of experiential learning. 

“Over the course of the semester, we’re exploring this idea of what does it look like to integrate one’s faith with one’s calling,” says Alexander Archuleta, alum of the American Studies Program, and senior at Whitworth University. In addition to his classes two days a week, Archuleta spent an average of 25 hours a week working at the McCain Institute for International Leadership.  There he worked on a report about human trafficking at the Super Bowl in Arizona. "I never thought about how the Super Bowl could be a vulnerable event for human exploitation," says Archuleta.

When speaking of her time in the Middle East, Meagan Dooley, a senior at Seattle Pacific University, says, “I got to meet people on both sides of the conflict that the world is invested in, and I got to go there with other Christian university students.” While a student on the Middle East Studies Program, Dooley got to engage in the religion, culture, and politics of the Middle East without bias.  In addition to courses in Arabic, Islamic Thought, and Conflict & Change in the Middle East, she traveled throughout Israel, Turkey, Morocco, and Spain.  It was this exposure to the people and cultures of the Middle East that strengthened Dooley’s faith. “We definitely all walked out with a different picture of faith, but a stronger faith,” confirmed Dooley.

As a Social Work major, the Uganda Studies Program gave Benita Thorat an opportunity to not only study and learn about social work in the classroom, but also practice what she was learning through her internship with Compassion International.  Thorat, a senior at Trinity International University, explains, “I got to work with mothers who were either pregnant, or had children up to the age of three.” One of the most memorable experiences from her semester was the program’s service project in Rwanda.  In conjunction with Christian Action for Reconciliation and Social Assistance (CARSA), Thorat and her classmates helped to bring reconciliation between Rwanda’s genocide victims and perpetrators by working together to rebuild homes. Thorat described her Rwanda trip as an “awesome, eye-opening experience.”  Saying, “this type of reconciliation is only possible through Jesus.”

Calvin Taylor, also a senior at Trinity International University spent his fall 2013 semester studying at the Australia Studies Centre.  There, he lived with a host family and experienced the joys of having two younger brothers who looked up to him. Throughout the semester, Taylor studied Australian Aboriginal Cultures.  It was during this class that he had the privilege of listening to a panel of guest aboriginal speakers who were children of the stolen generation, young Australian aboriginals who were taken away from their families by the government. Taylor called this experience incredible saying, “it expanded the way I even see my own country.” When asked what he learned about himself as a result of the experience, Taylor said, “I think Australia just really showed me who I am, and how I view myself in light of how people view me.”

Though each student’s semester was unique, there is one common theme in each of their stories: this type of experiential learning transformed their lives. BestSemester challenges students to engage in rigorous academic study, and to interact and better this world by living out the story of Christ.  Students are immersed in other cultures, and are encouraged to serve in their local communities.  They apply the skills they learn in the classroom to real world internships that give them practical working experience.   For information on how you can use this video to promote off-campus study on your campus, contact Leah Mullen at lmullen@cccu.org.

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About BestSemester: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities offers 12 off-campus study programs, collectively branded BestSemester®, which expand learning opportunities for students from CCCU campuses and are designated as culture-shaping or culture-crossing programs. Culture-shaping BestSemester programs are: American Studies Program (Washington, D.C.); Contemporary Music Center (Nashville); Los Angeles Film Studies Center (Los Angeles); and Washington Journalism Center (Washington, D.C.). Culture-crossing BestSemester programs are: Australia Studies Centre; China Studies Program; India Studies Program; Latin American Studies Program; Middle East Studies Program; Programmes in Oxford; and Uganda Studies Program. Visit www.bestsemester.com for program details.

About the CCCU: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 174 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 119 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 55 affiliate campuses from 20 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.