The Intercultural Studies Trip is an opportunity for all students to experience work in the mission's field while traveling. Whether students are planning on going into missionary work in the future or not, this is a chance to learn about the world in a whole new way.
The intercultural studies trip is a nine-week-long trip during which students travel to multiple countries and spread the gospel through teaching, service projects, as well as other missions work. This is an opportunity for students of all majors to get out of their comfort zones and learn more about other cultures.
Dr. John Easterling has been in charge of the Intercultural Studies Department at The University of Northwestern—St. Paul since 1988; the trips have been going on since 1990. Over the years, hundreds of students have been able to go on these trips with Dr. Easterling as well as other leaders and experience all of the opportunities that come along with these trips.
Easterling said, "A trip like this tends to help people look at missions in a whole new way. People don't leave the trip immediately with a call to missions but many end up wanting to go into missions at some point after going on this trip."
Applications for the 2018 intercultural studies trip are now open and will remain open until December 17. There are still several spots open on next year's 2018 trip. Applications can be found on Moodle by searching the course "Application for ICS Overseas Internship-FA18" and then self-enrolling.
The Intercultural Studies trip 2018 destinations will be: Torcy, France; Central Asia; Bangkok, Thailand; Kruizawa, Japan and then finally Oahu, Hawaii.
In Torcy, France the team of students will be working on a new church with the Rinderknecht family—a husband and wife missionary team who started the church in Torcy. The team will be helping with ministry—in past years this has consisted of leading worship services, helping with children's ministries and more.
In Central Asia, the team will be working with UNW graduates who are already serving in Central Asia. One UNW graduate teaches English literature in a school there and another helps women who want to escape a life of prostitution. Students will be helping these UNW graduates with ministering to people as well as teaching English.
The team of students will then go on to Bangkok, Thailand where they will be staying for 4 plus weeks. The team will be teaching English in the Santisuk English school with the Cable family—a missionary family that has worked with the Santisuk English School for many years. The Santisuk English school has multiple campuses and each campus has its own church. Students will be dispersed throughout different campuses of the Santisuk English School.
Intercultural studies major and Junior, Heidi Anderson said, "My favorite part of the trip was overcoming my fears in Thailand. In Thailand, we taught conversational English to Thai adults and that was my biggest fear. The first day of teaching was not easy but I started to develop relationship with the students and I became comfortable in teaching ESL people. I don't know if I want to do that again, but I am more confident now!"
A large part of the curriculum at the Santisuk English school is Bible classes. "A large majority of the students who stay at Santisuk for a long time mostly end up coming to Christ" said Easterling.
After this, the team will be going to Kruizawa, Japan to do a Christmas outreach with missionary, Janet Brown. The team will spend about a week there ministering to children through Christmas festivities.
After Japan, the students will be going to Camp Homelani on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Camp Homelani is a salvation army camp right on the beach of Waialua where students will be debriefing their trip and going over everything that they learned. Easterling said, "Debriefing is serious because we really want students to process everything that they have learned—we spend at least a couple of days on this."
For students who are majoring in intercultural studies or any other related fields, Dr. Easterling recommends taking this internship Junior year. If a student is not majoring in intercultural studies, they can declare an intercultural studies minor. Declaring this minor requires 20 credits in intercultural studies classes. If a student goes on this internship, there are 8 credits taken before the trip and then another eight during the trip itself.
The cost of the trip is $5,000 for all travel expenses, meals, boarding, and other essentials. Once applications have been submitted for the trip, there are scholarships available to all students--$1,000 for Intercultural Study majors and $500 for Intercultural Study minors.
This is an incredible opportunity for anyone who is interested in missions, traveling the world, and seeing cultures from a completely new perspective. Anderson said, "If you are interested in being an overseas missionary or even just exploring different countries in a missions trip, I would recommend for you to check it out. You learn so much about other cultures and yourself as well!"