It was three years ago when the new Director of the Honors Program at Roberts Wesleyan, Dr. Amy Kovach, and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Dave Basinger came to my office to share a vision for a new Global Honors program. The idea would include a three week program where students would experience academic learning and life in Brazil at the end of their second year. It was difficult not to catch the excitement and see the possibilities. They left my office and the planning began. Three years later I landed in São Paulo to join our first group of Global Honors students and experience first hand the transforming power of partnership, community, faith and learning.
When I arrived in São Paulo, I was excited to get to the Metodista University and see the faculty and students from Roberts. We arrived during lunch and saw our students seated throughout the eating area, comfortable and looking as if they were a part of the community. As we greeted each other, the stories of host homes, learning Portuguese and shadowing began. Students had found a rhythm of living in São Paulo. It was exciting to hear!
Over the next few days, I listened as each student spoke in Portuguese and presented their final presentations. I was impressed with and proud of each student! On Sunday, we attended two churches where four students shared their experiences. What a blessing! This trip changed the lives of our students, and they will return home with a stronger Global perspective and understanding of who God is in the world. This is an example of how students at Roberts connect their head to their heart and engage their hands. This is transformational education.
But this trip was more than observing the change in students; there was a change in me. My own experience in Brazil has drawn me closer to understanding who God is and how He is moving in our world. The visit allowed me the opportunity to understand that despite language and location challenges, we serve a God who continues to move. I return to campus asking the Lord to continue to open my heart to what I need to learn from my time in Brazil and to create more opportunities to bring our communities together.
~Dr. Deana Porterfield