Title: Tri-S program at AU impacts many lives
While many Anderson University students spent time with family and friends over Christmas break, nearly 115 students used the four-week break between semesters to travel with the university’s Tri-S program according to Willi Kant, the Director of International Education. The TRI-S (Study, Serve, Share) program provides opportunities for AU students, faculty, and staff to learn and serve in cross-cultural settings. An additional 100 students will travel with Tri-S over spring break. The Tri-S program sent out 10 groups over the winter semester break. According to Kant, the groups had many different purposes; the group in Costa Rica traveled with an environmental focus, while the groups in Brazil, Paraguay, and Jamaica spent time in ministry and work.
No matter the group’s focus, Kant believes Tri-S is an integral part of an AU student’s education. "The cross-cultural experience is very relevant to a liberal arts education," he said.
For the first time in the history of the Tri-S program, AU sent a group to Costa Rica with the purpose of focusing on the study of the ecology of the country according to Dr. Blake Janutolo, the group's leader. Janutolo, along with his wife Trish, led this inaugural trip of eight students. The group spent much of its time visiting the diverse countryside where they encountered an area devastated by volcanic activity, observed monkeys, sloth, crocodiles, and iguanas in the costal rain forests, and walked along Costa Rica’s continental divide in the tropical cloud forest.
The group also visited INBio (Costa Rica’s National Institute of Biodiversity), an organization that catalogs flora and fauna and searches for medicinal uses of plant life in the rain forest. For Janutolo, the highlight of the trip was “to be able to see the great bio-diversity of Costa Rica, to see flora and fauna I’d only studied about," he said. “It gives us hope that we can do things to preserve our environment and yet live in that environment.”
Leading his fiftieth trip with Tri-S, Dr. Fred Shively and his wife Kay took a group of 29 students to Athens, Greece where the group painted a fellowship hall. In addition to painting part of the church, the group spent a day at the Acropolis. Students also traveled to Corinth, Mycenae, and Delphi.
Seeing God around her in the Grecian landscape awed sophomore Megan Golden. “There were so many times that through the beautiful scenery and the landscape, the history and the ruins, you could see God’s awesomeness and creation,” she said. Seeing several of the places the Apostle Paul preached also made the Bible come alive for Golden.
A group of 11 students traveled to Jamaica under the leadership of Art and Gwen Leak, and Joy May. The group spent several days painting and mixing concrete for a church, according to senior Katrina Petre. Petre and the group also participated in the church’s Sunday morning worship and the Friday evening youth fellowship. “We really got to know the culture and what things are really like,” Petre said. “We all worked really hard and got a lot done for the church. I felt like we really made a difference.”
Junior Chris Batz traveled with four other men from AU to Brazil and Paraguay. The group led by Norberto and Julie Kurrle, led worship services in churches and city centers. According to Batz, the goal of the group was to be able to minister to the church however possible. The group accomplished this by leading worship, painting, and participating in sports ministry. Batz said volleyball is a popular sport the group played often with the congregations.
Because of the positive effect Kant believes Tri-S can have on student lives, as well as those to whom they minister, he strongly promotes the university program. Tri-S trips for spring break are planned for Toronto and Hope Hill, Ky., as well as summer trips to China, India, and Africa.
“We encourage students to participate in Tri-S program as part of their learning experience at the university,” Kant said. “Tri-S can have a significant impact on student lives personally, spiritually, and academically.”
---Katherine Paschal is Editor-in-Chief for the Andersonian, AU’s Student Newspaper