AU's School of Theology attracted a large number of young international students this year. Individuals from Kenya, Singapore, India, Nepal, Mexico and Russia have recently joined the ranks of seminary students pursuing graduate degrees at the SOT. Their diverse backgrounds and experiences add diversity and depth to the classroom experience.
David Sebastian, Dean of the School of Theology, said, "The Seminary community has been blessed by welcoming a good number of young international students. These students bring so much to the classroom, chapel worship and community activities. Our lives are richer when we learn to appreciate what God is doing around the world."
Jael Tang from Singapore is one such student. She recently completed her undergraduate studies in church music. Jael grew up in the Church of God in Singapore, which was how she landed at AU. After some consideration, Jael chose to stay and continue her education in the SOT because she "feels comfortable with the community and enjoys the campus." She is planning to pursue a Master of Divinity or a Master of Arts in Intercultural Service.
Jael appreciates the diversity of the School of Theology. "The wide variety of beliefs, backgrounds, ages, etc. make it a unique place to be. People assume that since it's a Church of God seminary, everyone is Church of God, but it's not."
Although she hasn't decided what she plans to do with her graduate degree, Jael doesn't plan on staying in Anderson forever. She is considering serving in the Church of God in places such as China, New Zealand or Berlin.
Armando Valdes from Mexico appreciates the community within the SOT and the wider AU campus. "The students try and all get together. Everyone is part of the same group. The community is really nice, for all the campus, not just the SOT," he said.
Armando has had connections to AU his entire life. "We have had Tri-S trips for as long as I can remember. Tri-S has been coming to sing at my church for at least 20 years," he said. "I started translating for Tri-S trips. Through that I got to know Dr. Shively and Dr. Neidert. It's they're fault that I'm here."
After some encouragement Armando applied to AU School of Theology. He is now pursuing an MA in Intercultural Service. Armando hopes to someday serve on the mission field. However, he feels called to be a coordinator rather than a traditional missionary. "When groups do trips, someone must plan ahead. Someone needs to make connections and set up projects and activities. The preparatory work, that's what I want to do," he said.
Hellen Obwoge of Kenya says is at AU thanks to interactions with former students and graduates. "Some of our teachers graduated from the AU School of Theology. They would talk about their time in school," she said. In 2006 an SOT student did an internship at Hellen's university. Hellen became friends with the student and was encouraged to apply.
Hellen says that the cross-cultural transition has been a challenge for her. "The culture is totally different. The food is very sugary and salty. And the weather, it's so cold! I love to see the snow, but I don't want to walk in it," she explains. Hellen also misses her family. "I keep getting more and more homesick," she says. "But the encouragement from professors and students help me sustain and persevere."
"I have really enjoyed my anthropology class. This is my area. I love to study people's lives," She said. "I also enjoyed my spiritual formations class. The professor offered encouragement. It gave me strength." Hellen plans to pursue a MA in Intercultural Service.
—David Hynds is the Web Content Specialist for Anderson University.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,750 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.