If you’ve had any interaction at all with Nyack College, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Global Service Learning trips. If not, here’s a quick summary: Nyack College offers students the opportunity to go on Global Service Learning or GSL trips to different parts of the world for class credit! Taking the place of Global Literature 2, preaching classes, social work electives, and more, GSL trips provide students with the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and even outside the country.
Though I’ve never been on a GSL trip, it was something that attracted me to Nyack from the beginning, and I was reminded of that this week in chapel. This Wednesday, students from three different GSL trips got up during chapel to give a report of their experiences on these different trips. Several trips went out this January, but the three that were featured in chapel had gone to Nepal, Korea/Japan, and the Philippines.
First, Chase came to the front and shared about his experiences in Korea and Japan. Though he was there for a class, he learned so much more, and talked about the testimonies of the people he met. Many of the students who went on the trip are in the music department, but being a music student was not a requirement. They sang and played instruments in different cities, but it was a great opportunity for people of different majors to serve through a similar passion for music. The musical gifts were returned when the people Nyack’s students sang for, sang to them in return. Chase was amazed at the way the people sang and seemed to tell their stories with every note. Though the languages they sang in were different, music provided a platform for forming connections across all the cultural barriers.
Second, Tyler spoke about his experiences on the trip to Nepal. Several ministry students went, but it was also open to students wishing to take Global Literature 2– a General education or GenEd class required for all students. Tyler said he was astounded by the poverty and oppression of Nepal and also amazed by its culture and the overall beauty of the country. Nepal has a lot of problems with sex trafficking, and the Nyack students got to see how communities were being affected by it. It seemed overwhelming at first, as the students did prayer walks through neighborhoods where all the females had been sold to keep their families alive, but the students also got to see God’s work in these seemingly hopeless situations. A missions group has come into Nepal to establish tourist attractions in different parts of the country in order to give families a source of income so they no longer had to sell their female relatives. Tyler expressed how impacted he was by the loss the people were experiencing, but also by the amazing stories of hope.
Finally, Theresa talked about her experience in the Philippines. This trip was mostly made up of education and social work students, but– just like Chase and Tyler– Theresa talked about how much she learned outside of the classwork. “I know this sounds cliche,” she said, “but seeing people who have so little made me really appreciate all I have. These people practically have nothing, and they’re the happiest people I’ve ever met.” She went on to detail the poverty of the people, but also their extremely positive attitudes. Having never been out of the country, Theresa felt like this trip had been truly life-changing for her.
Like I said, I’ve never been on a GSL trip before, but hearing these stories made me wish I had gone on one. If nothing else, I’m extremely thankful to be surrounded by students who are globally-minded, and share their life-changing experiences with their peers when they return from trips like this. I’m so thankful that my classmates have the courage to travel, the motivation to work hard, and the willingness to hold on to their memories and let what they’ve learned impact their lives back on the Nyack campus.