Pen of the President Fall 2009

The Consortium for Global Education is made up of forty-eight Baptist Colleges and exists for the purpose of assisting in the development of international education. Member institutions have established over 200 partnerships in 53 countries. The programs range from extended, two-way exchanges of students and faculty, to summer programs for intensive study of culture and foreign language, seminars in economic development, delegation site visits, and brief conferences and symposiums for institutional representatives. Consortium members have a commitment to international education, service, and sharing. Having just returned from a successful site visit to the countries of Egypt and Tunisia, I have had my commitment to international study experiences for our students reaffirmed. There are at least four reasons that I feel strongly about this.

Our World is Shrinking. Though the size of our globe is not literally getting smaller, the advent of affordable air travel, instant communications, and cultural and financial interdependence has brought people closer together as never before in our history. A decision made on one continent may have an immediate impact on another. Our students will be launching their careers at a time when the United States is most vulnerable to developing events around the world. Studying abroad or even visiting other countries for a short time helps students to understand some of the intricacies involved in travel and communication that will likely impact their futures.

“Our students will be launching their careers at a time when the United States is most vulnerable to developing events around the world.”
It Promotes Understanding Between and Among Cultures. I have had the privilege during my lifetime of visiting fifteen different countries. In every case I have been remarkably impressed not with how different we are, but rather, the extent to which we are all the same. Peace, good will, and understanding consistently emerge as byproducts when representatives of different cultures are allowed to interact.

Students Develop Independence and Maturity. I will always remember a shy young lady who went off, over her parents’ mild protests, to study for a semester in a foreign country. During the term the parents made a trip to see her and could not believe what they found. Their shy, withdrawn daughter was negotiating subways, currency, and language in a foreign culture like an expert. Upon her return to college, this student continued to exhibit leadership qualities for the remainder of her college career. This pattern is repeated over and over each year as students accept the challenge to move outside of themselves.

International Travel Provides Opportunities to Share the Christian Faith. We often think of missionary work as belonging only to professional missionaries. However, many countries will not allow missionaries to live or work within their borders. Educational exchanges, on the other hand, are always welcome, especially when they incorporate the teaching of English. Over the years CGE exchanges have provided numerous opportunities for students to share their beliefs. Chinese students, Muslim cab drivers, Latvian businessmen, and many others have had the seeds of faith planted by students participating in international projects.

It is my desire that every Missouri Baptist College student have the opportunity for an international experience. We will continue to seek relationships with foreign entities that will make this affordable and rewarding.