Two new internship programs at Hope College are offering students an opportunity to consider issues of calling and faith through experiences abroad.
The Hope College/World Vision internship program placed two students in South Africa last spring in conjunction with Hope's Washington Honors Semester. Two more students spent nearly two months in Guatemala and Kenya this summer as part of a new initiative of the college's department of nursing.
The internships are supported by the CrossRoads Project at Hope College, a program that encourages the Hope community to explore the interrelationships among faith, learning, and vocation. The project develops and sustains specific programs and activities that support students, faculty, and others as they discern their callings. A five-year, $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. is funding the CrossRoads initiatives.
"The CrossRoads Project is committed to developing new internship opportunities in areas of special need," said Dr. David S. Cunningham, who is a professor of religion and director of the CrossRoads Project.
The Hope College/World Vision internship gave two students - senior Tim Fry of Grand Rapids and 2004 graduate Catherine Jones of Canton - an opportunity to live and work in Johannesburg, South Africa, for seven weeks. Both students worked with Jim Lutzweiler, a 1993 graduate of Hope College, who serves as a food aid policy advisor with World Vision's Food Resources Management Group in Johannesburg. World Vision is an international Christian relief and development organization. Fry and Jones helped Lutzweiler conduct research aimed at ensuring that World Vision aid programs are making progress toward their long-term goals. Other internship activities included traveling to food aid locations and participating in discussions about food aid policy with World Vision staff members.
"This is a program designed to build bridges, connecting Hope students with a broken world in ways that allow them to respond in an integrated way," said Dr. Joel Toppen, who developed the program and serves as assistant professor of political science at Hope.
The students spent half the semester in Johannesburg and the other half in Washington, D.C., where they participated in additional internships related to global poverty and development.
"When this opportunity came both to make a difference and learn more about how the world could be, I took it - and I'm very happy that I did," said Fry.
The other new internship program at Hope was created to give students a cross-cultural pediatric nursing experience that aims to expand their vision of vocational choices in nursing. Amanda Barton, assistant professor of nursing, spearheaded the new initiative. She is excited that the program gives students a chance to reach out to poor and vulnerable children - in addition to encouraging them to think about vocations other than those in the traditional hospital setting.
"I am thrilled with the experiences [the students] had this summer," Barton said. "I'm confident that living and working in another culture with at-risk children will positively influence their future careers as nurses."
Nursing major Jodi Ross, a senior from Goodells, spent the summer caring for babies at an orphanage near Guatemala City, Guatemala.
"It definitely was a divine appointment," Ross said. "I had an inkling that I'd be involved in missions as a career. Through this experience, I really saw the Lord's heart on orphans."
Rebekah Stewart, also a nursing student, traveled to Naivasha, Kenya, where she worked with a summer ministry team in a primary school for children from low-income families. Besides taking on the role of school nurse, Stewart, a senior from Hudsonville, had a chance to teach the students about topics such as first-aid and nutrition.
Barton created the internship program in partnership with Rainbows of Hope, an international organization whose goal is to minister to children in need. Both Stewart and Ross joined Rainbows of Hope ministry teams for the summer, and placed a special emphasis on providing health care for children.
"These programs are exactly the sorts of initiatives that we had believed the CrossRoads Project would encourage," Cunningham said. "We knew we could rely on the creativity of Hope faculty to develop such programs, and on enterprising students to take advantage of these opportunities."