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Stepping Out of the Classroom and Into the Bible

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Stepping Out of the Classroom and Into the Bible

Stepping Out of the Classroom and Into the Bible

Studying abroad sounds exciting because it offers new sights and opportunities, a little change from the mundane. It provides a thrilling way to earn credits toward a desired degree, and it compliments a student’s resume. Study abroad is more than travel and fun adventure; it is a true learning experience. Being immersed in a different lifestyle offers a chance to learn foreign languages and interact with diverse cultures. While they study abroad, students develop new perspectives and grow as individuals.

Georgann Kurtz-Shaw and shop ownerThis past January, Georgann Kurtz-Shaw (holding the GC pennant), along with another adjunct faculty member, eight students and one parent, spent three weeks traveling through Israel for their interterm course. The group from Greenville College partnered with Jerusalem University College in Jerusalem. This particular interterm trip focused on the geography, geology, and archeology of Israel and applying the discoveries to the Bible.

“We literally traversed the entire country of Israel in three weeks!” stated fellow group member, Lisa Burhanna. The small group spent the majority of their time in Jerusalem but also had the privilege of exploring Galilee in the northern region and Negev in the southern region. Their travels included visits to sites such as Ramah, Jericho, Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethlehem, and many more. They even explored the city of David and took a swim in the Sea of Galilee where Jesus performed numerous miracles. “There was not a day that went without a new experience,” Burhanna declared. “I learned how to read the Bible, the geography of the country and how it has affected the characters in scripture, about the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how it affects their everyday lives.”

Lisa at the Mt. of OlivesEach place they visited, they referred back to Scripture to study the events that happened there. They found excitement in seeing and touching the places that are written about in the Bible. “I like to visualize any story I read, biblical or not,” Shaw recalled, “so now I have more realistic mental pictures in which to place Abraham and Sarah, David and Goliath, Deborah and Barak, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus and the disciples.”

 However, the group also faced challenges during their travels. The current political situation in Israel greatly differs from that in the United Sates. While the United Sates still faces racial and ethnic conflicts, it remains less visible. In Israel, however, the group confronted racial and ethnic conflict every day. Shaw explained how they passed barrier walls and watched Israeli teenagers carrying guns through the streets of Jerusalem as part of their mandatory military service. The sight left her deeply unsettled. Yet, Shaw remains positive, vowing, “My trips to Israel have confirmed my commitment to continue hoping, working, and praying for a peaceful resolution to this and other conflicts in the Middle East.”

Group on Temple Steps

Despite differences, the challenges were beneficial to the students. Understanding and communicating with people who differ in ethnicity and religious beliefs prepares students to think, feel and relate effectively in an increasingly diverse culture. The students who traveled to Israel would agree that studying abroad offered numerous opportunities, challenges and rewards. They developed a global perspective that influenced their sense of identity and their relationships with others. Each of them will look back on their journey with fond memories and lessons learned.

Edith and the expanse

This story was published on May 19, 2014




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