Dordt College News

Dordt students travel to Honduras

July 15, 2004

Summer break from Dordt College has been a memorable one this year for six students who spent three weeks living with Honduran families in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Students participating in this foreign learning adventure were Maria Brasser, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Beth Dejonge, Hudsonville, Mich.; Stephanie Gunderson, Casselton, N.D.; Leslie Larson, Vermillion, S.D.; Rachel Van Driessen, Hawarden, Iowa, and Wesley Van Dyken,Windsor, Calif.

The trip is a three-week summer off-campus program, designed to give students significant involvement in a non-English speaking location. Accompanying the students this year was a Dordt College foreign language professor, Socorro Woodbury, who is a native of Honduras. Students had a class in the morning and another in the afternoon, supplemented with guest speakers and field trips to become thoroughly acquainted with the country’s language, religion, education, health, economy, etc. Hondurus Participants

“This trip was much more than just learning Spanish grammar and vocab,” commented Stephanie Gunderson regarding the trip. “It was about experiencing a new culture and realizing that we have so much in this country that we take for granted.” Gunderson said the trip was very challenging for her, but an excellent experience that forced her to reset her priorities and made her truly thankful for everything she has.

On her first trip outside of the U.S., Leslie Larson was surprised by the disparity between homes and wealth on opposite sides of a river. One shore had dilapidated shacks, while on the other were beautiful homes with security devices including bars, electrical wire, locks and alarms.

Free time was spent exploring, including a trip to the ocean and the Pulhapanzak waterfall. “The landscape in Honduras is beautiful,” said Rachel Van Driessen, who particularly loved the mountains. Another student was struck by the elaborate Mayan architecture in the ancient temples.

Both Van Driessen and Gunderson appreciated the opportunity to merge into the culture, interacting with the people from the community. “We really appreciated and relied on the many Hondurans who were willing to be involved with different aspects of our trip, from hauling us around to cooking our meals,” said Gunderson.

Van Driessen added, “It was very interesting to spend time living in a country that is so different economically than the US, and seeing poverty all around was something to adjust to.” Another adjustment was the menu, which Larson said included bananas in soup, banana chips, banana platinas, etc. “I never knew there were so many ways to make bananas!”

The best part about the trip, said Van Driessen, was the people of the church that they had the opportunity to know and spend time with. “They were always making us feel welcome and loved,” said Rachel. “I truly saw that the family of God extends to all nations and cultures around the world, and the bond as brothers and sisters in Christ is something amazing to experience.... It was a wonderful trip, and I would love to go back.”

All students at Dordt College are expected to fulfill a cross-cultural requirement to learn about and experience other cultures. The cross-cultural requirement may be met in a variety of ways, ranging from 24 semester abroad programs to six summer short courses that garner three college credits toward a degree.

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