By Tracy Berg
I’ve been giving tours of the campus at George Fox University since my freshman year, and I’ve talked about our study abroad programs so many times that I can practically tell you about our May Serve program in my sleep. My junior year I got a little more excited to talk about traveling abroad through Fox because I was signed up for the Israel/Turkey/Greece Juniors Abroad trip in June. And then, this past Tuesday, the tour I had been waiting for arrived. I was able to tell the group of prospective students and their parents that I had just returned from a study abroad trip, and that all the preparation and planning and waiting had been more than worth it.
For three weeks in June I followed the early church around Israel, then Turkey, then Greece with 11 other George Fox students and two professors. I could tell you about riding a camel on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, or about bartering with vendors in the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, or about watching the sunrise over the Aegean Sea in Greece, but my biggest takeaway from the trip was how much it strengthened my faith.
It’s often hard to truly understand geographical aspects of the Bible. When the Apostle Paul walked to Jerusalem, how far was it? What was the terrain like? Well let me tell you – we drove to Jerusalem in an air-conditioned bus, and I was still hot. It took us about an hour to drive up along the rocky terrain to reach the safety of the city walls. Being able to walk through the Old City of Jerusalem where Jesus once carried His cross was incredible. Encountering the old cities of the Bible alongside my peers was such a great bonding experience, too.
No matter which Juniors Abroad trip you sign up for, or which May Serve country you go to, or which countries you experience while on semester abroad, you will be changed. You will be challenged in every aspect of your life, including your faith, and you will grow. I am so grateful to George Fox for the experience of a lifetime, and I encourage all Fox students to take advantage of a study abroad program. Nearly 50 percent of Fox students travel abroad while they’re in school – why not join them?