Paul Chamberlain: Professor Embraces the Lessons that Can Be Learned Abroad

By Anna Dirkse

When I first walked into Paul Chamberlain’s office three years ago, I was struck by the abundance of souvenirs on the bookshelves that line the walls. They’re filled with everything from miniature Moroccan “tagine” dishes to ornate Tibetan prayer scrolls to a Hard Rock Café glass from Sydney, Australia. Mixed among the old chemistry textbooks from Paul’s years of teaching are dozens of Lonely Planet travel guides from cities and countries all over the world. On the wall are pictures of sunburned, beaming students on white sand beaches, as well as old photos of George Fox science faculty.

There are stories behind everything in the office, and Paul’s good at telling them. I recently asked about a photo on his wall and was regaled with a story about the time Paul’s entire Juniors Abroad group got massages on a beach in Zanzibar. Paul laughed as he told the story, his eyes twinkling behind his wire-rim glasses.

He says he has too many favorite stories to count, but he’s pleased to share them with anyone who asks. I’ve been working for Paul for years, and every time I walk through his door to ask him to sign a document for a student or to ask his opinion on a flier I’m working on, he’s happy to tell the stories and share memories of his travels.

Paul’s office is a reflection of his time at George Fox University. Starting as an organic chemistry professor in 1976, he’s been in charge of coordinating all of the university’s Juniors Abroad trips since he took over as director of the program 20 years ago. He eventually became director of the Center for Study Abroad in 2014, when Juniors Abroad and the semester abroad office joined together. The office has changed significantly over the last four years: His old chemistry books have started gathering dust as the shiny new travel guides take over the shelves.

Paul’s work at the Center for Study Abroad led to the growth of many of the programs offered. “When we took over there were 26 students per year who studied abroad due to budget limitations,” Paul says. Now there are close to 60 a year – and many pay the same to study abroad as they do for a semester at George Fox. Paul hopes to see even more students studying abroad in the years to come – a goal that seems attainable as application numbers continue to rise.

Paul would argue that traveling abroad, and getting to experience a culture different than your own, is one of the most valuable things you could do as an undergraduate student. He says that traveling abroad “will be one of the greatest experiences of your life. Take time to reach out to the local population and get to know local folks, or at least students from other countries.”

Many George Fox students who travel abroad agree, and one of Paul’s favorite parts of the job is traveling with students on Juniors Abroad trips. Often students’ first time overseas, they are deeply impacted by the cultures they experience. Paul’s love for travel and his knowledge from his many trips are imparted to his students through their shared experiences abroad. When I asked some of his former students what they learned on their trips, two repeated Paul’s infamous motto: “Nothing ever goes quite as planned.”

“Embracing different cultures takes on a whole new meaning when you are physically in those cultures,” says student Bailey Sauls. This sentiment is echoed in other students’ statements and stories. Both Cayla Smith and Hannah Love say they are much more likely to travel after their experience on Juniors Abroad, and that Paul’s attitude and stories have impacted the way they think about international travel. “[Juniors Abroad] made me want to go seek out every other country in the world and see what amazing things they have to offer,” Cayla says.

Paul’s expertise and enthusiasm have impacted many George Fox students over the years, and I am glad that I’ve been one of them. Paul values traveling and studying abroad, something that has already greatly impacted my life. The chance to experience other cultures has changed the way I think about my own culture and about my place in the world.

I’m grateful to attend a university that promotes international experiences; I’m also grateful that George Fox has hired Paul to run the Center for Study Abroad. He hopes to make international travel accessible to more students, allowing more people to be changed by the world before they change the world themselves.

Someday, there will be a generation of George Fox alumni whose bookshelves also have souvenirs from around the world – all thanks to Paul Chamberlain.

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Alumni Update: Elisabeth Tissell

DSCN1597-2Recently 2014 graduate Elisabeth Tissell shared with us details about her new position with AmeriCorps. A politics major, she will lean heavily on her Spanish minor serving as a case manager for bilingual families. Here are more details from Elisabeth:

“I recently accepted an AmeriCorps position in Alamosa, Colorado! I will be working as a case manager with four or five families as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Many of the families are bilingual, so I will be using Spanish regularly. I will also have the chance to teach life skill classes, attend relevant court hearings, conduct home visits and plan numerous projects. The position starts August 1, and is a two-year commitment.

I am nervous, but excited. This job will stretch me emotionally as I confront difficult situations and problems. Fortunately, the position comes with housing; I will be sharing a house with other AmeriCorps participants, and each house includes a shared vehicle. God is good – I don’t have to find a car, an apartment or ready companions!

I want to thank Spanish professors Debbie Berho and Viki Defferding for their guidance and support throughout my last few years. Thanks to them, I feel prepared for this job and the challenges I will face.”

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My Study Abroad Experience: India

By Kelly Uchiumi (’14)

Vannakam! That means ‘hello’ in Tamil, the main language spoken in the state Tamil Nadu in India. Last fall I had the opportunity through George Fox to study for a semester in India and it has forever changed my life. When I first came to campus as a freshman I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I met with my enrollment counselor to look over my classes to make sure I would still graduate on time and picked India because it would allow me to take a global business class and have a rich cultural experience.

For three and a half months I took classes at a local university. Some of my favorite classes were Indian cuisine, where we learned how to cook with various spices and make regional dishes, and my weekly business internship at an outsourced accounting firm in the city. One of my favorite dishes to make and eat is coconut chutney with dosa, a very thin crepe made out of rice. I ate with my right hand everyday (because utensils are not used in India!) and learned how to bargain with a rickshaw driver to drive me to my internship every week. (more…)

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Mikaela Alexander’s Semester Abroad Experience in Rwanda

By Heather DeRosa (’14)

Mikaela Alexander is a senior Christian ministries major with an emphasis in missions. Mikaela is one of those people who constantly bring joy and love to those around her; her contagious laughter and energetic personality make her someone worth getting to know. She spent time studying abroad this spring in Rwanda, and recently shared about her time abroad and how it has impacted and changed her.

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My Juniors Abroad Experience: Israel, Turkey and Greece

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.

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My June Serve Experience: Romania and Moldova

The whole team with the gift that the center made us. It is a picture of the Word Made Flesh symbol with ‘WMF Romania’ underneath it. (Haley: back row, third from right.)

By Haley Bellows

After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the beginning of April, I was told that I would no longer be able to join my team of nine other students and two leaders on the June Serve trip to Romania and Moldova. After six weeks of very hard treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, God performed a miracle that I still have yet to fully grasp. Most of the cancer had disappeared, leaving me in remission. Even after the doctors cleared me to go I had much fear about my weakened immune system, but I could not be more thankful that I got this experience.

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My Juniors Abroad Experience: Amsterdam to Paris

By Lauran Woodruff

Pictured above: Lauran (left) and Anne Holiday explore Bayeux

Sometimes in life you undergo experiences that seem so unreal, or surreal, or just too good to be true, that you’re not entirely sure they happened. I’ve heard them called out-of-body experiences, or a “dream within a dream.” For me, they often feel like another life entirely, so distinctly separate from my day to day life, still real, but maybe the memories of someone else’s life.

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My May Serve Experience: Swaziland

By Sarah Cadd (’12)

Wow, what an adventure my time at George Fox University has been, and little did I know that it would not end after graduation. I was selected along with 14 other students and two alumni leaders as part of a May Serve team that would spend three weeks in Swaziland, Africa.

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Destination Costa Rica

Junior Bailey Dekker blogs about her adventures studying abroad

As a double major in Spanish and Communications with a minor in International Studies, a part-time worker and an active member in numerous activities around campus, I usually have my hands full and my weekly planner booked. However, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend this semester in the Pura Vida of Costa Rica.

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International Photo Contest Results

George Fox students are are given many opportunities to study and serve abroad, so it only makes sense to have a contest that celebrates the people they meet and places they visit. Over 300 submissions were received for the 2012 International Photo Contest, which were then pared down to 30 student and 15 employee entries. Winning submissions from both students and employees were announced in several categories: culture, landscape, people and best of show. Scroll down to see some spectacular photos.

Student Submissions

Best of Show: Anticipation – Shekinah F. Davis


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