Live and Learn

Written by Trenton Semple

There is nothing like taking sixteen upper division units, doing constant missions work, fitting in Devotions and Shouts, traveling constantly, seeing a new city, and perform these things all while trying to get some form of sleep. That is the new norm for us on the trip and it didn’t take long for us to realize that completing homework was going to be an incredible feat. Unfortunately, taking class Around-the-World does not get any easier. As a matter of fact if anything they get more challenging. Nightly readings, constant written assignments, test and quizzes all show up in our agenda. The challenge becomes in balancing our schoolwork and missions while trying to get good grades. For me and a few friends we feel as though we cracked the code.

Ellie Johnson and I meet almost nightly. We do not meet to socialize or to play cards (something I haven’t played in months) but we are here to peer edit. We sit down, flip open our laptops, and dive into correcting our papers and discussing the reading. It is a great way to stay on track and turn in solid work even when we are tired or in a bad mood. This really comes from the concept living in a learning community. All of us “Rounders” have the same class and the same schedule. We have graduate assistants who eat and travel with us. We also have the ability to knock on our professor’s door at any given moment, day or night. We have difficult classes, yes, but we have an unbeatable support system. Most importantly we are learning we have each other.

Brick by Brick

One of our projects in Thailand was to build a wall that would demarcate the new dorms for local students.  Promise Lutheran Church in Chiang Mai is working with local people to accommodate students who cannot afford housing.The Christians in Chiang Mai have a vision for housing low-income students and allowing them to attend school, even when financial hurdles are crippling. To that end, the ATW II team was able to donate enough resources to start this project, and we were also able to participate in the building of the first wall.

As we were the first foreign team to visit this site, we experienced the fact that 37 volunteers are not always the most efficient means for accomplishing a building project.

However, the local church leaders and students were so thankful for our time that we were spending with them.

They considered our friendship a blessing, and the work that we accomplished alongside each other was a symbol of this new relationship. As we left that place for the second and final time, we thought about our time with people and how it is often more important than any wall we can build.