In Chiang Mai, Thailand, Rounders taught English classes at a local middle school. Students are often intrigued but shy around a group of more than thirty foreigners. In order to break down barriers with these students, we often play some small and large group games. Here, Ellie and Kristine lead us all in some icebreaking games.
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.
From time to time, we try to sit down with our Rounders and catch up with how they are doing. However, because of the nature of our journey, these conversations often happen in places that are out of the ordinary. Here, I have a typical conversation with Kristine as we ride bicycles around an island paradise in Vietnam known as Cat Ba.
Not 3 hours ago we were all sleeping in the Beijing Airport after a night of adventuring. We had just walked off our 14th-and-a-half hour of flying into the Ulanaan Baatar airport. Our group of 37 Rounders had a healthy blend of jetlag, lack of sleep, and unfiltered excitement for a journey that we had just scratched the surface of. We had just finished signing paperwork to enter Mongolia and were anxiously waiting by the conveyer belt for luggage.
Then all the luggage from the plane started falling from the chute: metal luggage, duffle-bags, weird luggage wrapped in saran wrap, and various other types of luggage. Large backpack after large backpack quickly followed. Professor Lee, myself and a few other Rounders just start grabbing backpacks. We toss them to the rest of the team to start walking outside.
After a few minutes, 36 big backpacks, and plenty of manly luggage-throwing later, the magical chute that so graciously provided 36 Rounders with fresh underwear neglected to provide the 37th tired, sleep-deprived, and unfiltered-ly excited Rounder with his bag. That Rounder was me. I, who so stupidly jinxed everything by even bringing up the idea of losing luggage, lost my bag.
God puts us in community to grow us. He puts us there to remind us that we can’t do anything alone. We need Him, and we also need other believers. We can’t live this life alone. We need help. Sometimes it isn’t easy to notice that. Sometimes we get too into our own process, our way of doing things, that we forget we sometimes need a little help. I realized this when I was stuck for a day without my bag. It was only a day, but in that day I felt the love this team has for each other. I felt the love that God has so graciously given these Rounders to share with each other.
Around-the-World Semester® travelers (a.k.a., “Rounders”) departed for their journey today. Friends and family gathered on the Concordia University Irvine campus to say goodbye and pray for their trip.