Students travelling worldwide returning to campus share their stories

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Bethel College has had many students traveling around the world over this past semester. Students have travelled to Africa, Honduras, Australia and even unique cities around the United States. These students have travelled to an unknown area so that they may learn more, and as they’re beginning their treks back home to Bethel, we have caught up with a few of them.

Ian Billin, a senior math education major, took the opportunity to go and complete his student teaching experience in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. While there, Billin taught at a school called Academia Los Pinares. Billin said that he felt welcome while teaching there.

“Almost all of the teachers live in apartments right next to the school,” said Billin. “When we weren't teaching, we were constantly playing games, playing sports, going hiking and sharing meals together. The Honduran students and families that attend the school also really emphasize community. The culture is very relational. This made it easy for me to jump in and get to know people right away.” Billin even said he didn’t feel homesick. The community was helpful, but so were the FaceTime calls and even a visit from his mom and dad. While he never felt homesick, he did feel actually sick, throwing up one day from dehydration. That one bad day is outweighed by the good days, however. The experience of teaching in another country opened doors for Billin’s future as an educator. “I'm glad I got to spend my last semester of college doing this,” he said. “It was an experience I won't forget, and it opened the door to let me teach there again next year.” While Billin was 3,169 miles from Bethel, Jaclyn Holmes, a sophomore communication major, was 9,008 miles away in Brisbane, Australia. Holmes wanted to go somewhere that she had never been, and choose a country across the world. The experience of being half a world away was difficult. “The simplest thing could make me homesick,” Holmes said. “The hardest day was probably my first night in my host family's house. I set my suitcase and bags all on what's would be my bed for the next four months, and I got emotional. (It also didn't help that there was a gecko in my bedroom). I was overwhelmed with homesickness and the realization that I wouldn't see my parents [or] family or friends in person for four months hit me.” Holmes said that she soon found comfort with other students in her group working with the Australia Studies Centre (ASC). “I found that being vulnerable with fellow ASC students about my struggle and realizing that they were going through a similar thing, but it [made it] so much easier to cope with. I have a great Australian support system surrounding me.” Holmes learned much about the Australian culture. and was invited to participate in traditional Aborigine customs. This participation helped her to appreciate the native traditions. “It was beautiful to be a participant and welcomed into the Aboriginal culture,” she said. “[This trip] has made me a more independent, empathetic and adventurous person,” Holmes went on. “I find myself excited to join my ASC friends on an outing even though I may not know all the details. It is easier for me to ‘go with the flow.’ Also, I think being away from family has made me a more resilient person- meaning that I'm more capable to handle challenges or stresses that come my way.” The ASC made this video highlighting Holmes and other students and their work in Australia. While some students traveled to other countries, some American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting students stayed within the United States. These students traveled to complete their practicum for their degree. These students travel to get unique experiences outside of Indiana. Lydia Dykhouse, a senior interpreting major, is currently in Tulsa, Oklahoma for her interpreting practicum. While she might still be in the United States, Dykhouse has had many of the same experiences as Billin and Holmes. Dykhouse admits to feeling homesick, working hard in her studies for school and learning about herself as a person. “With this being my last semester at Bethel, I feel much more prepared to step out into the real world,” she said. “This internship has given me so much experience for what I hope to be doing for my career. It is exciting because, although there is always more to be learned, I feel like I have a foundation of knowledge from the program as well as the different experiences that I have had in these last ten weeks.” Dykhouse said that she doesn’t quite know where she’s headed after graduation, but is excited for whatever the future may hold. “I think that is the first time I have been able to say that as a senior,” she concluded. (Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash)
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