The size of Goshen’s on-campus student body ballooned overnight as 32 students returned safely home last evening from their fall semester of Study Service Term (SST). Around 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, 14 students returned from the Egypt SST unit and nine students arrived from the fall Peru unit; six students stayed behind to travel in neighboring countries. Early Thursday morning, nine students arrived home from the American Sign Language unit in Jamaica. Friends and family greeted the SSTers with excitement as they arrived on campus after spending more than three months abroad.
“Coming home is surreal but I was definitely ready for it,” said Melissa Kauffman, a junior from the Egypt unit. Kauffman and her peers made history as the first group of Goshen students to go on SST in Egypt. Highlights of the trip included visits to the world-famous pyramids, a trip to the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, and drinking lots of tea with friends and strangers.
“SST is a difficult experience to process,” said Peter Miller, a junior from the Egypt group. “It makes you think, it exposes you to new things. It’s hard to sum up three months of your life in one sentence.”
As fall SSTers returned to campus, students in spring SST units have been gearing up to leave next month. This Jan., 24 students will travel to Tanzania and 15 students will head south to Peru. The Tanzania unit, which is only offered every three years, will be led by Associate Professor of Biology Ryan Sensenig and his wife Donna Shenk Sensenig. Students in the Tazania unit have been preparing for their trip by studying the Swahili language, Tanzanian culture, history and geography. Throughout the semester, the Tanzania SST students met in class four days a week, in addition to small group and one-on-one conversations.
Students in both spring Tanzania and Peru SST units are feeling a mix of excitement and trepidation about the upcoming semester. “The prospect of immersing ourselves in a completely foreign culture is beyond frightening, but the friendship and family-like ties that will be created…(will) far outweigh the fears and doubt,” said Mark Meier, a sophomore going to Tanzania.