Study Abroad In Quito, Ecuador: Fostering Community

Study Abroad In Quito, Ecuador: Fostering Community

Armarlie Grier

Staff Writer

angrier@goshen.edu

 

Many students at Goshen College choose to participate in Study-Service Term, commonly known as SST, during their sophomore or junior year. However, SST isn’t the only study abroad option available to students.

Gloria Showalter, a senior studying PJCS (Peace Justice and Conflict Studies), Spanish, and Bible and Religion, decided to take a lesser-known turn in her studies abroad. Showalter, along with a number of other students including Tasha Friesen, JD Nafziger, Hilary Harder, Nina Fox, Gaby Piña and Brisa Peacock, chose one of the other study abroad programs affiliated with the college.

Through Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA), Showalter attended La Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Quito, Ecuador during the spring 2014 semester.

As a first year at GC, Showalter had the opportunity to take a class that she felt as if she had been waiting her whole life to take: Liberation Theologies taught by Regina Shands Stolzfus, PJCS professor. One of Showalter’s friends and classmates, Juan Moya, told her that the material he learned in that class reminded him of the church his parents pastored in Quito, Ecuador.

He recommended that if she was interested, she should visit. An internship with the Quito Mennonite Church allowed her to integrate PJCS with her desire to study abroad. Showalter described the internship as “multi-national and yet focused on the local issues and needs of the community.”

Her internship offered two classes to international students Notable ones for Showalter included Economic Policies of Inequality and Colonialism of North and South Americas.

In addition to her studies Showalter was involved with two church programs: EDUPAZ, a peace education camp for children, and the Colombian refugee project.

EDUPAZ teaches children about God’s love in all situations as an alternative to violence, while the refugee project provides meals, products, services, and support to those in need. The Quito Mennonite Church seeks to support displaced people and foster community physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually.

“They taught me how to keep following God and serving others, even when it’s really hard,” Showalter said about the people in Quito. “Life has its rough patches, but their love got me through it. They are a very loving community.”

Showalter relates her experiences to this year’s core value, global citizenship. “To be a global citizen is to learn from other people,” she said. “I learned how to love and how to keep working at it.”

An example of this loving attitude was apparent for Showalter in her church congregation in Quito. “The perspective the members have is that everyone is an integral part of the community,” Showalter said. “Everyone brings something to the community that everyone else needs.”

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