Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Change the World by Loving International Students
December 13, 2011

Did you know that over 100 countries are represented in the student body at Florida Tech, and that international students comprise over 20% of the student population? Many of them have been sent here on a student visa by their home country to study and then go back home with their newly-acquired education. What an opportunity to serve and love our international neighbors!

A group of people in our church comprise our International Student Ministry (ISM) Team, who have a big heart and a big burden to help and love these students. On a regular basis, they conduct "game nights" or "holiday meals" where they invite as many international students as they can to come and have fun, mingle, and build relationships with us Americans.

Game Night

The most recent game night was on Friday, October 28, in one of the Activity Rooms on the Florida Tech campus. Linda Condon, Daniel Hedman, Palmer Cash, and Tom Mlsek pulled this together, and they had at least 38 international students show up! They had a great time mingling with students from Saudi Arabia, India, Africa, the Caribbean Islands, and several other countries.

Tom led a rousing game of Pictionary with several Saudi students, and they had many laughs. Linda mused, "What was so funny was when I suggested a word to my team, many of them input the word into their smartphones to get the Arabic translation to find out the meaning of the word. Several of them told me it was helpful for them in learning English."

Thanksgiving Dinner

Another way we have been serving and loving these international students is by hosting holiday meals. This past year, the ISM Team has hosted an Easter meal and a Thanksgiving meal at Daniel's house. Both were a huge success!
At the Thanksgiving meal on November 24, over 30 international students came, hung out, had a huge feast, and built relationships. While dinner was still cooking, Tom started a game of (American) football out in the street. What a cultural experience for them!

When it was time to come in and eat, Daniel spent a little time explaining the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and talked about the plight of the Pilgrims when they came here, but also how they thanked God for the provisions He gave to sustain them. After the prayer, they all chowed down on turkey and all the fixings.

After the meal, everyone played a huge game of Crazy Uno (not your ordinary Uno, but Uno with a few "extra" rules thrown in, like whenever someone puts down a "9" everyone has to slap their hand on the center pile, and whoever is last has to draw a card).

A little later, Daniel met a few guys from Africa and a guy from India who had an interest in music. So they all shared songs they liked from YouTube and played around with the guitar. It was a fun day to connect with these students and build relationships.

If you are interested in getting involved with the International Student Ministry, contact Linda Condon at scottandlinda@hotmail.com, or Pastor Jonathan Culley at jculley@covenantpalmbay.org.