Global studies student gains valuable cross-cultural experience

Posted: November 7, 2012

Eunice Chow is busy learning new phrases in Farsi, finding out she likes curry, and making many dear friends.

For the last three months, the Briercrest global studies major has been in Toronto taking courses through a partnership program with Cross Training Global. The courses are designed to equip students for cross-cultural ministry.

“They’re all taught by experienced missionaries,” Chow said explaining her classes. “Their emphasis is really putting into practice what you’re learning.”

During their stay in Toronto, each student in the program is partnered with an ethnic church where they gain first-hand cross-cultural experience.

“I’m with a Persian church and am learning both how to interact cross-culturally and also just how to come alongside others of a different ethnic background,” Chow explained. “We are being taught over and over again the importance of establishing relationships with people that we hope to share Christ with and not to see them as a project in any way but to really have a relationship with them and reflect the way Jesus approached people.”

One of the ways Chow is building these cross-cultural relationships within the Persian church is through listening.

“It’s just really amazing to hear all their stories and exciting to see what God is doing,” she exclaimed. “It’s really great to be able to join them and feel welcomed into their fellowship time and learn a little bit of Farsi.”

Tim Stabell, the director of Briercrest global studies program appreciates the format of the program.

“They do have an academic component, but the emphasis is on mentorship,” he said. “The other piece is in the ethnic church. (Students) take cross-cultural communication and then they can do practical assignments in that church context.”

Stabell says the Cross Training Global partnership broadens the training that Briercrest is able to offer its students.

“What it does for us is it gives us the option of offering training in urban ministry, which obviously being out in the countryside, we can’t do here very effectively.”

All of the courses Chow takes in Toronto apply toward her Briercrest degree. Following her semester there, she will do an internship overseas.

“It has to be outside of Canada,” she said. “There are certain requirements that have to be met, and as long as you’re able to accommodate those, it can be anywhere. We’re able to choose and follow where God is leading.”

Chow, a Vancouver resident, says deciding to come to school at Briercrest was also about following God’s lead. She hadn’t heard of Briercrest until her youth pastor made a list of Christian post-secondary schools during her Grade 11 year. In Grade 12 she looked at Briercrest’s website.

“I saw the global studies program and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. I would definitely want to learn all this,’” she said.

She put off looking at the website again until March of that school year.

“I felt this nudge to check the website,” she explained. “I’d hesitated to apply because I didn’t want to pay the application fee. The very first thing I see is a promotion where the application fee has been waived – and this is the last week of March and the promotion was only for March. I thought, ‘There’s no harm in applying. If I get in then I’ll go.’ That’s how it began. I haven’t regretted it.”

Chow also hasn’t regretted her time in Toronto. She thinks the program would help just about anyone.

“Even if you are going to be a business person or do anything outside of your house, you’re likely to interact with someone of a different ethnic background,” she said emphatically. “That’s super significant and also how that applies to how I share about Christ with someone who might have certain cultural barriers. I’m thankful for the time I’ve had here.”