A Fresh Taste for Life – A Global Internship Perspective

The first time I walked into the local market, it was a busy morning. Taxis, cars, and motorcycles filled the streets, and sounds of children’s laughter and women bargaining in a language I didn’t recognize filled the air. I smelled sweet and spicy aromas entirely new to my senses. I looked around and noticed a fruit juice bar and a fried rice restaurant. Workers fetched fresh ingredients for each meal as customers placed their orders. I marveled at the technique used to prepare food over tall flames and how the smell of spices overcame the space.

As I continued through the market, I made it to the meat section where whole chickens, small sharks, and a wide array of seafood were available for purchase. For someone hesitant to try seafood my entire life, I soon realized eating it fresh from the ocean made a world of difference.

The market became somewhat of a metaphor for my entire cross-cultural internship in Southeast Asia. It was beautiful and full of color. It was also hot, crowded, and confusing. I was completely unaware of how to navigate my way through the crowds or place meaning to the new words I was hearing. I was like a young child experiencing the world for the first time. Each sight, sound, feeling, and smell captivated and challenged me. The newness of it all felt strange, but fresh and beautiful at the same time.

Moving overseas for a year was something I had been anticipating with excitement since I was a little girl. However, it was also something that filled me with incredible fear and uncertainty. Choosing to live overseas for 13 months with a team of Bethany Global University (BGU) students and join a long-standing community of Christian workers gave me the comfort I needed to take this big step.

The relationships I made with the locals made them feel like family. I witnessed and participated with women who were fighting human trafficking and bringing love and restoration to young girl’s lives. I watched as they partnered with other locals who handled fundraising and administration of this ministry. I taught English and facilitated activities and arts to help the girls heal.

By working with this ministry, I recognized my own capacity for administration and how it’s a crucial aspect of missions. BGU placed me in a setting where I learned many tactics applicable to missions, from being a long-term worker on the field, to partnering with locals, and to working in administration for ministries.

Today, I can see myself working for a nonprofit, leveraging the skills I learned during this study abroad to support local women as leaders. Before this intercultural training, I didn’t have the perspective and practical knowledge of how to make missions sustainable. Now, I have confidence that my hands and heart will always be in missions, whether I serve in the U.S. or in another country.

As I reflect on my life in Southeast Asia, I am unsure whether I will return there to serve long-term. Yet, I’m confident that the hands-on and academic training I participated in and the lessons I learned will stay with me forever.

New elements of my personality, likes, dislikes, and skills came to light. I developed a deeper understanding of who God is, who He created me to be, and what it looks like to serve Him.

My global internship showed me that my part in God’s work globally looks different than I initially expected. I went overseas focused on the overwhelming needs I perceived and left empowered to partner with locals in the work they are already doing to share the Gospel.

I’ve learned that life can often feel like navigating my way through the market. Difficulties and challenges will persistently arise, but they can never take away from the beauty and possibility God has in store for us. I will be forever grateful I confronted my fear of the unknown and took initiative to follow what God put in my heart from the start.

Leaving the Western world to live in Eastern Asia often had me pondering my worldview, perception of self, and perception of God. There were frustrating and straining moments in this inner work, but just like my first day in the market, there was beauty in discovery.

– Written by a senior at Bethany Global University during the transition phase of global internship.

Author’s Note

When I first decided to pursue intercultural studies at a university level, I did not recognize the impact it would have on my life or future. What began as a basic interest in other cultures and ways of life, quickly became a core part of how I view and interact with the world. I feel a greater connection to the people and cultures surrounding me and can better communicate cross-culturally. Pairing this with a double major in Early Childhood Education and Bible and Theology has made me well-rounded and prepared for a diverse work environment.

Pursuing coursework related to intercultural communication and relations equipped me to love those around me in action rather than mere intention. The study of culture is essential to anyone desiring to pursue mission work overseas. Moreover, an understanding of culture is becoming a crucial component in our ever-diversifying world. This degree is multifaceted for those who desire to make a Christian impact in a secular field or within formal cross-cultural ministry.

As I look ahead to graduation, I feel confident in my future career placement because of the education and experience I have received during my four years at Bethany Global University. As I mentioned in my global internship story, I’ve grown in more ways than I could have imagined. I truly recommend this training and degree program to anyone interested in cross-cultural work and ministry.