Missions / Student.Go

Student.Go 20-year anniversary

By Kim Wyatt

One of the characteristics that I’ve noted in almost every one of our plethora of Student.Go interns over the years is their resilience. The Oxford dictionary defines resilience as the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties. Of course, every Student.Go intern has difficulties.

Jo Ann Sharkey Reinowski served one summer in the early 2000’s in Toronto. Upon her arrival there were several unexpected and unwanted events in a row. Despite the difficulties with housing, transportation and the work she was supposed to do, she persisted with a smile on her face. Jo Ann was supposed to be an assistant teacher in an English Language Learner class with Somali moms, but after the first day of class the lead teacher ended up in the hospital. So Jo Ann found herself the lead teacher. Did she give up?  Absolutely not. She called her mom, a teacher in Texas, and got her input on how to create a lesson plan. Off she went the next day with her plan to teach. Was she terrified? Yes! But was she determined? Absolutely! In no time at all she was visiting families in their homes and experiencing the hospitality, culture and foods of her students.

Soon after Jo Ann served with us for a summer, Claire Cook arrived to serve for a semester in Toronto. Claire showed such resilience as she learned to travel by public transit and she served the international population at a faith-based community center, public school mom and preschoolers’ program and welcomed brand new refugee arrivals to their temporary housing. She was not afraid, but very surprised as she was accosted by a man with mental illness as she was leaving the subway station on her way to one of the centers. Claire showed such grace and determination as she did not allow this incident to deter her from her semester mission. She became part of our family. Having Claire live and serve with us for four months can do that.

More recently, in 2019, we had four Student.Go interns serve with us for the summer in Raleigh, NC. Valentina Gomez and Sara Pulido are both from Colombia. They served alongside Naomi Bass and Sunny Ikojoh. The four were a force in the neighborhoods where they engaged refugee and immigrant children while facilitating church youth groups to serve alongside them. I love watching the way this team supported one another, prayed for one another and cared for those in the neighborhoods with whom they were building strong bonds of friendship. One of the most amazing developments to watch was how Valentina and Sara were able to build trust and friendship with Spanish speaking families because they spoke the language of the families. It was truly amazing.

Our most recent Student.Go intern was Mattie Gilliam who served in Raleigh. Mattie too showed such resilience last summer. She jumped right into several relationships and settings that required her to move outside of her introverted tendencies. She shone brightly over the summer as she served as a camp counselor, befriending campers that were new to the country. She visited the homes of refugee families where she played lots of UNO and drank a lot of tea. During all this activity and all of the uncomfortable firsts, Mattie fell in love with her new friends and their families. The feeling was mutual. When I asked Mattie why she thought she connected so deeply with the families last summer, she responded, “Because I feel loved by them.” How beautiful! Isn’t that why we fall in love with God is that we feel loved by Him and by His people?

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