AFP Local News Blog – Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

– News: EMU president visits school group in Guatemala, Tuesday, 12:25 p.m.
– News: BC getting set for Alumni Community Service Month, Tuesday, 9:15 a.m.



News: EMU president visits school group in Guatemala, Tuesday, 12:25 p.m.

It was a crash course in cross-cultural learning and a long-time dream come true.

Eastern Mennonite University President Loren Swarzendruber and his wife, Pat paid a whirlwind visit Feb. 6-10 to the 22-member EMU student group that is spending spring semester in a cross-cultural seminar in Guatemala, Central America.

Dr. Swartzendruber took seminar leaders Jim and Ann Graber Hershberger up on their invitation to come, noting that he and Pat wanted to visit a cross-cultural group on site ever since becoming president.

During their brief stay, Loren and Pat visited EMU alumni Jared and Tracey Stoltzfus and Jeff Eschelman and his Honduran wife, Soila, who are doing volunteer work in the country. They heard a missionary family talk about their Bible translation work, toured a large Catholic church, worshiped with and took a two-hour boat ride with the EMU group, heard presentations from the leaders of SEMILLA and CASAS where the students study Spanish and had meals with local host families.

“It was great to see the students ‘on location’ and to talk with them about their cross-cultural experience part way through the semester,” said Swartzendruber. “We were reminded again of the life-changing nature of these opportunities, a part of the college experience that is unique within higher education.

A personal delight for Loren and Pat was to reconnect with a young woman whom they had hosted in their family more than 10 years ago while she was a student at Hesston (Kan.) College. “She met Christ at Hesston, returned to Guatemala and a good job in the government in a planning office, and then entered seminary,” Swartzendruber noted. “She is now a few months from completing her masters degree and will seek a pastorate in the city.

“Many institutions provide international experiences for a small percentage of students,” the president added. “But few universities provide their own faculty members to accompany the group as teachers and mentors as EMU does.”

Another group of 24 students, led by Bob and Kim Gingerich Brenneman, is spending spring semester in a cross-cultural seminar in India.
– Item by Jim Bishop


News: BC getting set for Alumni Community Service Month, Tuesday, 9:15 a.m.

If Bridgewater College has its way, thousands of alumni, students and friends will descend upon service, charitable and humanitarian agencies across the country in March to participate in the college’s annual Alumni Community Service Month.

In past years, BC alumni have volunteered at their local United Way offices, Salvation Army, churches, soup kitchen, food pantries, thrift stores, parks and recreation departments, doing everything from providing firewood to needy people to bagging lunches and visiting the elderly.

“Alumni Community Service Month is a great way for our alumni to unite across the country as service volunteers,” said Wendell Esbenshade, director of alumni relations at Bridgewater. “They can get out and give back by providing valuable help to hometown agencies, while at the same time building good will by representing the college in various communities.”

Esbenshade said the BC Office of Alumni Relations will provide a list of agencies that alumni can contact.

“If there aren’t any agencies listed that are near you, or if you’d like to volunteer with other agencies, we encourage you to find an opportunity in your area,” he said.

Esbenshade added that volunteers should make appointments with agencies a week or two in advance, just in case the agencies need to make special preparations for volunteers to be there.

Further information about the BC Alumni Community Service Month may be obtained by calling the BC Office of Alumni Relations at 540.828.5451, or by e-mailing

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