Tabor College in Wichita Sends Faculty & Students to Bolivia

May 09, 2014

Categories: General News

Tabor College in Wichita sent two professors and five students to Bolivia March 21-29, as part of a study abroad course, to serve with Hospitals of Hope in Cochabamba.

Rick Bartlett, co-team leader and director of theological education, and Marlene Pietrocola, co-team leader and chair of the nursing program, both have experienced the academic and transformational experience of completing a college study abroad. Both Bartlett and Pietrocola co-taught this course.

“Having lived overseas and traveled to over 10 countries, I was encouraged by the attitudes of our students, many who had never been out of the USA before,” Bartlett said. “They had an adventurous spirit and a flexibility that is needed in cross-cultural situations.”

Andrea Wilson, the previous Tabor College nursing recruiter, connected Bartlett and Pietrocola to Hospitals of Hope. Wilson and her family were missionaries in Bolivia and often worked with this Wichita based organization.

Students representing the nursing, business and Christian ministries programs at Tabor College in Wichita were excited to be part of this college study abroad.

The trip taught students how to provide spirit-guided ministry in a cross-cultural environment. The course included extensive pre-trip preparation focused around growing in the spiritual life.

The team served in a variety of ministries in and around the hospital – including patient care, chaplaincy, prayer and orphan ministry.

They were also able to conduct three medical clinics in the Andes Mountains. At the end of each day, students were asked the question, “Where did you see Jesus at work?”

“One of the highlights for me was praying for the Hospitals of Hope administrator,” said Bartlett. “We were praying for a new facility that Hospitals of Hope was expanding into and one of the students suggested we also pray for Rudy, the administrator. As we prayed, it was obvious to all that this was a holy moment.”

One highlight of the trip for business and Christian ministry student David Gray was when a man demonstrated his faith in God in an amazing way.

“The most amazing moment of this trip was an embrace from a man who dedicated his life to preaching the gospel when he realized that I have done the same,” Gray said. “I may never, on this side of heaven, hear him preach, but the instant love and respect that was felt between us was something that language could have never spoken.”

The team also spent time experiencing the culture.

They visited the tallest statue of Christ in the world – known as the Christo de la Concordia. They hiked in the Andes Mountains, attended a professional soccer game and ate llama meat in a local restaurant.

Christian ministries student Kurt Wiedenkeller said, “It was wonderful and inspiring to see the richness and fullness of the smiles on the faces of people that seemed to have nothing. After being around the people we served and experiencing their happiness and joy for life, it was obvious they had far more than what originally met the eye.”

Business student Shauna Holloway echoed Wiedenkeller.

“We think that because we are Westerners we have it better, but these people are so incredibly resourceful. If we were put into similar conditions, most of us would lie down and fail.”

This trip was a life-changing experience for the entire group. As a result of the trip, Tabor College students are already talking about new directions for life and career.

Nursing student Maggie Sater commented, “The trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia with Tabor College was an eye opening experience for me in seeing the needs of others. I was truly blessed.”

The trip also provided valuable insights in the preparation for a trip to Thailand that students in Tabor’s new entrepreneurial ministry leadership program will take in late August through early-September.

“I’m looking forward to taking a team of MA students on a cross-cultural learning experience later this summer,” said Bartlett.

Due to the success of this study abroad course, the Tabor College in Wichita program chairs are already discussing plans for a similar type of cultural immersion course in 2015.

“This type of educational experience for an adult learner is transformational,” Pietrocola added. “This course brought three programs together in a cross-cultural academic setting. For many, it was a faith-shaping experience.”

Brett Andrews, executive vice president for Tabor College commented, “This ground-breaking course is an example of the added value of a Tabor College education. The activities in this course align perfectly with the mission and core values of Tabor College—to prepare people for a life of learning, work and service for Christ and His kingdom.”