Missions work in Santa Cruz, Bolivia
I am serving in the SALT (Serving and Learning Together) program with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). I am a Low German program worker in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. There are around 50,000 Low German speaking Old Colony Mennonites (slightly similar to the Amish) in Bolivia, and I work in Centro Menno, which provides resources such as visa application assistance, a library, and a store. I manage the library and write articles for our periodical, the Menno Bote.
How did your History study at Calvin prepared you for what you are doing now?
Studying history at Calvin taught me to think critically by looking at all available information before making decisions or trying to understand an event, experience, or culture. This is so useful because my work and life experiences are very cross-cultural. I am living with a Bolivian family, learning their customs, language (Spanish), and Bolivian cultural and political issues. For work, I am learning Low German and the customs and traditions of conservative Old Colony Mennonites. I keep remembering Professor Tibebe Eshete’s favorite all-encompassing word for history - “encounters.” I see and experience these differing culture encounters every day at home, on the street, and at work.
Do you have any advice to give students thinking of getting a History degree to prepare themselves to go into missions?
I would encourage anyone interested in service or missions to take cultural/social history classes along with history courses that are about the region where she/he may want to live to better understand the context and the people he/she will serve.