For one month during the summer of 2011, I was teaching English in the city of Lingwu in the province of Ningxia in north central China. Most Chinese children do not have the chance to act like middle school kids. They face immense pressure from a young age. We wanted our students to have the chance to learn English in a different environment. We wanted them to have fun, laugh, and get to know each other and us. The hope would be that through our teaching and example we could build enough of a relationship with them so they could tell that we were different or that later on in life, they would wonder what made us different. Our program looked at the acceptance of faith as a process with import in every encounter. This is one experience will continually be on my heart.
-Amy Patterson, China, 2011
A common issue plaguing many developing nations, whose main import is tourism, is sex/human trafficking. In Tanzania this is an issue that has been essentially ignored and denied. Only recently have the government and local churches taken it upon themselves to seek solutions to this growing problem. A good friend, Lauren, under an American organization Courage To Be You, and with the help of local Christian churches, has established a Courage House in a village two hours outside of Moshi. We were able to meet with some of the girls and pray with each one of them, one on one. This trip helped to shape my perspectives on poverty and the role of the church in developing nations.
-Kyle Howe, Tanzania, 2011
Serving in Panama was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The McNair trip provided me with many new experiences, like spending three weeks living in a Spanish-speaking country. The language and cultural differences were a tough adjustment at first, but being out of my comfort zone caused me to rely more on God and have faith. Through this experience, I learned that communication is more than words- you don't need to know the same language to make a difference. The children of Panama would smile and laugh with me as we played games; they showed me that it was possible to connect without words and to have faith like a child.
-Lauren Williamson, Panama, 2011
Volunteering in South Africa was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Through the excitement and frustrations of living in a foreign country, I gained many valuable lessons that I did not even realize I needed until I was put in certain situations that are only available in places like South Africa. I was incredibly nervous about being in a rural village, but in Manamani you truly become a part of the culture of the village. There is just something about Manamani that captures you, and once that happens, you instantly fall in love with the people and their laid-back, easy-going, but culturally rich lifestyle.
-Madei Levey, South Africa, 2009
Volunteering for a month in South Africa added a new dimension to who I am. While some things I experienced further emphasized the person I already was, other experiences pushed me out of my comfort zone and revealed to me new truths about who I am and who I want to be. While learning about the culture, lifestyles and worldviews of the people in Manamani Village, I learned things about myself.
-Allison Purves, South Africa, 2009
Every single day I try to figure out a way that I can go back to Bolivia. It was the most humbling and wonderful trip I have ever experienced. It wasn't until I left that I truly appreciated the warmth and love of all the people. I not only grew close to many locals, I was immersed in the culture, fell in love with the country and learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined.
-Katherine Negrotto, Bolivia, 2008
In the summer of 2008 I was lucky enough to be sponsored by the McNair Fund to spend six weeks interning at a Congolese non-profit in South Africa. I arrived weeks after a series of xenophobic attacks had stimulated a ripple of fear among the refugee community. The people I soon worked with had fled from their war-torn homes throughout central Africa (primarily from Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo) to find safety in Cape Town. These attacks morphed their new hometown into yet another place of fear. As an intern it was my job to run a camp for children of the refugee community. For the first time in my life I found myself the minority, oftentimes the lone person of my race or nationality in a room. Amidst post-apartheid South Africa I developed a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding discrimination and racial reconciliation, issues consistently pertinent in my Mississippi community.
-Brittany Tait, South Africa, 2008
For more information about the McNair Fund for Christian Missions, please contact the Chaplain by email or at 601-974-1200.