Being a university student with a multi-cultural background, I know how difficult it can be to move to another country and integrate your culture into a completely new one. After I came back from the Global Projects Malawi mission trip in the summer of 2016, I was seeking a tangible way that I could contribute and make a difference in society. In October 2016, the founder of the Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign, Jordan Koslowsky shared his passion for refugee settlement and his desire to make an impact in our university and surrounding community. I immediately realized that this opportunity must be acted upon.
One of my dreams as a child was to travel around the world and meet people of different nationalities. I have lived in many different countries in the past, such as New Zealand, Japan and Canada. Throughout the process, I learned what it meant to accept cultural values and respect those of others, even though our backgrounds may differ. My parents have been consistently supporting my decision to study abroad, and I am intentional in not forgetting the foundation from whence I came. By recognizing my own background and how I can use my unique personal perspective, I can better help those who are in need.
I decided to come to TWU out of complete curiosity as well as a desire to satiate my adventurous mind. Soon after, I joined with a group of students who were leaving for Africa to work with a non-profit organization focused on health care in Malawi.
This mission trip provided the opportunity to learn about peoples medical and spiritual needs. Our focus was on establishing personal relationships with the locals. That way, we could build a bridge to communicate about who God is and, through clinical work, show compassion and care for the locals. We were privileged to participate in morning devotions and have opportunities to share the Word of God. I was appointed to share about my story and the Word of God with the clinic members. This experience caused me to think deeply about why I follow Christ. During the process of devotion preparation, I learned about two major themes in Malawi: unity and transformation through hope. I was blessed to observe the continuous overflowing of God’s love throughout this trip. Working at clinic gave me opportunities to see the miracle and the value of life. We delivered a few babies. We experienced cases where we could not do anything to help the patients. Our team worked together in many areas: laboratory work including CD4 and mRDT (malaria rapid diagnostic test) gram staining, vaccination, working at pharmacy, dispensing drugs, and memorizing the drugs needed for certain patient symptoms. With a clinical officer (the equivalent of doctor in Malawi), we listened to patient symptoms and diagnosed diseases together. This broadened my perspective on how doctors sincerely care for the local people.
One of the most significant things that I learned while in Malawi was that I need to be transformed by God into his image. The term ‘transformation’ does not just mean that I need to change. Transformation means that God provides hope for our world, and with that hope we need to be constantly shaped into the new image. We are called to make difference in the world through God’s hope, and we cannot without transformation. We are called to be “salt and light” in the world.
Now how can I translate this hope in a practical way? After the Malawi trip, I was exploring number of options to get involved with a local non-profit organization. In August 2016, I watched this shocking video online of a Syrian boy in an ambulance from Aleppo. The boy was covered with dust and brutally injured in a rebel district airstrike. After doing some research, I found out that this boy, Omran Daqneesh, was only five years old. I imagined that there were many more children who were seriously injured and who had lost their family for no reason. This caused me to deeply consider if there was any way that I could respond in help.
When I first heard Jordan talk about his interest about refugee involvement and how he wanted to create a campaign at our university, I thought “This is it.” It is amazing that how the Lord provides these opportunities. As I discussed some ideas with Jordan, I heard that he wanted to sponsor a family, unify students and community, and respond to this refugee crisis. As I study business at the university, it is my role in TRAC to provide business plans for partner organizations, organize resources for our team, hold business meetings, and create spreadsheets.
It has been three months since we formed our team, and I am very much looking forward to seeing where the Lord will take us and our vision. I appreciate all the people we have met who offered advice and encouragement. This campaign would not be possible without the support and knowledge that has been given to us.
Even in the midst of brutality and suffering, there is still hope. We can make an impact in our society. We cannot ignore the needs of others because they are far away or out of sight. We need to stand up together to make positive changes. My hope is that with TRAC, and continuing with my degree, I can provide compassionate support in order to transform together with the hope we have.