Westmont Magazine Adventures Around the World
As he boarded a plane for China, Josh Caruana ’99 knew something unique was about to begin. He and the 40 other participants in the pilot “Westmont in Asia” program embarked on an incredible experience last summer—as did numerous other Westmont students who roamed abroad. Whether traveling throughout Asia or serving with Care Corps’ eight- member Bosnia/ Croatia team, students returned with a new global perspective.
Sonja Mortenson ’00, a religious studies major, learned more than she expected during nine weeks in Asia. “The trip taught me about myself, my future goals, my current limitations, and who I want to be,” she explains.
Mortenson was not the only student to leave Asia with expanded horizons. Lindsay Charlton ’00 adds, “The program has given me a broader and more complete sense of international issues and what is really occurring in the world today. I not only left Asia with renewed self-confidence and a stronger world vision, but with a new Asian family networked across the continent.”
Three Westmont business professors led the trek through China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan. Three weeks of intense study preceded month-long internships with companies based in Tianjin, China.
“Students gained a vast amount of knowledge in Chinese business, international business and relations, marketing/advertising, infrastructure, and the political and economic sphere of influence in China,” says Caruana.
As a part of the Care Corps organization (founded by Westmont parent Dr. James Witty), eight students summered in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, working with the evangelical church, and in Croatia serving as camp counselors. “Every time you walked down the street and saw the destruction, you knew something big had happened,” recalls Amy Brown ’99. “But people have moved on with their lives. They go to work, go shopping, have friends over. Life is normal.”
Yet each of the students had to confront the enormity of the physical and spiritual hardship suffered in these countries—and their own limited means to remedy the pain of others. But Matt Lingo ’99 says, “I began to see hope where I failed to see any last year. When you try to remedy every ill and solve every kid’s life, you find it’s an impossible challenge. Instead, we must hand them hope in Christ; through Him all else seems to fade away.”
The students don’t miss living in small tents, taking outdoor showers, and eating Croatian camp food (all in 110-degree weather), but they don’t regret a moment. Lingo explains: “The time spent with the campers, while grueling and often lacking in tangible rewards, forced many kids to think about Jesus Christ and the meaning of their lives, probably for the first time.”
Students who traveled last summer grew through their experiences. “Character is almost always tested not in the easy times, but in those that require every last ounce of our energy to persevere,” observes Caruana. “Then we discover who we are and who we want to become.”