Story Magazine - Second Quarter, 2008

International Students Teach Others While Learning

by Laura Kaslow, Communication Specialist

Luther Seminary is honored to currently have 49 international students from 18 countries, representing nine faith communities. Members of the Luther Seminary faculty were recently asked what international students bring to the classroom. Their answers all lifted up international students for their strong faith, unique theological perspectives and scholarship.

Here are a few thoughts on what international students bring to the classroom.

A Unique Voice
Having an international student's point of view as part of theological discussions brings richness and depth to classroom discussions.

"I don't think we can genuinely hear the gospel without different voices around the table reading Scripture together. This is exactly how we experience Pentecost today. That is how important the presence of international students in class--and in the community--can be."
Richard Bliese, president

"Their theological perspectives in courses are unique and often powerful. Often, they don't jump into class discussions. When they have, it has often provided a new dimension that could only come from across the globe. I love sitting around an international table and enjoying the depth and richness of the discussion because of what they add."
Mary Sue Dreier, associate professor of Congregational Mission and Leadership

Working as Scholars and Teachers
International students are not only scholars, but they often are training to be educational leaders in their own countries. As part of this formal preparation, Ph.D. students work as teaching assistants.

"I (sought out my current teaching assistants, Lucy Mungai and Margaret Obaga, both from Kenya) because I was looking for the best students available who had wisdom, thoughtfulness, deep compassion and wide experience in pastoral care issues. I love that they bring substantive, basic understanding of being human, plus the important insights they bring from their own county. It is cross-cultural learning at its best."
Gary Wilkerson, adjunct instructor

"Lucy Mungai is a full participant in my teaching. She prepares materials to teach each week, adds her own perspective and interacts with the students in a variety of ways. She also enters into our class discussion spontaneously and appropriately to add her perspective on pastoral care and aging from the African perspective (which is frequently less individualistic and more communally based). The students respect and treasure Lucy's contributions; she functions as a young scholar and pastoral care giver whom I respect and appreciate."
Janet Ramsey, associate professor of congregational care leadership

Spreading the Gospel
International students have a great love of the gospel of Christ, and their faith inspires faculty.

"The gospel is powerful and spreading all over the world. International students bear witness to these things. It's encouraging to all of us when we hear how the Spirit is working all over the world."
Richard Bliese

"International students help round out our perspectives by bringing to us life from around the globe--life usually in cultures not consumed by consumerism and often in social conditions where people live with threats of poverty, hunger, disease, danger, etc. far beyond our U.S. experiences (or comprehension!). Consequently, their faith is so alive and so rooted in Scripture. Faith is a day-to-day reality. And they have taught me so much about trusting in God, living in gratitude, praising God and proclaiming the message of Scripture straightforwardly."
Mary Sue Dreier

The international community is an important part of the culture at Luther Seminary. To regularly read international student and alum profiles, sign up for the Global Vision and Global Insight newsletters through the Global Mission Institute.