World-travel was on the hearts and minds of many AU students who embarked on Tri-S trips over the summer. Students traveled to different countries to serve communities and immerse themselves in other cultures.
The Tri-S (Study, Serve, Share) program offers AU students the unique opportunity to travel to other countries for a reasonable price. Trips vary from cultural immersion experiences to medical and VBS missions to backpacking excursions.
Among AU students’ destinations this summer were London, Germany, Australia, Peru, Grand Cayman, Uganda, Romania/Hungary and Ireland.
Senior visual communication design major Emily Badger participated in the London VBS trip led by Dave and Stefanie Leiter, which embarked at the beginning of August. Badger was encouraged to sign up for the trip by her roommate’s enthusiasm about Tri-S. For her, working with children in another country was an unforgettable experience that allowed her to build relationships with people of another culture.
“I made valuable friendships with some of the kids I worked with during VBS,” Badger said. “I will never forget the people I met because they left such a lasting impression on me.”
In their free time, the group of six VBS volunteers also found time to visit famous landmarks in the London area and explore the countryside of England.
“I’d have to say that one of my favorite days was the trip we took as a group to Stonehenge, Bath, Lacock and Windsor Castle,” said Badger. “Four really cool places packed into one day was definitely a whirlwind!”
Another group of eight AU students embarked on a trip to the Amazon region of Peru, where they offered medical assistance for and served Peruvians in conjunction with the mission organization GO International.
Senior Chemistry major Daniel Pollard was inspired to participate in the trip after a conversation with Chemistry professor and trip leader Dr. Chad Wallace, who told him about the opportunity to serve people of another culture and language. For Pollard, the most memorable part of his trip was witnessing the connection between different cultures.
“We ministered to people who didn’t know Spanish, so communication went from English to Spanish to Shawi,” said Pollard. “I had never before seen more than one translation in person.”
Students on the Peru trip traveled with doctors and nurses to provide outpatient medical and dental care to those living in remote villages. They assisted in offering medical examinations to Peruvians who live without immediate access to health care, while also ministering to them and experiencing their culture. Pollard was moved by the worship services led by the Peruvians in the Alfonso Ugarte District.
“It was eye-opening to see the different ways they conducted their services,” said Pollard. He was also particularly inspired by the spiritual aspect of the trip and the relationships he forged through conversations with the trip leaders.
“My favorite memory was a spiritual discussion that I had with one of the GO International team leaders, Larry Montgomery,” said Pollard.
Hilary Hughel, administrative assistant of Tri-S and study abroad, and Michael Thigpen, director of the cultural resource center, led a group of six on a trip to Grand Cayman. Students were able to immerse themselves in the Culture of Grand Cayman, swimming with sting rays and volunteering to teach children at a VBS.
Some students experienced trips specifically related to their majors, such as the English Department’s trip to London. English majors visited the famous address of Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare’s home, King’s Cross Station, Ambleside and other places related to classic literary authors and stories.
Tri-S also allowed students to reconnect and learn from AU graduates who live overseas. Those who participated in the trip to Germany had the opportunity to visit Audrey Weiger, an AU graduate who helped to found The Pink Door, a non-profit organization for victims of human trafficking in Berlin. The students were invited into her home to ask questions and learn about the organization and the issue of human trafficking in Germany.
Jake Mills, a senior history major who participated in the Germany trip, found the experience to be enlightening.
“It was inspiring to hear about Weiger’s mission and about a part of Berlin that an average tourist probably wouldn’t get to hear,” said Mills.
Students still have the opportunity to sign up for Tri-S trips to various countries for winter, spring and summer terms. Destinations available to sign up for include Trinidad, Iceland, Spain, Ireland and South Africa, among many others. A full list of available trips for the upcoming year can be found online at the AU website under the Tri-S tab or at the Tri-S Office.