Bluffton students share cross-cultural experiences

BLUFFTON — Bluffton University students who participated in short-term cross-cultural experiences last spring spoke during Forum in Yoder Recital Hall. Students who traveled to the Czech Republic, the Southwest Native Nations, and Washington, D.C., spoke during the morning session while students who explored Guatemala, Kentucky, Korea and South Texas spoke in the evening.

Darius Boeke shared his experiences about his trip to the Navajo Nation.

“I think outside of it being an educational requirement, I think we have the opportunity to really be involved with people that aren’t like us to the eye view,” he said. “But then getting to know these people, we really realized that these people were just like us. They just want the freedom, they want their ability; they want their homes. They want everything that they have to themselves. I think that’s my biggest takeaway, realizing that those people are just like us. I think we look at those people as being outsiders when really they’re just like us and we should accept them more than we do.”

The Navajo Nation is the largest land area held by a Native American tribe in the U.S. It is one of a few indigenous nations whose reservation lands overlap its traditional homelands. The Nation’s median cash household income is around $20,000 per year. However, using federal standards, unemployment levels fluctuate between 40 and 45%. About 40% of families live below the federal poverty rate.

A second member of the team that experienced the Navajo Nation, Nathan de Weese shared, “It’s one thing to read a book and learn about it in the classroom. It’s a whole different thing to actually experience what these people go through every day. To see what they’re going through and what they’re lacking. It really just shows a perspective of we need to do more in general and books need to change and action needs to be taken.”

Director of cross-cultural programs Paul Neufeld Weaver explained the program at Bluffton University.

“It is a requirement for all of our students which is a bit unusual,” he said. “But we believe overall that to be an educated person prepared for the world of work and life in the 21st century, you need to have competence in relating to people who come from other backgrounds than your own. This is a way we pursue that competence.”

Most Bluffton undergraduate students participate in a three-week cross-cultural experience led by Bluffton faculty and staff. However, semester-long and alternative programs are also available to students. BCA Study Abroad partners with Bluffton to give students more options for discovery through cross-cultural experiences.

Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409.

Dean Brown joined The Lima News in 2022 as a reporter. Prior to The Lima News, Brown was an English teacher in Allen County for 38 years, with stops at Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville and Heir Force Community School. So they figured he could throw a few sentences together about education and business in the area. An award-winning photographer, Brown likes watching old black and white movies, his dog, his wife and kids, and the four grandkids - not necessarily in that order. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0409.