Study Abroad Alumni News

Katie Carlson-Wagner - Rwanda, GoEd - Fall 2017

katiewagnerMy current home is in Vancouver, Canada. We are in Vancouver because my husband Evan is continuing his PhD in particle physics through the University of Victoria, stationed at TRIUMF. We recently returned to North America after a year and half of living near Geneva, Switzerland in a little town called Saint Genis-Pouilly, France. We lived in France/Switzerland from January 2020 to June 2021 and during our time there both my husband and I worked at CERN, the large hadron collider located in Geneva, Switzerland. Evan was the first to receive an invitation to work at CERN as his masters degree and his PhD are connected to the ATLAS experiment there. As CERN is a massive international organization, many of the technicians who normally come from other countries were unable to travel during the 2020 COVID outbreak and therefore, the ATLAS experiment was left understaffed. Therefore, I was asked to step in as a Junior Technician to help with the ATLAS detector upgrade. Along with work, we were also given a few chances to play and traveled to Barcelona, Spain, Lisbon and Porto, Portugal, Nice, France and multiple places throughout Switzerland while we were in Europe. 

My study abroad experience in Kigali, Rwanda in 2017 sparked a realization in my soul about the value and the power of living out of my comfort zone and I have continued to find that to be true as I spend even longer away from home. So thank you George Fox Study Abroad for supporting me as I took a step outside my comfort zone that changed my life forever!

Maya Burgess - Seville, Veritas - Fall 2019

emma burgess
When studying at George Fox University, I spent a summer in Panama and a semester abroad in Spain. Through these two very different experiences, I fell in love with Spanish culture - so much so that I moved to Honduras after graduating! I got a job as a High School Literature Teacher in a bilingual, Christian school. I honestly couldn't have found a more fitting job for me! This job was fitting for me because of the experiences that shaped me at George Fox. I studied International Studies and Politics. Through these studies, I grew in my love of different cultures. Through the George Fox Honors Program, I realized how much I love learning through reading which is now how I teach. Living in Spanish speaking countries and taking Spanish classes helped develop my Spanish fluency. On top of that, almost all my close friends studied abroad in Spanish speaking countries; therefore, when we came back from living abroad we kept up our Spanish by having dinners where we made Spanish food and only talked in Spanish. Finally, through studying abroad, I realized how much I love not just learning about different cultures, but being immersed in them.
Many experiences at Fox helped me get to where I am today. However, studying abroad helped tangibly equip me for living abroad. You can talk all you want about different cultures, but it is not until you actually adventure out do you learn. I learned I love seeing new places and meeting new people. However, once you have been in a place for a while, the newness wears off. The new becomes normal. That is when I truly start loving a place - once I feel comfortable. Comfort takes time though. I learned the adventure starts when things go wrong and you have to leave your comfort zone. But through these trials, you grow. That is why I wanted to move abroad again - I wanted to be challenged to grow and pour into new people and places. 
I currently live in Yamaranguila, Honduras. It is a small mountain town that loses power quite frequently and the water shuts off at 7pm daily. Drinking water is hauled in by 5 gallon jugs and hand-washing clothes is the norm. The sunsets here are beautiful and the community of people even more so. I have grown to really love the students I teach, my co-workers, neighbors, and church community. Not only do I teach high school language, but I also help my students prepare for college by extra tutoring and test prep. Another big part of working at a Christian school is helping with the spiritual development of our students; therefore, we have a daily devotional before class, and I often hangout with my students outside of school, whether that is going for a walk or playing soccer. I realize the longer I stay here, the harder it might be to leave. For now, I am here indefinitely, and have truly found such joy in my little way of mountain life. It has been beautiful to see how God has been moving little by little, poco a poco, throughout the years and even now.

Mckenna (Martin) Tillotson - Rome, Veritas - Spring 2016

mckennamartintillotsonItaly has been a love of ours for many years. It all started with a passion for history and after visiting, this passion grew into so much more. As we got older this passion never changed. God turned our love for the culture and people into a calling to serve in relationship with him.
As we wrestled with the conversation of why Italy, we learned more and more about the spiritual darkness that is very relevant across Europe. We learned that cultures being raised with the idea of God are lacking the Gospel, and a real relationship with Jesus Christ. In talking with those involved in ministry in Europe our hearts ached for the people of Italy, and knew God's voice was ringing clear as he called us to go and spread his word.
We are so excited to be joining a church plant in Forlì Italy, a small city just below Bologna, that was started nearly two decades ago. We will be serving and building relationships in the community in a number of ways: teaching English through the church (this will be to young kids, high school and university students, as well as, adults), helping at summer camps, and starting small groups with the local high school and university students. God has placed on our hearts a strong desire for relationships with the Italian youth.