Summer 2022
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Reflections on Juniors Abroad

President Robin Baker

Many years ago, George Fox launched a new program called Juniors Abroad. Back in the late ’80s the idea of traveling abroad for three weeks with a faculty mentor was something students immediately embraced, as they do to this day.

Over the years, I have taken part in six trips with students. Some may wonder why a president would spend time on a student trip. We certainly aren’t traveling in style, our hotels are modest, and we use our legs and public transportation to move in the cities we visit. The answer is quite simple: I get to know students intimately over three weeks. We live and travel from place to place together. We learn each other’s stories, play together and worship together. Students and faculty become known to each other on Juniors Abroad – even the president.

This May, I took part in a trip through Ireland and the United Kingdom. What did I learn about our students? First, they are genuinely good people. They listened well and engaged in thoughtful conversation with each other and the people we met. Second, they were willing to explore – to do and try things that they had never done before.

Finally, we often hear how this generation is leaving both the church and the Christian faith. That may be true in some broader sense, but it was not true of the students who traveled with us. They embraced different worship experiences and found God in new circumstances. They were open to learning and risk in ways that I find uncomfortable. I did not grow up in an expressive religious tradition and several of the churches we went to, although Anglican, bordered on a Pentecostal experience. Pastors invited us to open our hands to receive a blessing or to raise our hands to acknowledge the power of God. Students embraced these calls far easier than I did. It was clear that they loved the Lord and cared deeply about what God was calling them to do.

At George Fox, we come to work every day to build a university that knows its students and teaches them about Christ and his kingdom. In order to accomplish this, we need to know them and to also understand how God is working in their lives. Faculty get to do this every day in their academic programs. Juniors Abroad allows us to enter into the lives of students even more deeply by living, worshipping and discovering together.

I hope you enjoy the stories of faith transformation presented in this issue of the George Fox Journal. Whether it’s a three-week study abroad trip or a simple interaction on the quad, it’s a privilege to get to know students, to enter into their stories, and to see them become the people God meant them to be.

Robin Baker

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Summer 2022 Cover

Cover of Summer 2022 issue

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