International travel often changes who we are. It challenges us to consider new perspectives, helps us interact with those who are different from us, and leaves us with special memories of missed trains, delayed flights and new foods.
At the University of Mobile, travel is in our blood.
Travel is Tradition
It’s part of the University of Mobile experience, from the choir tours led by music professor Dr. Kenneth Bergdolt throughout the United States and Europe, to the international tours of this summer led by professors and students.
Ensembles from the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts in the Alabama School of the Arts traveled throughout the southeastern United States. RamCorps toured in France and New York City, and Voices of Mobile toured in England and Romania.
Students went to Israel with Professor of Humanities Ted Mashburn, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Students went to Paris with Associate Professor of French Barbara Brousseau.
Students backpacked in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe on Youth Hostel Missions (YHM).
Along the way, current University of Mobile students met alumni who are making their mark worldwide.
Surrounded by current students and a couple of alumni in Paris, France, Barbara Brousseau was reminded just how strong the UM community is.
“This trip reminded me and the students that there is value in community. To say, ‘I am a UM Ram’ means something. It opens doors. This community is genuine,” says Brousseau.
Even when you graduate, you are still a part of a deep-rooted community.
Katt Smith ’17 lived in Paris for two years and was in her final weeks in France when the UM group was touring. Smith attends and serves at Emmanuel International Church of Paris where Parker Windle ’04 is pastor. Brousseau also met up with Ember Langley ’15, who is in the process of moving to Paris. Lexi Kilsdonk ’19, just moved to Paris, as well. Brousseau is connecting these alumni to each other.
Smith spoke to the six students accompanying Brousseau about what it’s like to live abroad, the benefits and the challenges.
These students were reminded that living abroad isn’t a far-fetched dream, at least for University of Mobile students. Brousseau says, “Our alumni can end up anywhere on the planet.”
Dr. Lonnie Burnett, UM president and a member of the Class of 1979, believes that international travel is important.
“International travel exposes our students to diverse cultures. With the world increasingly moving to a global economy, such opportunities are invaluable,” Burnett says.
John Matheou, senior, traveled the United Kingdom and Ireland on YHM this summer. Reflecting on his trip, Matheou says, “In all, my perspective of the world has changed completely. I have a new sense of courage and boldness for the gospel, and I’m excited to take it back home. I have four new best friends from my University of Mobile Youth Hostel Missions team that I honestly never thought I would love as much as I do.”
As Mashburn walked the streets of Israel with the UM team, he was enriched by the students making connections between the scriptures and historical sites.
“These students will never forget seeing the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Olives, the Temple Mount and many more sites,” says Mashburn.
Mashburn traveled as a student himself and believes that travel is important to a student’s education. Travel even encouraged Mashburn to teach. As a student, he traveled to England, Austria and Italy. The summer of his senior year was especially transformative, as a he worked in Liberia and West Africa.
“Travel might just be the best form of education. Why? Because when one experiences something personally, one never forgets. Travel made me a better student, better Christian and a better person,” says Mashburn.
Jess Strenth ’19 traveled to England and Romania with the Voices of Mobile and also came back home with a renewed passion to share the gospel.
“I am reminded that across the globe we serve One King. The story is the same in over 6,000 languages. His image is the same in over 8 billion people. And we all have the same calling – to share the gospel with all,” says Strenth.
Thomas Rawls, senior, was among 29 students who went on the RamCorps trip to France. He says it was great to spend time with bands from different countries and experience different cultures.
Rawls says, “It was incredible to get to share the differences in our upbringing and societies, all the while focusing the conversations on my relationship with God and how He has changed my life.”
At the University of Mobile we are distinctively driven – driven to expose our students to the world, different cultures, new experiences and endless possibilities to live out their Great Commission calling anywhere in the world.