PLAINVIEW — When Katie Trimble signed on to serve as a Baptist Student Ministries intern at Wayland Baptist University, she anticipated a special year. What she didn’t expect is that she would get to “see the world” without ever leaving Plainview.
Trimble, who graduated from Wayland last year, stayed on at her alma mater as a volunteer with Go Now Missions through the Baptist General Convention of Texas. And during the one-year term, she’s confirmed her call to minister to college students — with a bit of a twist.
“While we were planning this year, we decided that one big part of my job would be to work with international students, which we really hadn’t done much of before,” Trimble said. “We got lots of ideas from other campuses about what they do and just sort of started from scratch.
“We wanted to focus on this because it wasn’t a big focus anyone else was doing. We just wanted them to know that we were here for them if they needed anything.”
BSM leadership students and Trimble made themselves available to international students for rides to the grocery store, help with doctor visits and other day-to-day needs.
“We forget sometimes that many of them don’t have cars or don’t know the lingo here as much as we do,” she said. “They just sometimes need a hand.”
Trimble began the year making contact with all the international students on campus — many of them connected to Wayland’s athletic programs—and beginning a series of monthly dinner nights where students shared dishes from their home countries.
That effort proved a success from the standpoint of just getting to know the students and letting them share a piece of their own heritage, instead of just acclimating them to American traditions, Trimble said. About two-dozen students regularly participated.
“I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much,” she said. “The students are good cooks and really enjoy sharing their culture.”
In October, the BSM took 12 students to the Wayland cabin in Glorieta, N.M., for a long weekend retreat to relax and enjoy the mountains. Similar BSM programs from Texas Tech and West Texas A&M joined them at the retreat; so, the internationals got to visit with peers from nearby schools.
The year-long outreach effort culminated recently in a trip to Austin and San Antonio, where about a dozen students enjoyed sightseeing at the state capitol and Sixth Street and had fun at Sea World and a San Antonio Spurs basketball game.
“We wanted to give them a chance to see more of Texas and experience our culture as well,” said Trimble, who noted a marked difference in the relationships between internationals from the start of the school year.
The students said the experience was enjoyable, and they got a glimpse of a new world in a different part of Texas.
“I loved it. It was cool to get of town and see the sights,” said Anika Voigt, a sophomore from Potsdam, Germany, who plays on the Wayland Pioneers volleyball team. “My favorite part was Sea World and the Riverwalk. It was very pretty there, and I was surprised at how pretty San Antonio is. It reminds me more of home with more trees and water.”
Voigt and Marcos Chenthitta, a senior from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, said they enjoyed the educational aspects of the trip as well, even though it was during a break from school.
“The capitol in Austin was very pretty, and we learned a lot about the state and the city of Austin. We got to learn on this trip too,” said Chenthitta, who is studying business.
Latanya Nation, a sophomore from Jamaica, enjoyed the chance to see another side of Austin besides the place where she’s competed as part of the track and field team.
“I enjoyed every moment of the trip,” Nation said, including the van ride there. “I enjoyed the capitol building, and we got to see the old stuff and the historical things, and learned a lot that we didn’t know. I really enjoyed the rides at Sea World, too, and the shows and animal exhibits.”
Her first time on a rollercoaster admittedly was scary at first, but Nation said the trip was a great getaway for her and other international students.
“We got to know Katie better, so that was good too,” Voigt said. “We are pretty far away from home, but we’re just like the other kids.”
That sentiment sums up the reason the BSM set its goal to reach out to internationals, Trimble said. And while the students may have benefited from new friends, new experiences and helping hands, Trimble said she’s grown herself from the yearlong ministry.
“It’s been awesome for me. I was nervous about what to do or how it would work out,” she said. “But it’s been so good just to get to know them and see them come to trust us as friends. I see things with a whole new view of the world.”
While conversations about faith are a natural part of the process at a Baptist university, Trimble said just reaching out to students with unique needs has been the first priority.
“They are open to talk about religion and what they believe,” she said. “We really want to just love them and show them Christ’s love.”
Trimble will accompany students on a mission trip to England this summer to close out her time with Wayland. Students will be working with two churches, leading Bible schools for children specifically.
Trimble emphasized her internship experience has helped her discover her passion for ministry, and she believes college students are a group she’s called to serve. International students are also special to her as a ministry field—one she might not have discovered if not for this year’s experience.
Teresa Young is director of media relations at Wayland Baptist University.