Some of us are world travelers – whether we grew up jumping from one country to another or chose a lifestyle that’s taken us to places we never imagined. Some of us have never left home or even been on a plane. But there’s always room for celebrating and learning from different cultures; in fact, “Be International” is one of YWAM’s foundational values! Today we want to do just that by introducing you to our international students.
Kean was born in South Africa and has lived in six different places since he was eight years old, including Finland, Belarus and Kansas. His family currently lives in Ohio, but “I’m from South Africa” is his answer when asked. Kean loves nature, so it’s no surprise that some of his hobbies include camping, fishing, and hunting.
What is something that is different here than in South Africa?
“In South Africa they love conversations, they are very social. When I first got here I noticed that people tend to spend more time on their phones rather than face-to-face talk, they even look at their screens in the middle of a conversation. I learned that it’s not considered rude to do that here, although back home it would be.”
Our friend Tati is 22 years old and grew up in Rio, Brazil. Her interests range from painting and playing music to going to the beach and hanging out with friends. She loves architecture and started studying it at university.
What do you miss the most from Brazil?
“I come from a warm culture, which means that kisses on the cheek as a greeting and hugs are pretty normal. That’s how I relate to my friends, my family, and even people I just met; it doesn’t matter if they are guys or girls. I know that it would be weird if I did it here, but honestly, I really miss it!”
Sam is from India. His sister Abigail did a YWAM DTS with us last fall and now it’s Sam’s turn to join the adventure. He’s a pretty artsy guy, enjoying music, photography, and art. We’ve heard he also loves playing Jenga.
What is something you love about your culture?
“Their hospitality; they give you their best. Whenever they offer something and you say no, they will insist a few more times to make sure you really don’t want it. They value and honor relationships through that.”
If you ask Richie where he is from, Canada would be his answer, but although he was born there he has lived in eight different countries. His family worked in the oil industry, which has taken him to the Netherlands, Scotland, India, USA, Canada, Australia, Nicaragua, and Saudi Arabia. Richie says, “Home is where I am, where my family is.”
How would you describe some of these countries and cultures you’ve lived in?
“Well, the Dutch are brutally honest; they are not afraid to speak their mind. Nicaragua’s people are peaceful and their country is gorgeous. India is a sensory overload! There is always something going on. The Scottish are incredibly friendly, and we Canadians are always apologizing for everything.”
Sofia is from Armenia, Colombia and has come back to YWAM Louisville to be part of our SOMD. She loves getting to know people and is passionate about helping others to see who they are in Christ. When she has free time you can find her doodling, writting and decorating Bible verses and playing the piano.
If we came to visit you, where would you take us?
“There is a coffee shop in the mountains called Cafe San Antonio, that’s where I could take you. The views are beautiful, the inside is modern, and the coffee is delicious.”
The name of Mathilde’s hometown is hard to pronounce: “Benthuizen” in the south of the Netherlands. She is a long way from home, but a YWAM DTS brought her to Louisville, Kentucky and we are so glad it did! Mathilde loves hanging out with friends,reading, and volunteering.
What is something that you like about this culture?
“People here are very open and friendly. The other day I was sitting at the picnic tables after church and a lady came to talk to me. She was very inviting and welcoming, and before leaving she asked if she could pray for me. Those kind of things never happen where I come from.”
These students carry with them stories of far-away countries and the beauty of their cultures. We are called to make disciples of all nations, but sometimes God brings the nations to us and we have the privilege of walking alongside them in their discovery of a new country and culture. Here in DTS, the greatest discovery is of a God whose heart knows no frontiers, language barriers, or cultural limitations, a God whose flag is His love.