Throughout ORU’s campus international flags brighten up offices and dorm rooms, conversations take place in many languages, mission opportunities are promoted and cultural events draw students in with unique music and food.
Since ORU has made reaching the nations a top priority, the university now has a centralized base of operation working to help expand international opportunities for students. This semester ORU President William M. Wilson introduced the new Office of Global Service (OGS), a new department to help students incorporate intercultural experiences into their academic journey.
“One thing that makes ORU truly unique is its incredible emphasis on the nations, and I strongly believe that it’s biblical,” said Dr. Kevin Schneider, executive director of the OGS.
President Wilson came to Schneider about creating a single office to help further the globalization efforts of the university. OGS is under the Provost, and includes the International Student Center, the Healing Teams program and Study Abroad programs. It also serves to help other departments develop academic mission trips, assist with local partnerships and promote an intercultural experience for students.
Prior to the addition of OGS, students wishing to study abroad typically went to the English and Modern Languages department.
Within the small study abroad office found in the department, faculty would assist students in finding an organization or university program in which to enroll. However, most of these focused on studying languages. So if students wanted their trips to reflect their major, they either had to find a trip on their own or join a Healing Team (a missions team made up of many different majors in order to empower underdeveloped communities all over the world.)
Under OGS, the first study abroad program sent seven students to Paris. “[Students will] have opportunities to study in different places, which has a bit more of the ORU DNA, missional feel to it,” said Schneider.
The International Student Center will be a day-to-day access point for students to get involved in these programs, as well as continuing to support international students on campus.
The OGS team includes Schneider, former business professor and Healing Teams coordinator; Jessica Tenorio, director of the International Student Center; Victor Ekwere, the coordinator of the International Student Center; and Sam Kyle, 2017 alumnus and Head Missions Coordinator and now Dr. Schneider’s administrative assistant. Adam Giedd, a President’s Scholar, has also laid the groundwork for ORU’s Paris study abroad program, even traveling with Schneider.
While Schneider found it “difficult to leave the classroom” his new role fits his other passions well. “For me, the reason I am at ORU is the vision to send students to the nations. This office sits right in the heart of that global vision,” said Schneider. “My encouragement would be that every student on campus would catch God’s heart and his passion for the nations. And there’s opportunities here to get to know international students, to get to know students from other cultures here on campus, and there’s so many opportunities whether it’s going on a mission trip, or healing team, or studying abroad, to catch God’s heart for the nations.”