When Belinda graduated from Biola University in 1994, she already had developed her passion for learning about other cultures. She chose to continue her intercultural education at Biola’s SICS because of the hands-on learning opportunities as well as the diverse and Christ-centered community it provided.
“Students are from all different cultural backgrounds…I don’t think you can really state how wonderful it is to be in a class with everybody who has one mind, that they want to use teaching to reach other cultures for His glory. So, it creates a family as you go through the classes.”
The community of SICS is central to effective learning, especially when it comes to other cultures. One thing that makes the TESOL program so practical at Biola, is the relationships that students build, with each other, and with their professors. Sharing experiences about different cultures, languages and ministry opportunities offers a unique learning environment. And, because the professors have their own personal on-going missions work, they are practicing their expertise both in and out of the classroom.
“When you have professors who are not only investing in your life, but they’re continuing to sharpen their own skills, it’s very motivating and encouraging and it was very inspiring for me.”
Belinda also participated in the school’s distance learning program, which allowed her to teach English overseas while earning her MA in TESOL at the same time. While the flexibility of this program enabled her to balance school, family, and ministry, it also allowed her the dynamic opportunity of applying what she was learning on a daily basis.
Today, Belinda and her husband are teaching English in Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia. After seven years overseas, they have seen the need for learning English continue to grow, which provides them the opportunity to teach more and more people every year.
“Learning English is really important here in Kazakhstan. Local people here are telling us ‘I need English’. It allows people here to compete for higher paying jobs if they know the language, and in today’s economic crisis, that’s a big thing. I’m just really glad that I have a tool that I can offer.”
Belinda is not just offering these people a chance to transform their lives…she’s also offering them a chance to transform their hearts. Though security around Christianity in Kazakhstan is high, Belinda is able to minster to her students through her teaching. Every day, Belinda helps others to not only learn English, but also learn about Christ’s unchanging, everlasting love – something so necessary to understand in an unstable economy and country such as Kazakhstan.
“Studying at Biola was very much worth the investment for me…The teachers and professors were excellent… The professors were very accessible and encouraging. They helped you tailor your studies to where you thought your skills and goals would take you. And, I’m proud to say I’m still in touch with my professors, ten years down the road.”