Heather Snavely has travelled the world. She first discovered her passion to learn about other cultures while studying abroad in Egypt. Following that, she was able to travel to China and teach English for the summer. After facing the challenges of teaching in an unfamiliar culture, she decided to pursue her masters at Cook School of Intercultural Studies.
“[One] thing that I liked about what ICS offered was it didn’t specialize in any particular region in the world, it was more of a general education that I would be able to use no matter where I went, because there are many areas of the world that I’m interested in going to, and this gave me overall training.”
After finishing her M.A. in Intercultural Studies, Heather travelled to Vietnam to teach English. While she felt trained to interact cross-culturally, she couldn’t help but feel she could be even more equipped to teach English. She decided to return to Cook School of Intercultural Studies and complete a degree in TESOL as well.
“I see teaching English as a second language as a ministry because it helps me to help others. And I think that Christ wants us to help others pursue their dreams for a better life. And if we are not meeting their physical needs and only their spiritual needs, I don’t think that that is Biblical. I think we need to meet both needs, spiritual and physical. And one way that I can make an impact on my students is by helping them with their need for English.”
It was no question that the supportive community at Biola influenced Heather’s decision to stay in school for both of her masters degrees. Heather knew what it was like to travel around the world, and Cook School of Intercultural Studies provided her a glimpse of the globe right in the classroom.
“One of the things I really enjoyed here at Cook was the people that I met in my degree program. I had friends from all over the world; I had friends from different areas of the United States and we really got to know each other well. I had a great roommate while I was here; she was also an Intercultural Studies major. We stuck together. The program can be demanding and we helped each other out. It really was a community, I’m far away from home and my friends that I met here at Cook really became my family and I still consider them family today.”
The professors were an inspiring part of that community as well. Heather was able to share about her time overseas and find that her professors could relate to her experiences. Not only did Heather find a common bond with her professors in their passion for world outreach, but she was also motivated by them, applying what she learned in the classroom directly to her work.
“I really enjoyed the professors that I had here at Cook. I thought that they treated me as a colleague and not as just a student and I really liked that. I noticed that difference right away when I came to Cook. They were very friendly, very easy to joke around with, but they were experts in what they talked about. Most of them had spent time overseas and so they could personally relate to what they were teaching about and they could also give me insight as I was making a decision about where I wanted to work.”
Today, Heather is a full-time faculty member of the American Language Program at a local university. She is able to meet and teach English as a Second Language to students from around the world everyday, sharing with them the skills she acquired at Cook as well as her heart for impacting the world, wherever you are.
“[To me,] the Great Commission means that no matter where I’m at, whether it’s here in the United States or it’s in some other country, I am sharing the gospel through my actions and through what I say. Originally, I thought I would spend a good part of my life overseas. Right now, I’m here in the United States teaching [ESL] at a local university, but I’m working with international students and just in my actions and reactions to them I think is a way of sharing the Great Commission with my students.”