“England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Every other year, Corban professors Dr. Sam Baker and Dr. Colette Tennant lead an academic tour through Great Britain in May. The goal of this tour is to expose students to the ties between religion and culture so prevalent in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The main focus of the trip is on the history, art, literature, architecture, and culture than have spawned from the Protestant Reformation and has affected the course of Great Britain up to the modern day.
Junior Carly Eilers said, “It opened my eyes to fact that Great Britain, particularly England, holds its university students to a high standard of learning, especially in schools such as Oxford.”
For many students it is an eye-opening experience in the way a country and community operates differently from our own.
“You don’t have to learn a language! Also, the Queen is there. What other country has a queen who rocks yellow so well?” Sophomore Charis Dressel said. Many of this trip’s 14 students were first timers in foreign lands. With Britain being a country whose first language is English it is easier to assimilate and communicate across the cultural divisions.
As with many college age students who endeavor to leave behind the world they know, even for a short time, these experiences can truly impact a student as a person.
“I want to go live there now. If my career ever allowed me to live in Oxford, I’d be a thousand percent for it,” Dressel said. Students can even see ways in which they’d like to see their home country improve.
Eilers said, “I wouldn’t be mad if the state installed an underground train station throughout Oregon. Just saying.”
This tour also helps students in their academics and career. Most enroll in a 3-credit class in the spring prior to the trip and are able to earn half the credit in class and the other half on the trip itself.
Both Drs. Baker and Tennant pointed out that traveling abroad increases a student’s marketability, making them more employable.
“It gave us an advantage when it came to understanding the places we were traveling and the role that culture played in what we see in Great Britain today,” Eilers said.
The unique aspect of this academic tour is its emphasis on faith and history. Students get to experience many different kinds of Christian heritage in baptisms, the Anglican influences at Oxford, Presbyterian churches in Edinburgh and much more.
“I have a growing appreciation for those who came before me. Our faith is not our own. So many have gone before us and paved the way for truth to be known,” Dressel said. “It was a humbling experience. A reminder to keep my eyes heaven bound.”
Tennant recalls a time on their first trip where they took part in a church service that invited them to communion and everyone drank from the same cup and ate from the same loaf of bread. It opened up the worldview of many Western Evangelicals. And oftentimes there is confusion between Anglican traditions and Catholic practices. Baker and Tennant get to help sort these differences out.
“It is amazing for students to suddenly realize ‘Oh, God is this big’,” said Tennant. Both Baker and Tennant have seen students dissolved to tears at boy choirs and art museums.
“It was so encouraging to see the varying traditions and histories of Christian faith and worship, while recognizing the unity that comes from following the same Savior and learning from the same Bible,” Eilers said.
“It’s a ‘bucket-list’ kind of opportunity” reflected Baker.
Find Out More: Oxford Study Abroad for Corban University and CCCU Students
Author Natasha Wilson is an English major at Corban University.