Let Us Not Be Weary in Welcoming
by Marlene Bylenga, SCSBC International Education Coordinator ◊
Transitions. We all face them – changes in our job, moving, getting married, additions to our family or changing schools. Even though some changes can be positive, each of them has their own stresses. I am sure that if you took a moment to identify the times of change in your life you would have a flood of emotions, both happy and sad around those times. As Christians, we have the surety that our Father will be with us, but in order to grow we need to be willing to be shaped and changed through the process.
I just spent an afternoon with two new students from China. They are excited to be in Canada and are hopeful for the future. I am excited for them too, but I also know that the journey they face will be filled with happy experiences and disappointments. They will be challenged to adjust to new ways of living and thinking away from their parents and family. Thankfully, technology allows them to have regular contact with their families. However, their parents will not be able to totally understand the challenges they are facing because they are not physically present and living the experience with them.
I have been an International Student Coordinator for many years but somehow the arrival of these two boys has challenged and reminded me of the encouragement and prayer that they will need in their journey. The first few months will be difficult for them. I need to make a point of reassuring them that the anxiousness and nervousness they are feeling is normal and that the adjustment to a new way of living is difficult but with a positive attitude they will navigate through and be enriched by their experience. I need to encourage them to not be in a rush, to focus on the long-term, to take care of themselves by getting plenty of rest, exercise and eating well. I also need to tell them it is okay not to like all aspects of their new environment, but to do their best to remain positive.
I am not able do this all on my own. School staff and students all need to be encouraging, willing to welcome and enfold the newcomer and not growing weary in this important role. As I reflect, I am thankful that not one of us is totally responsible for the students in our care. We are educating and training them in community.
My prayer for all the students coming from overseas to our school is that they will not only experience success in their studies and school life but that they will meet Christ in a new and fresh way. I pray they will meet Him in their interactions with their teachers, fellow students, and administration and in their studies as they explore God’s hand in the creation. I also pray they will have the discernment to assess cultural differences and make wise choices, not throwing aside everything from their culture but taking the good from each culture.
Like me, I am sure that many of you have been awed by the responsibility of being a part of nurturing and caring for the students in your programs. May the Lord continue to give us an open and caring heart for each of His children put in our charge.