Matt Jones, Missionary to Thailand
All transitions are tricky. They represent the end of something old and familiar, and the beginning of something new and unknown. When facing transitions, you naturally experience a period of grief and mourning over the losses that now lie somewhere in your past. God has created us with an amazing and extensive spectrum of physical and emotional responses to the changes that take place in our lives. For instance, when you’re happy, you smile. When something is funny, you laugh. When you’re angry, you find something to throw at a cat. When you lose something or someone that you love, you grieve.
In that way, missionary kids are no different than other BJU students. When incoming freshmen arrive on campus, they naturally miss their beds, their mom’s cooking, their high school friends, and probably their dog. They probably even miss their annoying siblings, and even their dad sitting in his recliner snoring while watching football on Sunday afternoons. But I have some dramatic news for you, wait for it, here it comes: there are some MAJOR differences between MKs who come to BJU and other American kids who show up on campus for the first time.
Profound, huh? Think about this with me for a minute. What are some of the major differences between a typical BJU dorm student and a missionary kid who grew up in some remote corner of the world?
The MKs probably can’t go back home.
What else is different for MKs?
The MKs are learning two new cultures at once.
The first few weeks at BJU are fun to watch. In those initial days, students receive approximately 2 million details and pieces of information that they need to remember to be able to succeed. It’s essential to figure out “Can I get to Alumni 301 from the Fine Arts building in 4 minutes?” Or “Who am I going to go to lunch with today? Is there a bathroom somewhere in FMA? Why is the line at Chick-fil-A always so long, but Papa Johns’ is always empty? Do I really get demerits if I jump in the fountains? Why is that creepy guy in my freshman speech class trying to follow me on Instagram?” Figuring out the answers to these questions is a necessary ingredient in every student’s college experience. No matter where you grew up, you have to be concerned about more than just academics; you also have to learn Bob Jones University dorm student culture as well. That can be tricky!
It’s easy in the swarm of college life to forget that MKs aren’t just learning “BJU culture,” they’re also trying to learn “American culture” at the same time. What am I talking about?
So, what’s the point in writing all this? Well, MKs need to remember several important things about life in the States:
Students who grew up in the States but live among MKs on campus need to remember several important things as well:
“We know and are known by the telling of our stories.” -Michael Pollock
Missionary dad of four amazing MKs
2/1/2020 10:14:11 am
Great article with lots of great insight! As I look back at my college days I wished I would have reached out more to the MK's. We need to encourage our college kids to reach out to them!
2/2/2020 12:21:44 am
As I read this, my heart shuddered at moments especially since we will be facing this transition in the next few years. Great thoughts to consider
2/2/2020 02:12:40 am
This was practical and insightful. I hope to hear about the five transition stages.
2/2/2020 07:04:59 am
My undercover International children (MKs) and their friends from India have been very fortunate to make the transition to the US at BJU where people love the Lord. The administration, faculty, advisers and church families have been so supportive when I could not be there. The Lord and His people are our refuge and strength.
2/2/2020 06:04:45 pm
Appreciate this very much - thank you! Would love to know about the five transition stages as helpful insight to other aspects of life. Good information here that applies even to those who travel across an entire country to attend college. Can’t drive home on the weekends, and don’t know where they will go for Thanksgiving or Spring Break. Their new friends give them a strange look when they ask about things like a “honey bucket,” and Sunday morning church attire looks more to them like what they would wear to a formal event such as a wedding. Wonderful to remember that CHANGE IS HARD, but God is Faithful. ~ Seattle, Washington
2/9/2023 05:34:10 pm
Hello nice postt
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.