Through Campus Ministry, eight Campbell students and one staff member took the initiative to travel to Pecs, Hungary to help high school students with their English and lead nightly worship. There is a large population of Roma people in Central and Eastern Europe. The Roma students attend the Gandhi School and have excelled in their English classes during the school year. As a reward, they work with English speaking students to hone their language skills.
Team leader Sara McCarthy organized the trip. Being the team leader entailed motivating the college group and orchestrating details like lesson plans for the Roma students.
"The most memorable lesson I came away with is that despite language barriers and differing cultures, the basics of people are the same," said McCarthy. "The Roma students fight with their parents, have relationship problems and sing their favorite songs-- just like all young adults do. They hunger for a higher power and search to make sense of their lives in the same ways American students do."
The Campbell students chose American music for their English lessons including country, beach, hip-hop and classic rock. They played music clips and taught three lessons a day. Elvis Presley was the unanimous favorite artist of the Roma students. At night, the Campbell students would lead worship and share their faith journey stories.
Terry Tucker who works in Campus Ministry went along for support.
"The students did an incredible job," she said. "The translator, who is an English teacher, was so impressed by their lessons she requested copies for her own use."
The group included Sara McCarthy, Tyler Owens, Michael Tyndall, Spence Evans, Antonio Spears, Jordan Bacon, Casey Waddell, Sarah Ratley and Terry Tucker. The ten day trip allowed some leisure time in Budapest and some exploration in Pecs, where they saw some of the earliest Christian graves.
"The best part of the trip for me took place on the very last morning with the students," said McCarthy. "Both groups (Roma and American) wept, hugged and smiled sadly, knowing they might never see each other again. Despite the tears, it was a testament to the relationships we had built with each other over a few short days. To me it said we accomplished our goal."
Many of the students have found each other on Facebook and are keeping in touch.
The students raised money to fund their way and would like to make this a yearly trip. All Campbell students are invited to participate.
"Leaving your own comfort zone is the best decision a college student can make," said McCarthy. "You learn a lot about yourself and those around you. Most importantly, you learn that there's more to life than what you grew up with. You begin to understand the world."
For more information concerning other mission trip opportunities, contact Terry Tucker at 910-893-1547.
Photo Copy: Campbell student Sarah Ratley, far right, works with Roma high school students in Pecs, Hungary.