At IDEAS, we talk about leveraging our professional skills to restore hope in communities around the world. Three years ago, IDEAS introduced the short-term trip option that allows many professionals the opportunity to be involved in a small way towards the bigger picture. I just returned from East Asia where I saw love and hope at work in a short amount of time.
Our team worked with local partners in hosting a five-day camp for rural college students who are a part of a partnership program with sponsoring families in the US. Two of the sponsoring families were a part of our team along with others who serve in this program.
Having met these sponsored students three years ago, I was anxious to see how they had grown and changed. They had come from mountain villages and were settling into dorms. They were about to begin their studies to become rural primary school teachers. Most of them were shy and lacked confidence. They each had stories of hardship and poverty.
Over three years of college study, along with mentoring and character-building that this sponsorship program provides, these students have grown in incredible ways! They exude confidence, there are smiles and laughter. They care about each other.
We were so excited to see the students think deeply about issues concerning life, truth, love and eternal hope. Their joy spilled over to us as we built each other up, sharing about our lives, our interests and our eternal values.
One of the unique elements in this program is having the opportunity to link people in something more than a financial sponsorship. This program allows them to interact with students over a five year period where they write four letters a year and also receive back four letters from their students. They exchange photos and stories. Deep bonds of connection are formed.
We say first-hand that love and hope are contagious. One of our team broke out with these words when she finally met her sponsored student, “This is so incredible. I am overwhelmed with crazy, amazing love!
About the author: Ron is the IDEAS Community Life Director for Asia. Ron travels throughout China and other parts of Asia providing support and encouragement to IDEAS Associates.