Networking at professional conferences, using classroom-inspired practices in real world situations, and interacting with professors, suggest reasons why one international student is fully prepared for an exciting future in human rights and global community development.
“Messiah professors get us out of the classroom and into practical situations,” says Jessica Debrah ′08. “I had the blessed opportunity to attend a National Council on Family Relations (http://www.ncfr.org/) conference. My professors helped me form a network of people who share my vision.”
The soon-to-graduate human development and family science major is now in conversation with many of those conference contacts to secure a position helping refugees. “In many ways, I know what it’s like to be a refugee,” said Jessica. “I’ve lived in five countries, and even survived an attempted military coup.”
By American standards, Jessica’s background is far from average. Early in her junior year at the International Christian Academy in Bouaké, Côte d’lvoire, Ivory Coast—thousands of miles away from family—Jessica and 150 fellow students huddled under dorm room beds, dining tables, and whatever else could provide shelter, as rebel forces and government troops exchanged bullets and bombs right outside the school’s gates. “We held one another and prayed, wondering if they [the rebels] would kill us one by one,” she recalled. At one point, school administrators met rebel soldiers to negotiate terms of safety for the students. The weeklong siege ended when French troops liberated the school and led a convoy of vehicles surrounded by army tanks to safety.
Eventually Jessica enrolled at a boarding school in Senegal, a “safe and happy environment,” yet in an area besieged by poverty. “We regularly saw homeless children begging for food and money,” she recalls. “What I saw softened my heart. Despite the striking differences in our lives, I understood God’s calling on my life to reach out to the least of these and do what I can to bring hope into their lives.”
Posted on April 20th, 2008