Calvin Students and Professors Receive GIFT from China

Basic information

  • Sent: September 28, 2018
  • Expires: September 30, 2020

In August 2018, Calvin students and professors traveled to China to work with the GIFT organization. The Calvin team learned how to embrace cultural differences and love people wholeheartedly, acting as Christ's agents of renewal.

Partnering with GIFT

In August 2018, Professor Judy VanderWoude, Professor Jill Bates, and Professor Peggy Goetz, traveled with 5 Calvin students to China to work with the GIFT organization. They were joined by Calvin’s occupational therapy partner, Tracy Young, from Western Michigan University. GIFT’s mission is to provide care and hope to families who have children with disabilities.  GIFT accomplishes this mission by providing resources for families, creating learning communities with parent-peer support groups, and hosting summer camps, which the team from Calvin participated in this summer.   

While working at the summer camp, Calvin students and professors worked with children and their families, mainly working with parents to show them that they are making an impact.  Abigail Miedema, a student who attended the trip said in a testimonial that she loved watching the parents desire to learn more about how to help their children. Brittany Zuidema, another student who traveled to China, became emotional, telling of how her heart broke for the parents that gave up their time for a week to learn how to better help their children. 


 From "cultural bumps" to new outlooks

While working in another country, cultural barriers or “cultural bumps” as VanderWoude puts them, can be very apparent. Students and professors worked with peer translators throughout the entire week of camp. As trust and respect grew between the translators, the team from Calvin, and the families at the camp, everyone on the trip was impacted through each relationship built.  VanderWoude’s goal is that every student comes back with a new outlook and understanding about how culture affects families, and that students will gain a desire to return. That desire to return is exactly what Alyssa Scholten, a student on the trip, talked about in her testimonial. Though she was hesitant to go, she said that she was led by God to go on the trip and now wants to return. 

The motto of Calvin College is to “Think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal.”  The team of students and professors were able to be Christ’s agents of renewal in China, bringing Christ to families and individuals alike by showing care and hope.  Their travels would not have been possible without the generous donations of The Nagel Foundation, helping to further the name of Christ throughout the world.  Learning to overcome cultural differences, developing lasting relationships, and growing to love the people of China, both students and professors had a life changing trip.

Submitted by: Malinda Lugbill


  • Course code:
  • Credits:
  • Semester:
  • Department: