Cover time, place and culture in the classroom

Now, it’s one thing to share information about the only class of its kind, and it’s another to hear from students within the community itself. These brief Q&As illustrate how rewarding the experience was for everyone involved:

Anika Oss ’23, Biokinetics major, Biology and Business minors

What was it like connecting with people of different cultures and ages in this class?

I was able to connect easily with other people in the class because my family is originally from Mexico and I am fluent in Spanish. There were people of all ages in the class, and I loved how it brought in a range of perspectives. There was never a moment when I didn’t feel comfortable.

How does this course complement your overall Bethel experience?

The Bethel experience values ​​faith, and Dr. Hernández shared many fascinating Bible materials that challenged me and allowed me to grow in my faith.

Can you describe a moment or a memory of the course that marked you?

The class really felt like a family and it always seemed like we were celebrating something together. My favorite memory has to be when we celebrated the last day of class and ate “tostadas de pollo” together.

Felix Juárez, a 70-year-old retiree who audited the course. He is married to assistant professor of nursing emeritus Maureen Juárez.

What was it like connecting with people of different cultures and ages in this class?

Being Latino, the cultural aspects are not that different as the course reminds me of my experiences in Latino churches in Minnesota. Latin American churches in Minnesota are generally made up of people from various Latin American countries. Also, as a Latino, I feel like I’m used to interacting with people from different generations. I loved getting to know all of my classmates during breaks or even our out-of-class meetings. Our group consisted of students aged between 17 and 80. It was wonderful to see that our common language, Spanish, connected us beyond age.

Can you describe a moment or a memory of the course that marked you?

A fond memory I had from the class was learning from Dr. Hernández as he connected the Hebrew language to what we were learning. He wrote it on the board and explained the meaning of the words. This focus on language was particularly significant as we are bilingual and naturally interested in how language works.

Another memory I have is a reflection made by a classmate. She expressed that as she learned through this course, she realized how important it was because God wanted her to be ready to share the gospel with others. She needed to know more because there was still work to be done.

How has your faith grown throughout this course? Or what did you learn about the Bible that sticks in your memory?

One thing I learned is still close to my heart: that all people of all generations sin and ask for forgiveness. It is something that is repeated in every generation. And even though sometimes our sin can irritate God, he still loves us.

Moisés Gómez, an undergraduate student who also took Hernández’s Introduction to Biblical Greek in Spanish.

What was it like connecting with people of different cultures and ages in this class?

I was able to verify that — for knowledge — there is no age. Also, it was very enriching to learn how each of them, in their time and from their own liturgical customs, aspired to know more about God.

What impact has this course had on your life beyond Bethel?

I learned to value the Bible more and to appreciate its richness from another angle. Also, my desire to know God in a deeper way intensified. Now, every time I read a passage, I try to supplement the meditation with a study book that allows me to peer into what I cannot do with the naked eye.

Can you describe a moment or a memory of the course that marked you?

The koinonia between my classmates. At each class, we took a 10-15 minute break, and during that time we shared a snack while we talked a bit about everything. Personally, it allowed me to get to know my colleagues a little better and to esteem and value them more.

Erik Bekers ’22, Teaching K-12 Spanish and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) K-12 Double Major

What was it like connecting with people of different cultures and ages in this class?

It was an incredibly rewarding experience. Although we only meet once a week, being able to be immersed in Hispanic culture has helped me better communicate the culture to my future students in my Spanish class (while I still recognize my limitations in doing so as a white individual). The wisdom and stories of experiences from many seniors in my class have helped me gain perspective on some of the situations in my life. Their perseverance and courage through all circumstances served as a testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness, helping me to stay in faith that God will do the same in all my circumstances.

How does this course complement your experience in the modern world languages ​​department?

With the addition of this course, I am now able to communicate more easily about the most important thing to me: my faith. The curiosity Dr. Hernández sparked in all of us as we studied the Old and New Testaments helped me feel personally motivated to learn more about his word, even though it was a challenge for me.

Also, as a future language educator, I know that being able to speak someone’s native language is a real way to connect to their heart. As such, being able to learn about the goodness, faithfulness, and providence of the Lord throughout the biblical account from creation to the cross and beyond in one’s native language greatly expands the meaning of this delicate content.

How has your faith grown throughout this course? What did you learn about the Bible that sticks in your memory?

My faith grew enormously during this course. Dr. Hernández has done a marvelous job of illuminating the ways the Old Testament points to the arrival of Jesus. Additionally, this course has helped me recognize the Lord’s faithfulness through turbulent Old Testament times, even when God seems angry or distant from His people. However, I realized that it never really was, never is, and never will be very far from its creation.

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