Middle East University began a U.S. marketing trip with a November 5-7 stop at Walla Walla University to recruit students to study Arabic in Lebanon through the Adventist Colleges Abroad program.
Founded at La Sierra University 51 years ago, the ACA program started with 22 adventurous La Sierra students and three Pacific Union College students. They traveled across the ocean by boat to study French at Collonges-sous-Salève, a mountainside village overlooking Geneva, Switzerland.
Today, ACA is comprised of nine yearlong programs and eight summer programs. The consortium offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study in foreign countries while meeting language requirements at their home Adventist schools. Through classes, field trips, and new friendships, students have the unique chance to expand their worldviews while living and learning in cultures different from those to which they are accustomed.
There are currently 198 ACA students studying abroad for the 2014-2015 academic school year.
This past summer, 95 students studied abroad with ACA.
According to ACA director Odette Ferreira, more than twice as many students enroll in ACA as those who actually attend because many encounter complications with visas before their departure dates.
Schools like Middle East University and Hong Kong Adventist College are newer to the program and are not as well known to American students as some of their more established ACA predecessors.
Middle East University joined the ACA program three years ago, but its Adventist roots are much deeper than that. Founded in 1939, MEU is one the of the oldest institutes of higher learning in Lebanon. MEU shares its campus, located on a mountain overlooking Beirut, with the Middle East and North Africa Union of Seventh-day Adventists. MEU holds the distinction of being the only Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education in the Middle East.
In an effort to increase awareness and enrollment, MEU has sent their writing and communication coordinator, Chandler Jordana, on a tour of the Adventist campuses in North America. Jordana, is a Walla Walla University graduate, hopes a personal visit to each campus will help dispel some of the negative stereotypes associated with Lebanon and the Middle East as a whole.
“In my opinion, Lebanon is a safe country,” said Jordana. “A lot of exaggerations and media hypersensitivity have oversimplified topics, and therefore give a gross misrepresentation of reality.”
After living, working, and studying Arabic at Middle East University last school year, Jordana believes that MEU is a great choice for students considering the ACA program. “I think Middle East University offers a unique opportunity, not just for Adventist young people studying Arabic, but for any person who is attempting to know an often misunderstood region of the world better.”
After his trip to his alma mater, Jordana travels to Pacific Union College on Monday the 10th. Afterward, he will make his way to La Sierra University and then head east to meet with students on other Adventist campuses.
Those interested in learning more about Middle East University and other Adventist Colleges Abroad participating institutions can visit http://www.aca-noborders.com.
Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum.