Olivet Around the World

Summer 2019 spent abroad for many students and faculty.

Lauren Beatty

September 26, 2019 Academics

Every summer, students, faculty and staff at Olivet Nazarene University have opportunities to travel around the world through more than 20 academic and volunteer programs. Exploring new cultures, tasting new foods and connecting with new people brings enrichment to traveler’s lives as the experiences expand and enhance their perspectives of the Kingdom. Here are a few highlights from summer 2019.

Abrial Harkins and Ike Acha | Ecuador


From standing in the middle of the world to swinging over the side of a cliff in the middle of the jungle and from eating lemon ants (which were delicious) to shooting a dart from a wooden blow gun, summer 2019 was full of adventures for seniors Abrial Harkins and Ike Acha.

As part of the Nazarene International Language Institute Summer Study Abroad Program, they spent eight weeks in Quito, Ecuador, and the surrounding communities. They devoted mornings to Spanish classes and afternoons to serving the local church through a partnership with Nazarene Theological Seminary. 


Abrial says the most beautiful part of the trip was allowing the Lord to show what it means to love His people. “Each day, I was surrounded by a vibrant culture and beautiful people — people made in His image,” he says. “Whether I was walking the streets of my home community in Carcelen, the countryside of Riobamba or the jungle of Shell, I was able to engage with and be in community in meaningful ways.”

Ben Fields, Lucas Finley, Ryan Frank, Breanna Gifford, Matthew Ingison, Tess Kopp, Colin Nelson, Kelly Sylvester and Dr. Charles Carrigan |12 National Parks of the American West


After a 10-year hiatus, Dr. Charles Carrigan ’96 and Olivet’s Department of Chemistry and Geosciences reinstated a summer study trip aimed at giving students opportunities to explore some of the natural wonders of the American West.


While hiking through 12 national parks, the eight students on the trip enjoyed landscapes featuring volcanoes, meteorite impacts, glaciers, sand dunes, canyons, fossils and river systems. They also panned for gold and toured the Red Rocks amphitheater. Alumni who work in geological fields, Steve Smith ’81, Dr. Leslie Mikesell ‘91, Stephen Barrick ‘00 and Wayne Patterson ‘00, also joined the trip to add their expertise. 


Sophomore Ryan Frank says of the experience, “I felt God and experienced a visual representation of His love for us with every hand-sculpted view and painted scene that we came across. The intentionally crafted landscape really revealed to me the majestic nature of God and drew me into Him.”

Andrew Perabeau | England


Over his four weeks at the University of Oxford, senior Andrew Perabeau earned six elective credits along with 35 students from other Christian colleges through Olivet’s partnership with the BestSemester program. Wanting to step out of his comfort zone, he took courses in creative writing as well as science and faith.


As part of his studies, he used the extensive Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Taking full advantage of his time abroad, Andrew also attended an Anglican Church for the duration of his stay in Oxford; played a game of cricket with locals; and extended his trip to explore in Brussels and Bruges, Belgium, and Dunkerque and Paris, France.

While the unique experience did stretch him academically, Andrew says the greater impact was “ … getting to experience life and Christianity in completely new contexts.”

Amy Smith and members of women’s soccer team | Costa Rica


Traveling to Costa Rica this summer with the Olivet women’s soccer team was an eye-opening experience for sophomore biology major Amy Smith. The team was busy during the 12-day missions trip, sharing the gospel at five Nazarene churches around San Jose and playing soccer against local teams.

The students also explored their surroundings. They saw volcanoes, an animal sanctuary, coffee plantations and a waterfall under which two teammates were baptized. A typical day included a service project or a visit to a school in the morning; a soccer game in the evening; and a debrief session with worship and a devotional to conclude each night.


“As a team, we got to experience a new culture together,” Amy says. “Going on this trip definitely built unity in our team that I’m confident we will carry over into our season.”

Dakotah Henn and Dr. Derek Rosenberger | Costa Rica, Alaska, Ecuador


Summer 2019 was extraordinary for junior zoology major Dakotah Henn. On three separate excursions, he traveled to Costa Rica, Alaska and Ecuador. In the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica, he performed field research on a near-threatened frog species and assisted Dr. Derek Rosenberger with research on the montane bark beetle. Through Olivet’s Arctic Field Studies course in Alaska, Dakotah learned about the arctic and tundra ecosystems. During his trip to Ecuador with the National Eagle Scout Association, he conducted research at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station. One the thrilling experiences in South America was floating in the Amazon with piranha, giant catfish, caiman and giant anacondas swimming beneath his feet. 


Each unique experience inspired Dakotah to continue pursuing a career in herpetological research and education. “I enjoy learning as much as I can about the most misunderstood creatures on earth,” he says. “I feel compelled to share my experiences in these fragile ecosystems with others to engage and inspire people to save and preserve these natural resources for generations to come.”

Dr. Paul Koch | Europe, Middle East, Asia


For the past 17 years, Dr. Paul Koch has taught courses in comparative economic systems and international trade and finance as part of Messiah College’s International Business Institute (IBI). Over nearly two decades of the partnership, 56 Olivet students have taken advantage of the IBI experience.

For ten weeks every summer, approximately 40 students from universities around the United States travel abroad together to take four upper-division business courses while exploring countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. This year’s group arrived in Germany on the first day of the elections for the European Parliament, providing them with front-row seat to the debate over the future of the European Union and its member countries. 

Dr. Koch strongly encourages students to take advantage of opportunities to travel. 

“Study-abroad programs are not only a tremendous asset in helping students to learn about the world,” he says, “but also in helping to expand their vision with respect to how their interests and talents might be employed in service to the Kingdom and for the benefit of others.”

Photos submitted and used with permission.
Published 9/26/2019

Lauren Beatty

Lauren Beatty ’13 is a freelance writer, author, editor, artist and an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication at Olivet. She earned a Master of Arts degree in cross-cultural and sustainable business management from the American University of Paris in 2014. Her thesis explored the evolution of socially responsible business practices in America.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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