Timeline of cross-cultural milestones

Remember reading the Bible along the Sea of Galilee, or finding a new “brother” or “sister” when you stayed in a mud-brick dwelling, or doing research at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.?

Those and many more like them are the experiences at the heart of Eastern Mennonite University’s cross-cultural program, which has been part of the core required curriculum for more than 30 years and has taken students all over the world, often led by faculty who lived and served in those locations and return with students time and time again. (For more about faculty repeat and multiple trips, look below to the final section of this post.)

The Summer 2012 Crossroads magazine highlights cross-cultural memories, and more photos and reflections from recent and current cross-cultural participants are at the program blog.


Al Keim in 1997, three years before his retirement from EMU.

1955At age 20, to-be cross-cultural visionary Al Keim is drafted. A conscientious objector, Keim is able to satisfy the draft board by doing two years of service as a volunteer with Mennonite Central Committee, helping refugees in war-devastated Europe. This period overseas, which included a month on a kibbutz in Israel, changed his life path.

1972Al and Leanna Keim lead EMU’s first overseas trip, to the regions in Switzerland and Germany that were the headwaters of the Mennonite stream of Christianity.

1972From 1972 until 1982, cross-cultural program visionary, history professor, and former dean Al Keim and other faculty members lead 10 optional trips to Europe and the Middle East, laying the groundwork for the cross-cultural program.

1976Washington Community Scholars’ Center, then called Washington Study Service Year or WSSY, begins

1981First cross-cultural to New York City

Spain, 1978

1982Faculty-guided study in a culture different from one’s own becomes mandatory for undergraduate students

1982A semester-long trip led by Sharon Hostetler of nine students to Costa Rica and Mexico marks the first study-tour that is part of the general education program.

1982First cross-cultural to Costa Rica/Mexico

1984First cross-cultural to Mississippi

1984First cross-cultural to Mennonite World Conference in Strasbourg, France.

1984First cross-cultural to Middle East

1984First cross-cultural to Mexico

1985First cross-cultural to Arizona/Navajo Nation

1985First cross-cultural to Germany

1985First cross-cultural to London

1986First cross-cultural to China

1986First cross-cultural to Alaska

1986First cross-cultural to England

1987First cross-cultural to New Zealand

1987First cross-cultural to Kentucky/Appalachia

1987First cross-cultural to Quebec

1987First cross-cultural to Northern Ireland and/or Rep. of Ireland

1987First cross-cultural to Central/Latin America

1988First cross-cultural to Los Angeles

1988First cross-cultural to Southern Africa

Latin America, 1989

1989First cross-cultural to Oklahoma/Native American peoples

1989First cross-cultural to France

1989First cross-cultural to Bolivia

1989First cross-cultural to Jamaica

1990First cross-cultural to Japan

1990First cross-cultural to Navajo/Pueblo Peoples

1990First cross-cultural to Soviet Union

1990First cross-cultural to Chile

1992First cross-cultural to Navajo/Hopi Nations

Washington, DC, 1989

1992First cross-cultural to New Orleans

1992First cross-cultural to the British Isles

1992First cross-cultural to France/Ivory Coast

1992First cross-cultural to Russia

1992First cross-cultural to Ivory Coast/France

1992First cross-cultural to Kenya

1993First cross-cultural to the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula

1993First cross-cultural to Washington, DC

1994First cross-cultural to Spain

1995First cross-cultural to Montana

1996 – First seminary cross-cultural to Croatia and Bosnia

1996First cross-cultural to Netherlands

Chile, 1990

1997First cross-cultural to Ghana

1998First cross-cultural to Hawaii

1998 – First seminary cross-cultural to Israel/Palestine

1998First cross-cultural to Navajo Nation

1999First cross-cultural to Albania

1999First cross-cultural to Germany/Austria/Switzerland

1999First cross-cultural to Tanzania

2000First cross-cultural to Lesotho

2001First cross-cultural to Civil Rights Trail

2001First cross-cultural to Ojibwe/Cree Nations

2001First cross-cultural to regional transcultural contexts

2001First cross-cultural to Austria/Germany

Middle East, 2002

2002First cross-cultural to Austria

2002First cross-cultural to Lithuania

2002Washington Study Service Year (WSSY) becomes the Washington Community Scholars’ Center (WCSC).

2003First cross-cultural to South Africa/Lesotho

2003 – First cross-cultural to Zimbabwe

2003 – Eastern Mennonite Seminary hosts the first Learning, Exploring, and Participating (LEAP) summer program, funded by a Lilly Grant. The program, for high-school-aged youth from diverse settings, continued through 2009. It included an orientation at EMS, followed by a cross-cultural experience and then ending with a debriefing time back at the seminary. Locations were Zimbabwe (Mennonite World Conference), 2003; Jamaica, 2004; Ghana, India and the Middle East, 2005; Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, 2006; Guatemala, Mexico, Trinidad, 2007; Colombia, 2008; and New Orleans, 2009.

2004First cross-cultural to Switzerland/Italy

2005First cross-cultural to Fiji/New Zealand

2005First cross-cultural to Harlem

New Zealand, 2005

2005First cross-cultural to France/Benin

2005First cross-cultural to Greece/Turkey

2005First cross-cultural to Guatemala/Bolivia

2005First cross-cultural to Peru

2005The Washington Community Scholars’ Center moves to the Nelson Good House in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington D.C.

2006First cross-cultural to Argentina

2006First cross-cultural to Guatemala/Nicaragua

India, 2007

2007First cross-cultural to India

2007First cross-cultural to Vietnam

2007First cross-cultural to Mediterranean

2007First cross-cultural to Spain/Morocco

2007First cross-cultural to Guatemala/Mexico

2008First cross-cultural to Newfoundland/Labrador

2009First cross-cultural to Nigeria

2009 – First cross-cultural to Paraguay

2010First cross-cultural to Morocco

South Africa, 2011

2011First cross-cultural to Costa Rica/Nicaragua

2011First cross-cultural to Honduras

2012First cross-cultural to US/Mexico border

2012First cross-cultural to Bulgaria

2012First cross-cultural to Zambia

2013 – First cross-cultural to Honduras for the new MA in Biomedicine program

2013 – First cross-cultural to South Korea

2014 – First cross-cultural to Iran

2015 – First Collaborative MBA cross-cultural to Costa Rica.

2016 – First cross-cultural to Myanmar

2017 – This year’s Israel-Palestine trip is EMU’s 25th semester program in the Middle East since 1982.

2019 – The Costa Rican cross-cultural will become a requirement for MBA students, and continue as an elective option for MAOL students.


Faculty repeat and multiple trips

Many faculty have led repeat and multiple cross-cultural trips. Some of the most-traveled include (details as of 2017):

  • Spring 2017 was the 14th semester cross-cultural program led by Linford Stutzman since 2001, most of them with Janet Stutzman as assistant leader. He has also led numerous short-term summer programs for undergrads, alumni and others in Albania, Lithuania, Turkey/Greece and the Mediterranean since 1999.
  • Ann and Jim Hershberger led their seventh semester program in  2017. Ann has also led two local summer programs.
  • Byron Peachey has led three Local Context programs, and his fifth semester in Guatemala is scheduled for spring semester 2018.
  • Deanna Durham has led two semesters in Guatemala with Byron Peachey and served two terms at WCSC, and in 2015 she led her fifth Local Context program.
  • Ervie Glick led five summer programs and a one-semester trip to various European locations between 1992 and 2004​.
  • Gloria Rhodes led her fifth cross-cultural trip to South Korea in the summer of 2013. She has also led or assisted with programs in Russia, Ireland, and Navajo Nation.
  • Harlan deBrun led five summer program trips as well as four semester cross-culturals to South Africa/Lesotho.
  • Jerry Holsopple has led six summer trips to Lithuania.
  • Jim Leaman has led three summer graduate cross-culturals to Costa Rica, and co-led an undergrad summer trip to Kenya.
  • Moira Rogers led her fifth summer cross-cultural to Peru in 2011. She also led programs to Navajo Nation, Argentina and Germany, as well as two semesters in Spain and Morocco.
  • Myrrl Byler, co-leader of four summer programs, led his fifth EMU cross-culture in China in the fall semester of 2013.
  • Spencer Cowles led his fifth trip to Jamaica. He also traveled with students to Navajo Nation and Japan.
Posted on August 2, 2017