This year, two CMU students are expanding their horizons through MCC’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program – and they’re getting school credit for it.
Natasha Neustaedter Barg, 20, and Rebecca Janzen, 22, are taking part in the SALT program in partial fulfillment of their bachelor’s degrees.
SALT is a year-long cross-cultural service experience. Through SALT, Christian young adults from Canada and the U.S. serve internationally in a wide variety of positions in fields like education, agriculture, health care and peace.
CMU students are required to complete a practicum to graduate with an undergraduate degree. According to Peter Epp, the practicum coordinator for the university, it’s an opportunity to put into practice the lessons they’re learning.
“Practica provide CMU students with dynamic opportunities to discern their vocational futures and apply and grow what they’re learning in the classroom. For some, CMU’s practica can be the bridge between their education at CMU and how they apply that education to the rest of their lives,” he says.
Photo submitted by Rebecca Janzen
That’s true for Janzen.
She hails from Edmonton and attends First Mennonite Church is serving as an activities coordinator at Jesuit Refugee Services in Amman, Jordan. She’s in her fourth year of a Biblical and Theological Studies degree at CMU and began her service term in August.
“I knew SALT would be a place for me to learn things that I would otherwise not learn in Canada. I don’t yet know what those lessons are, but I know my experience on SALT will not only be a way for me to learn, but also a way for my community at home to learn and expand their understanding of the world and those who live in it,” she explains.
Photo submitted by Natasha Neustaedter Barg
Winnipegger Neustaedter Barg attends Douglas Mennonite Church and is entering her third year of a social sciences degree. She’s serving as an assistant English teacher at Van Lang Secondary School in Viet Tri, Vietnam.
Her reasons for participating in SALT are numerous.
MCC photo/Natasha Neustaedter Barg
“SALT offers me the chance to not only really get to know the culture, but also to serve the global church, get to know other young adults from North America and to serve as a teacher,” she explains.
Even though she’s just a few weeks into her one-year term, Neustaedter Barg says she’s already learned a lot.
“SALT has shown me the importance of being patient and also the importance of putting yourself out there,” she says.
Janzen anticipates gaining a lot from the experience.
“I think my passion for the region, religions, and people will continue to grow and I will find ways to learn more and take the opportunity school gives me to continue to study the area. I think returning to school following this year will also help me unpack what I am learning here,” Janzen says.
“SALT embodies so much of what’s at CMU’s core: an Anabaptist worldview, a living commitment to social justice, every Christian’s call to minister and openness to being served and taught by people who are different that one’s self." - Peter Epp
Epp says the SALT program fits well with CMU’s values.
“SALT embodies so much of what’s at CMU’s core: an Anabaptist worldview, a living commitment to social justice, every Christian’s call to minister and openness to being served and taught by people who are different that one’s self,” Epp says.
He adds: “For students who have drunk deeply from the foundations of CMU’s approach to education, SALT can allow them to live and apply those convictions in deeply tangible ways.”