by Valorie Towne, Director of International Students
Because I have so thoroughly enjoyed teaching English at HCA, I am excited to take on the responsibility of working with international students, host families and teaching staff. One of the dearest interactions I’ve had with an international student occurred in early May three years ago. She quietly approached my desk and simply said, “Mrs. Towne, what is Easter?” What a privilege to get to share the answer with her and to hear her thoughts as well. On the day that I verbally accepted this new position, a dear, young, mission-minded friend of mine who was teaching English in an Asian country was put on house arrest and had her passport confiscated. A week later, she was placed in a van, driven to the airport and sent back to the United States. While she saw the sovereignty of God in the situation, she was also scared and heartbroken for the students she left behind in Asia, who were hungry to know more about Jesus and English. The staff and I understand the part we are being allowed to play in not only the academic lives, but also the spiritual lives of our international students. And just as the Lord deeply loves and provides for our native students, He is doing the same for these students who come many miles, spending months away from families to learn about Jesus, the Christian faith, English and much more.
I am excitedly preparing orientation, lesson supports, assessments, directories, and learning materials: the list goes on. Research has proven that what is best for ESL (English as a second language) students is also best for native students, and so I am eager to use what I have learned with all students. But I am most excited to prayerfully complete my Capstone Action Research Project, which will help build on the positive relationships and friendships between our native students and international students. In academics, spiritual scenarios and fun activities, the staff and I plan to see our school culture strengthened and empowered. My husband has traveled to Asia nearly 30 times for business. We are a part of a global, growing economy that involves business, churches, academia, humanitarian efforts, families and friendships. However, we see in our nation, a deep divide between races. I believe that God’s love is best sown in the hearts of all individuals in our homes and at our school. Heritage has the most amazing chance to show the Lord’s great love by loving every student the Lord brings us. What a gift!
I would like to invite every family, every student, every volunteer that would like to see all students at HCA draw closer to one another, including our international students, to contact me to see how you can be a part of our mission. A prayer warrior, a conversationalist, a tutor, a coach, a driver, a ____________, you fill in the blank with your talent or interest; these are the people that will bring about the kingdom of God for our students. I would love to talk with your or your child if you have questions or are ready to help. Lastly, many thanks to Mr. Cuckler and Dr. Loyd who have supported me in this journey, and who have served HCA so faithfully.