There are currently over 15,000 international students studying within the state of Minnesota; I’m proud that 21 of them call Concordia Academy home. Our international students have come from over a dozen different countries, including Liberia, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and, of course, China. Increasing interest over the last five years has prompted us to be proactive in building relationships with partners abroad to ensure that Concordia Academy has the best possible international students. So, this fall, I took my fourth trip to China in three years, while Sarah Adams, our other admissions director, headed to Vietnam.
In late October, I landed in China for what would be my most interesting trip yet. This time was a little different from past recruitment trips; instead of participating in structured educational fairs with other American schools, I was simply meeting with our Chinese partners, on their turf. I visited five cities (Shanghai, Xiamen, Jinjiang, Chengdu and Beijing) in 12 days. I have never felt more welcomed, and I think it’s safe to stay I actually visited the “real” China this time!
The Chinese way of doing business is different then the American way. It is almost entirely based on relationships and is truly all about who you know. My meetings were about getting to know each other and typically included a meal or two, followed by karaoke (a LOT of karaoke!). Thanks to karaoke, I found myself visiting the “real” China by eating local delicacies (including, but not limited to, fish skin, chicken feet, and cow stomach) and singing Christmas songs in October. It was so fun to actually experience this part of the Chinese culture, and I was amazed at how welcoming everyone I encountered was.
Through these travel experiences, it also showed me how different our two cultures are and how brave these students are for coming to study in a foreign country so different from their own. Our international students bring unique perspectives and consistently contribute to the CA community. We have seen them win at the state robotics competition, play worship music on the guzheng in chapel, become baptized, make best friends, and so much more. At CA, these students are seeing Jesus’s love, and for many it’s a new love never felt before—How powerful is that!?
As we see our international program grow, establish partnerships with Chinese schools, and continue to welcome more international students, I look forward to seeing what is in store for them…and for Concordia Academy.
I like to plan ahead.
I like to be organized.
At times, I even like to think I’m in control.
This illusion of being in control is a part of many areas of my life…but really, it rears its head most often with my girls. I have two little ladies, one in Grade 3 and one in Grade 5. Many things about being their mom have taught me that I am not as in control as I’d like to be.
I like to best invest my energy as a mom in relationships, opportunities, and experiences that help the girls grow in their faith. I want to offer them people and places that cultivate their faith and support their own personal walk with Jesus. I believe relationships, role models, and experiences will help them see Jesus as real and alive.
I believe my girls are on loan to me from God. They are gifts that I am entrusted with on this side of heaven, and I am blessed to parent them with my very best friend, my husband. Together, we decided long ago that Concordia Academy would eventually be our children’s high school of choice. Remember, I’m the one with the plan.
A top reason we support and choose CA is that we see first-hand that Jesus is living and breathing at Concordia Academy. The Word of God is brought to life in so many ways: in staff interactions with students; as teachers share their love of learning; in the numerous specialized academic programs that are offered; through extracurricular activities, including athletic teams, theatre, and the chapel band, just to name a few. The whole school is thick with living out the Word of God. Jesus is present and I feel it and hear it and see it every time I am there.
And I’m there a lot. Although currently too young to formally attend, our girls have many opportunities to experience Concordia Academy. We often take our girls to sporting events. They attend plays with their classmates. We’ve listened to His People and gone to concerts. Over President’s Day weekend, our oldest took a friend to the “Beacon Blast,” just one of the many official events Concordia Academy sponsors for middle school youth.
Our girls also enjoy the summer camps offered at Concordia Academy. Last year, one of our girls tried worship camp and dance camp. This summer we have a repeat for worship camp, as well as volleyball and basketball camp already on the calendar. New camps like photography, CSI, and auto shop are tempting, too.
My girls know Concordia Academy will be their high school. They, too, like knowing what is coming next. They feel safe and confident and excited about whatever they are involved in and enjoying at CA. We feel God will guide them through these next years as their own relationship with Jesus evolves through their opportunities as students. We are grateful that God has connected us to Concordia Academy long before we officially enroll our girls as students.
I think a bit more prayer, less controlling, and more trusting in God’s provision are in order with my parenting. I’m grateful for God’s provision and promises as well as partnering with Concordia Academy to share Jesus’s love and teachings with our girls.
Entering into a new season of life is always something that brings emotions out. A “new season” may be a new friend group, new spouse, new house, new school, or even a new family member. All of these life changes can make you feel scared, confused, joyful, or maybe even relieved.
Recently, I have experienced some major life changes. Earlier this year, I spent four months in Africa—completing the adoption of my son! Throughout my time in Africa, my emotions varied. Sometimes I felt happy. Other times, it was a feeling of exhaustion. And now, I feel relieved to have this adoption process complete and to have brought my little boy home!
Before I left for Africa, and also while I was there, I was in conversations with Pastor Berner, CA’s principal. He informed me that there was an opening for an Admissions Director at CA. I had heard such wonderful things about Concordia, so of course my emotions started to go a little crazy. The possibility intrigued me, but also worried me at the same time. My brain was telling me, “Absolutely don’t take this job! You are about to have two toddlers in your home (one who doesn’t speak English!). You have a career at another school. You also own a business on the side. How would you ever even handle all of this?”
I’m normally a fairly level-headed person and can make decisions quickly. But in this particular event, my brain and my heart were telling me two different things. I let my emotions take over and found myself mentally exhausted from trying to make the decision to come to CA. Finally, after a week or so of battling this in my head, I realized I needed to surrender my emotions to the Lord. If CA was the right place for me, I knew that God would help me get through this transition period and would keep not only my emotions stable, but also my family’s emotions.
I’m happy to say that ever since I let God take control of this area of my life, I have had a complete peace. The moment I walked into the doors of CA, I was greeted with a friendly smile by Lisa Sell. Her smile made me feel at ease, and I felt like I was walking into a place with people that I had known forever. I knew that this was the place for me. I finally felt that emotional peace that I was looking for.
My first few weeks at CA were filled with excitement, some exhaustion, and a little bit of anxiety. But as the days went by, I continually felt that overwhelming sense of calmness. CA is not only a place that strives to have academic and athletic excellence for its students, but I have quickly found that this place is full of people who truly care. They care about the legacy that CA is leaving. They care about the imprint they are making on your students. And they authentically care about sharing of love of Jesus and having compassion on others.
I feel so blessed to be able to step into this amazing environment, and I am excited to be a part of this wonderful team!